Author Archives: mrsveryvera

About mrsveryvera

I work and pay my taxes.

Kiso Valley: Tsumago & Magome

Hi, I thought I better write more about my trip to Japan before baby arrives! I don’t think I will have time to do it then!

So anyway… After Kyoto, we moved on to Tsumago and Magome in the Kiso Valley. We took a train from Kyoto to Nagiso and took a taxi to Tsumago. Tsumago is really nice. It was a post town on the Nakesendo route during the Edo period. You can read more about it here.

There are many ryokan and minshuku in Tsumago but the one we have booked is in Otsumago which is in between Tsumago and Magome. We spent the day walking in Tsumago. We had a nice soba lunch and had a few snacks at a tea house. It was really nice and peaceful. I also remembered seeing notices about bears being spotted along the hiking trail and we could hire a bell if we want to. The bell is to warn the bears that we are in the area. My husband refused to rent it….. argh. Here are some photos of our day at Tsumago.

Tsumago

Anyway, the walk to our minshuku, Kohshinzuka was quite tiring as we had to go uphill and downhill! We made it and we are so glad to be staying there because the host was really nice, the room was great, the bathroom was clean. It has a hot bath in there which we really enjoyed! Best of all, the food was amazing!!!! I highly recommend this place if you do visit Tsumago and Magome! The host even sang a folk song for us! There was audience participation too! We met a very nice family from the USA too. We all enjoyed ourselves!

Waiting to check in

Snack time

View from our room!

This kept us warm while we had dinner next to it

Starter: Raw horse meat (basashi) and some glutinous rice ball with peanut sauce. The horse meat was delicious!!!

Grilled fish with salt

We also had chawan mushi and some other dishes. I forgot what they were! But they were good!!!

Our host.

Breakfast! The soup was soooo good!!!

After breakfast, we checked out and started our walk to Magome. It was a long hike… mostly UPHILL! We were so tired by the end of it! My husband was so tired.. he got grumpy within 10 minutes of the hike! HAHA! It was so tiring!! See pic below! That’s how high we had to climb!

View from the top.

Beware of bears!!!

There are also big bells along the hiking trail that you can ring to warn the bears. I did ring it because I was so scared! However, I did wonder.. if the bears heard the bell, wouldn’t they think that dinner is here?!!!!

Anyway, we made it to Magome.. and we were so tired by then, we didn’t take many photos. Magome seems a bit more modern than Tsumago to me. From Magome, we took a bus to Nagiso and took a train to Tokyo.

For this trip, the highlight for me is staying at Kohshinzuka. I’ve never stayed at a minshuku before. It is miles better than the ryokan we stayed at Miyajima. The food was so good. I wish we had another day there just to have some nice home cooked food prepared for us! I would go back there again!

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Categories: Culture, Japan, Photography, Travel | Tags: , | 3 Comments

20 weeks and counting!

It has been awhile.

I’ve been so busy…

We’re going to have a new kitchen, a new bathroom, a new toilet downstairs and a porch built. We have decided to can the double storey extension as it is too expensive! It’s ridiculous!

Baby wise,  I have a little bump now and sometimes I can feel the baby kicking! It is a nice feeling. I can’t wait when the kicks are stronger so my husband could feel it too!

We have also bought a travel system (pram/pushchair) and a cot from eBay! We think we got it at a good bargain.

We have also decided to find out the sex of our baby. Husband prefers a girl. I prefer a boy…I think! Ah well, at least one of us will be happy but I’m sure we’ll be fine either way! We will know in a few weeks time!

We have also started training our dogs by buying a crying/laughing baby doll! They seem really excited at first and wanted to jump up to see what’s going on. Peanut is fine now. Once she had a sniff, she was fine. Buddy was more excited. I think he actually knows that it is a toy. He doesn’t want to rip it apart but he just wants to sniff it and find out why it’s crying. He knows not to go into the nursery too. When I carried the doll into the nursery, he wanted to follow me. I am very proud of him! It took only 2 ‘NO!!’ for him to understand that the nursery is out of bounds. He would wait outside for me while I pretend to walk round the nursery with the ‘baby’ in my arms! What a good boy!

Peanut wasn’t bothered. She would just leave us alone.

Well I hope when the baby is here they will be alright with it. I’m sure they will be. They are good dogs!

In the meantime, we have this renovation at home to look forward too and I’m also going to start looking at herbs and recipes for confinement!

Confinement refers to the 3 months after childbirth. It is for the mother to restore her health after childbirth. She must have adequate rest and consume nutritious food. Yes FOOD. Yum. I always enjoyed the confinement food my mum cooks for my sisters. It has lots of ginger and wine in it!

I won’t be going back to SIngapore to give birth and my mum can’t come so I’ll have to teach my husband how to cook them for me. Luckily one of my sisters bought me a book full of confinement food recipes so I think it will be ok. I just need to find the herbs required. I have also decided to make my own glutinous rice wine too! It is required for lots of the recipe and I can’t seem to find any here. It’s quite simple to make. I just need to get all the tools and ingredients!

Categories: Baby, Dogs, Family, Life, Me | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Good News

One Spring in Japan

A single ramen noodle

Bun in the oven

And that is why I haven’t been blogging.

I have been so tired the last few weeks. I didn’t have much appetite and just didn’t want to do anything.

I’m 14 weeks now and this weekend is the first time where I’ve stayed up past 10pm!! I’ve been going to bed at 8.30pm! I feel I’m back to normal now.

We’re obviously very excited and very nervous too! So many things to do and plan before the little one arrives! We’re not sure if we want to know the sex of the baby yet. We have until September to make up our mind!

I’m feeling hungry (again!) now so I’m off to have something to eat!

See ya!

Categories: Baby, Family, Haiku, Japan, Language | 2 Comments

Good Neighbours, Bad Neighbours

I like my neighbours…except for one family.

We are currently planning to have our house extended. A few of our neighbours are naturally concerned. Our immediate neighbour was worried that he could hear what we were doing in the new toilet downstairs! My mother-in-law who was house-sitting and dog-sitting for us told him that we would have to fart 150 decibles for him to hear it. He laughed and said that’s true and he was ok with our plans.

A few days later, we saw a comment from one of our neighbours who lives 4 houses away from us on the council planning website. He said he didn’t have the chance to talk to us as we were out of the country. It’s strange that a few neighbours came to talk to my MIL and yet he couldn’t do that? Maybe he wanted to talk to us instead of my MIL, fine..I accept that..but we were back before he submitted the comment!

On the comment form, he said he wasn’t prepared for the front path to be used (we live in a row of terrace houses. We are at the end and to get to our property, we have to walk past his house) for transporting building materials. His main reason was that his two year old girl plays in the front garden and the path!

Ok you can play in your garden all you want, the path is not your property! It is also our intention to ask the builders to use the back path anyway so that our neighbours will not be inconvenienced! He is also lying because they both work and I am sure the child is not being looked after at home. If he is so concerned about his child safety, why has he removed the fence and not replaced it with another one for the past 1 year?

What really annoyed me is the fact that he had to point out that the applicant (my husband) is not the owner of the house (me!). He got the information from the land registry and to get this information, you have to pay £3 for it! OMG! He actually did that?? I also found out he is a solicitor specialising in debt recovery. So I think either he had paid the £3 to get the information or used the data at his workplace for personal interest! GRRR! This is so petty of him to do that!

We checked with the planning officer and apparently anyone can make a planning application, not just the home owner!

This really annoyed me because this person is out to have our planning application rejected!!! What a twat!!!  He’s not a very neighbourly person anyway. When it snows, he is never there to help clear the snow so cars can move up and down our lane! This is how selfish and annoying he is!! Also the wife never smiles back when I smile and say hello to her… -_-

I have also started to put my dogs on the lead whenever we walk past his house in case he tries to find fault with us or say we have two “dangerous dogs” (they are not!). You never know what people are capable of!

Anyway, I have decided… they are not going to get a Christmas card from me this year or ever! HAHAHA!!

Categories: Life | Tags: | 2 Comments

Kyoto and Himeji

After Miyajima, we headed off to Kyoto.  We spent about 4 days in Kyoto and half a day in Himeji.

Our first morning in Kyoto was spent trying to find a way to get to Himeji as there had been an earthquake early in the morning. Some train lines were suspended. We felt the earthquake while asleep in bed! The building we were in was shaking! We didn’t know it was an earthquake then as we were so tired and went back to bed!! It was only later in the morning when I received a message from my Japanese friend that I found out it was really an earthquake!

Luckily the lines started running again within a few hours so we were able to go to Himeji to meet my friends. I stayed with them when I was an exchange student at Himeji Uni in 1999!! We didn’t visit Himeji Castle this time as it is under restoration until March 2015. We walked around Himeji city center and did some souvenir shopping.

I really like Kyoto. Not just because I can say Ookini all the time (Thank you in Kansai dialect  but also because there are so many wonderful things to see. Like the Kiyomizu Temple, Kinkakuji (The Golden Pavilion), Fushimi-Inari Shrine, Heian Shrine and Geishas and Maiko in Gion.

Speaking of Geisha and Maiko, I realised that you could now pay and dress up as one and walk around the Kiyomizu Temple area!! I was very excited when I saw some ‘Maiko’ but then realised that they just tourists playing dress up! Tsk! But I got some nice photos though.

I was also very lucky to see some real Geisha and Maiko in Gion. We were just walking along, minding our business, when out of an orange coloured sky, flash! bam! alakazam! Wonderful geisha came by! (Did you see what I was doing there? haha!) Then I heard snap! snap! snap! I turned around and saw a few Japanese men with large lenses snapping away! Some of them even presented photos they have taken of the Geisha to her. I took some pictures too and thought they must be “Geisha Spotting”. It was only after I posted the pictures on facebook that I realised they were famous!

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Geiko Kyouka and Maiko Satsuki.

Maiko Mikako

Maiko Mikako

We also enjoyed eating in Kyoto. We discovered Musashi sushi located at the basement of Kyoto Station. (It is opposite Macdonald’s ).  136 yen for each plate of sushi! We had 34 plates between the two of us!

Dinner at Musashi Sushi

Musashi Sushi

We had 34 plates in total!

We had 34 plates between the two of us!!

We also had some awesome shoyu ramen at Dai-ichi Asahi Ramen near Kyoto station. We had to queue up every time we were there as it is so popular. The service was quick but jovial. Every time a customer leaves, they would all say “OOKINI!!” which means thank you in Kansai dialect. They open from 5am to 2am! Yes!  5 AM to 2 AM! On their website they put the opening hours as 05:00 to 26:00!! haha! You can even order the ramen online. They only deliver in Japan of course!

Dai-ichi Asahi Ramen – Kyoto

We also discovered Ichiran Ramen in Kyoto. Unlike Dai-ichi Asahi, they are a big chain with shops all over the country and they serve tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. I love tonkotsu ramen! The atmosphere in Ichiran is also very different from that in Dai-ichi Asahi. Firstly, you will need to get a coupon from the vending machine and choose whatever extra topping you want eg. egg, spring onions, garlic, vinegar, tenderness of the noodle etc. While waiting for the table or while at the table, you will be giving a form to choose whether you want your ramen to have a strong or light flavour, if you want garlic or not or how oily you want it to be. Most of the seats at Ichiran ramen are counter seats. There is also a divider between the seats so you won’t be able to see the person next to you. You can remove the divider too if you want. Also, because of how the way it is set up, I never got to see the face of the waiter/waitress unless I pressed the buzzer to call them over.

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Besides enjoying good food and spotting beautiful Geishas, we also managed to see some Cherry Blossoms in full bloom! We missed the peak by about a week! We saw a few here and there but didn’t think much of it. We saw the full bloom Sakura by chance. We were walking past Kyoto Gyoen National Park and decided to go in as we were really tired and needed a rest. (It was another half an hour walk back to our hotel!!). After a rest (Ali had a nap for 20min!!), we walked around the park and saw this:

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Sakura!

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I was so happy to finally see them in full bloom, UP CLOSE! Aren’t they beautiful?

Categories: Culture, Japan, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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