Tuesday, February 24, 2009

photo album on flickr

our photo album is now on flickr!

I can't believe how many pictures there are-- almost 250 in total!
the flickr account maxes out at 200, but they're up for you to check out.
kae sent us a bunch of pictures from her camera too! thanks kae!

I miss Japan already....


Saturday, February 14, 2009

no bun!

Yata! we made it home- we are smiling and warm and full of special pink valentines day cake- oh to be loved to be loved! 

the last few days in Japan were spent at a vineyard in yamanashi (with our new homey Ogihara-san) clearing fields of wormy peach trees and grape stems, painting grape vines, making bonfires, and baking potatoes... it was a very nice way to wind down the trip. We had a chance to catch up with Kae and her family a little bit more and the boys from Uramichi (jeff's most favorite band that he ever set up a tour for)- now we are snuggling between layers of pink fluffy cake and recovering from jet lag.....

Big ups to the Ho familia for there generosity! We would have been on the street or eating dog food or something worse if it weren't for them. And Kako was so nice to let us sleep in his room the entire time! We are hopeful we can return the favor sometime, maybe in NY we can even go to Kmart and watch Nicholas Cage movies---


We showed the trip pictures to my mom and she said there were too many food pictures... but it was such a big part of the experience! we disagree.
I was really sad to leave Japan, not because of all the yummy food and fast trains, but because I will miss my friends and family-- I didn't have a chance to get in touch with everyone-- but hopefully I will be able to go back someday soon! maybe I will be better at going into public baths and ordering things I don't know how to read by then.... and maybe I'll be able to discover even more new ways to create and sustain a good happy sustainable lifestyle :) with or without giant plastic tubs full of pickles!


p.s. we will post a photo album when kae sends us the missing pieces-- link to follow!

p.p.s - the hero of our trip was far and away our Auntie Kae, without her we would not have the big bellies full of shortcake we have now! Second hero was Misa for being adventurous and reading me things and keeping my tummy free from meat! 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

onions and sheep

we just finished a week at the organic farm/workshop called "keiko hyakusho no ie" in imaichi, saitama, a couple hours north of Tokyo. some info:

harvest veggies: spinach, daikon (giant white radish), shungiku (spring chyrsanthemum greens), mizome (mustardy dark greens), cabbage, hakusai (chinese cabbage), carrots, salad greens, gigantic green onions, red onions, satoimo (japanese potatoes), brown potatoes, mizuna (salady greens), bok choy, rhubarb, mikan (satsuma tangerines), lots of other unrecognizable edibles...

other sleeping crops: wheat, barley, rice, strawberries, tomatoes, on and on....

animals: 1 goat, 3 cats, 5 ducks, 6 sheep (4 black, 2 white), 700 chickens

people: 4 staff, 15+ volunteers, 3 WWOOFers (us and one other person)

misa made it through a week of farming! and she smiled almost the entire time! I am so happy- I really learned alot at the farm and had a chance to do some things I have really been wanting to learn more about - like plowing a fieild, making a tunnel to help the seeds germinate, spin wool, and become friends with sheep! (aunt laurie look at my down jacket! it was only 6 dollars at a second hand store in Tokyo!!! aren't you proud of me? I finally have one!)

love and hugs

i was in the giant giant veggie field cutting weeds with a chef's knife- and harvesting spinach with red roots... kilos and kilos of spinach! i know how to make chinese cabbage pickles now too (after dunking my hands in below-freezing pickle juice for hours on end), and how to clean and spin wool, and how to operate a kimono ori (japanese style weaving loom), and how to make yaki udon, and how to make a special fertilizing chicken poop dried leaf lasagna for nourishing the winter veggies.... etc etc. none of this costs much money, just a lot of care and work. it was so fun and all worth it-- even as we sat in bed watching our breath in the air at night..... we made breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the "farm fresh organic veggies" and eggs and rice and wheat from the fields less than 1 km away. the food was so good and the people were so nice to us! they all took a lot of time to show us how to do different things and to explain why they were doing them. (misa) FARM POWER! (jeff)

p.s. my favorite part may have been letting the sheep eat all the weeds so I didn't have to cut them... although they almost ate the spinach in my box too

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ping pong rallies on!

lucky us we found ping pong and a snail in the eki (train station) bento! --love jeff---

today we were in nikko for a bit, walking around muddy ancient pine trees and looking at snowy mountains... it was so empty and run down but had a nice quiet feeling to it.
also kae and paul took us to play takkyuu (table tennis, or ping pong is the chinese name, says wikipedia) in takadanobaba near waseda univ. it was a super authentic sports hall followed by super authentic ramen. kae is obsessed. paul's neighborhood is pretty fun.
kae and paul also recommended climbing mt takao, so we tried. I only lasted about 2 km uphill (steep! so steep!) even though jeff would have gone to the top. oops.
the ekiben is from osaka station... these special bento are so expensive but I feel like I won't ever eat them again! this one was especially good... i even ate the snail... but it just tasted like a snail...

p.s. we just ate fugu nabe (stew style hotpot with blowfish) with kae's parents... yes, the same fish from the simpsons

Sunday, January 25, 2009

trouble in paradise

We are back in Tokyo today.
Last week we were in the Hakata area and the Beppu area visiting my family-- relaxing, walking around, trying to improve my Japanese. We went to the ramen stadium, learned how to cook gobo, walked along the Beppu Bay, got in a boiling hot onsen (hot spring), and sat in on a calligraphy class. Jeff was able to meditate in both temples-- everyone was impressed that he could sit for so long. (I can only last about 5 minutes.) My family has been extremely hospitable and receptive to our last-minute plans. We've experienced many new sights and smells, including new green tatami mats, boiled-egg sulfur baths, and life-changing udon in Osaka's underground city.
We went to see 2 of the Jigoku onsen (the colored boiling hot spring tourist attractions), but ended up going to an old wooden sento-style (neighborhood bathhouse) place patronized by local grandmas and grandpas. I had no idea what to do because I couldn't see anything-- but it was a good experience (and only 100 yen).
But there is trouble in paradise-- on Saturday, upon being picked up at a countryside train station in the Kansai area, we immediately knew that the first farm was not a good place for us to be. It was obvious that what we were looking for (learning, sustainability, cultural exchange) was not present at this place-- actually, it wasn't even a farm, just a country house with chickens, and the hosts were off site most of the time. We decided to leave, and now we're back at Kae's apt in Tokyo trying to regroup and find a plan B. (misa)

(jeff) in other news after meditating in the hakata temple i felt amazing- as i came to realize in my own way the teaching of using no way as way- so i danced around on tatami mats-

here are some pictures to soften the blow-

Friday, January 23, 2009


que so misa is in the bath and i am sipping tea- we made it to our first wwoof destination- misa is nervous... we shall see hopeful it is ok for her!

Monday, January 19, 2009

dango tango

misa and i are so full of food- i have foresaken my girlish figure for the tempting flavors of japanese sweets and other goodies I cant help myself! give me more AN! (jeff)

the last couple days have been action packed-- we walked around ginza and had fancy meals with kae`s family, went to shinkiba pier and saw fake volcanoes, went back to tsukiji market and saw real whale meat, got on the bullet train and traveled 1100plus kilometers to fukuoka, watched more sumo tournaments on TV (go morning blue dragon! haha)....

this morning my cousin shoko drove us and her co worker to a little village called akizuki, which is famous for natural dyes, especially sakura (cherry blossoms). it has been sunny but very cold-- akizuki is in a valley between tall mountains. we had amazing soba and japanese sweets, and were able to visit a textile factory and a dyeing factory. 

jeff climbed into a hollow tree and rejuvenated himself at a shinto shrine... the mountains are so desolate. the cherry tree festival is the town`s major tourist attraction, so there won:t be many people there until march.

also we are paying more attention to the vending machine culture-- you can buy pretty much anything-- cigarettes, beer, tea, stew, sandwiches... but in akizuki they have a `daily egg machine`-- 300 yen for a dozen fresh eggs!

nihon no inaka wa kirei desu ne-