Thursday, August 18, 2011

I love assembling Ikea furniture!

For me, Ikea furniture is like an Erector Set for adults. I really enjoy putting things together and Ikea furniture gives me the feeling of accomplishment I need.

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Since there is an Ikea in Yokohama, we had already planned to stop there on the way back home from Kamakura. We picked up a large Malm chest, Poeng arm chair, and an Expedit shelving unit. The nice thing about the chest was that Yuko’s parents gave us money to buy it along with a baby crib that is not pictured here yet.

After spending about an hour at Ikea we took a quick 4 minute drive down the road to a giant mall in Yokohama called Lala-Port. If we weren’t so tired we would have spent more than a few hours there. I think we ended up spending two anyhow. We bought some clothes for the baby at Baby Gap, a black free fit flex cap for me, and some accessories for Yuko there.

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When we got home after a very long 3 hour drive including rest stops and city traffic I decided to assemble all of the furniture. It took me a few hours but in the end I got a chair, chest of drawers, and a shelving unit put together in record time.

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The fish tank now has a new home. The potted palm tree has been displaced by the chair and the chest of drawers has squeezed its self into the kitchen. Our house is really cozy now. I think the chair will get a lot of good use out of Yuko once our baby boy is born. For now, I plan to use it for playing games. It’s really comfy!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yearly summer road trip

DSCF0021This year my wife and I drove to Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture near Yokohama. Like every year, I do all the driving but this time I wasn’t severely fatigued this time. This time, I came prepared and hopped myself up on energy drinks.

The first place we stopped at was, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Temple. It was pretty nice but we only spent maybe 10 minutes as it was incredibly hot and humid outside. I had a nice dark wet spot of sweat in the center of my polo shirt by the time we made it back to our car.

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DSCF0068The second stop on our drive was Hasedera Temple which is near the giant Buddha statue at Koutokuji Temple. Hasedera was very nice and had a large garden with a very cool natural cave next to it. The cave was very narrow with a low ceiling. I spent most of my time crouched in it while Yuko walked upright in it. The cave at Hasedera was a very refreshing break from the humidity outside.

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DSCF0070After we were done looking around Hasedera we walked about 5 minutes up the hill to the giant Buddha statue at Koutokuji Temple. What’s neat about the Buddha statue there is that you can stand inside it. The statue was made hundred of years ago and was originally enclosed within a temple but the original temple was destroyed and only the Buddha stands.

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DSCF0094Our final stop of our long drive day was at Enoshima. Enoshima is a small island just off the shoreline. There are many small restaurants and souvenir shops scattered throughout the island. By this point of the day we had been sweating like crazy but our sweating had only begun as we spent 2 hours wandering about the tall hill that sits in the center of the island.

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There were cats everywhere on this island. The poor things were abandoned here by their owners. There is a fund to neuter and spay the cats that reside on the island. I donated to it. The cats are generally cool with the tourists walking by them that they don’t even move out of the way like the cat pictured above.

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There’s an observation in the middle of the island but we were too tired to bother with it. We saw enough of the island on foot as it were.

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Half way through our walk on Enoshima we found another large series of caves to explore. These caves were much larger than the one at Hasedera. I could stand upright most of the time.

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There were some nasty bugs called Funamushi that live all over the caves. We didn’t notice them till we were leaving the caves. If we had known, we probably would have been less willing to walk through the caves. :0

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After a long 2 hour walk through Enoshima we were drenched in sweat and very tired but our day wasn’t quite over just yet. After refreshing ourselves at our hotel we took a train to Yokohama China Town for dinner.

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It was a very long day of walking and viewing tons of neat landmarks. I am surprised my wife was ok with walking so much as she is pregnant at the moment. I think she was able to do it because we took many breaks and brought plenty of water. What a trooper.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thunderstorms bring summer relief.

It’s been a crazy summer and I’m only about halfway through. Japan has been hit by multiple flash floods across the country that have caused millions of yen in property damage. Record rain levels have been recorded in just the past few days.

This rain has been a curse for many but a blessing for me. It’s unbearably hot and humid in Japan during the middle of summer and these cold and hot fronts that bring thunderstorms almost daily bring a much needed sudden cool-down. As a matter of fact, as I am typing this entry there is another big thunderstorm outside. Cool!

I decided to hold my camera outside my living room window and film a cool natural daytime light show. It managed to knock out my power momentarily but not long enough to inconvenience me.

Speaking of blackouts, my apartment has blacked out a couple times since these frequent thunderstorms have been hitting. It was so strong a few nights ago that it knocked out the main power switch in my apartment building outdoor lighting/cable/internet box. We probably would have had to wait a day or two for someone to come and check it out just to find out it’s a simple breaker switch that took out the power to our internet/cable TV. I’ll give myself a pat on the back for that one.

Finally onto the the topic of breakers, my safety circuit test breaker is really sensitive and trips often. The breaker shuts off especially when I do something as simple as use more than 2 fans while my dryer is running. Whoever wired my apartment didn’t put each room on a separate circuit like its labeled to be. Somehow my living room/kitchen are one circuit with the heavy power drawing bathroom appliance circuit. Good going electrician.

I might make another video if I have my camera handy again. I wonder if my cell phone camera would be better…