This summer was the best.
One of my worries about having and raising kids here in Japan was that their childhood memories would be so completely different to mine. I had a pretty great childhood in rural England and growing up in urban Japan just seemed so foreign (duh) that I couldn’t imagine how it would compare.
And the toddler’s childhood so far has been different to mine – of course it has – not just everyday stuff but big events and holidays too. Christmas is the obvious one – while it is an event here, the 25th itself is just an ordinary working day and Japanese Christmas cake bears very very little resemblance to a ‘proper’ one. But it’s easy enough to have an English-style Christmas dinner (minus the parsnips) and with a tree and decorations and a stocking it’s not really all that different from Christmas back home.
An English Summer, though, is harder to fake, with insane humidity, weeks of 35+ degree weather and no long, light evenings. This was the first year that the toddler’s been old enough to really enjoy what our little city has to offer in summer – nap time is no longer sacred and bedtime can be stretched out. So we took early morning and evening trips to our favourite beach, hit up as many local matsuri as we could, watched the fireworks and ate somen and kakigori by the bucket load. The toddler spent hours in the sea, got bored after 10 minutes of fireworks and danced her geta off at every matsuri.
At home we pretended over and over to go to Daiei to buy yukata which we then wore to imaginary matsuri and I could see her building her own idea (and adding to mine) of what summer is all about.
149: First day of rainy season
151: Etcha-sketchy Mama
152: Big Balloon
153: Fakewell Tart
154: It rained!
155: Little Teddy
Yet another round of colds, plus sky-high PM 2.5 levels,meant a long stretch of inside days.
140: New House
141: More Bread
142: Chimney Dinosaur
These were taken months ago now, and it feels like it, with summer fast (too fast) approaching. We arrived back in Japan in mid-March, sakura already halfway to full bloom. Our last trip to the UK was in 2011, just after the earthquake, and we got back home just too late for the blossoms, so it was extra sweet to be in time this year.
The toddler seemed to really enjoy sakura season this year, pointing out “more cherry blossom” all over the city, and picking up stray blossoms to give to me and the husband. She got into the hanami spirit too, and actually sat still long enough to have a picnic of sandwiches and sekihan (and beer for me) under a cherry tree in a local park. There was still a lot of taking turns to chase her as she ran around, of course.
Last year’s pictures, here.
Trams = very exciting indeed
We spent a few days in Nagasaki city over the Golden Week break. It’s been at the top of my must-visit list for a while, and I’m so glad we made it; I fell a little bit in love with the place.
The day we arrived, it rained and rained. Cheap umbrellas providing totally inadequate coverage, we headed out to the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, a lovely building housing a small collection, including some of Shomei Tomatsu’s beautiful photographs of atomic bomb survivors.
Clock stopped at 11:02 on August 9th, 1945
The following day, I visited the Atomic Bomb Museum by myself while the toddler and husband explored the nearby Peace Park. I don’t really know what to write about it, other than it was incredibly sad, and that if you get the chance, you should go.
Paper Cranes at the Atomic Bomb Museum
Nagasaki was a big success with the toddler, too. As if the excitement of sleeping in a hotel wasn’t enough (it totally was), we found a fantastic Bornelund ‘Kid o Kid’ play centre in a department store, and took a trip to the Penguin Aquarium on the outskirts of the city. The views from the bus on the way to the aquarium were stunning, as were those on the train journey to Nagasaki.
Koinobori outside the Penguin Aquarium