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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sorry about the lack of pictures - blogger is still being stupid about photos, even though I switched to blogger beta in the hopes that upgrading would bounce me over to a different set of photo servers or whatever is causing this problem... Did it work? Of course not! I'm going to try throwing up a couple of pictures taken with the little sony camera to see if it's getting hung up on the file size... We shall see...

Anyway, Happy Halloween to everyone! We had a few trick or treaters today, I'm not sure exactly how many because we weren't home for the whole time, but it seemed to be a fairly good turnout, and we got through almost two bags of candy. Poor Venus was very sad she didn't get to play with all the kids! To stop any confusion about which house was celebrating or not, there were neighbourhood wide signs saying to decorate if you'd be participating, however, it pointedly said that 'there was no application required' to participate in the giving out of candy -
I'm glad that I don't have to apply to give out treats!

We duly decorated before heading out this afternoon, although I have to say we didn't exactly have the most impressive effort on the block! (and look at that, after all my whinging, the smaller photos uploaded no problem... Technology!)

close up on my handsome sign!

Pete had a meeting near Harajuku again, so I got a ride with him, and walked to the Shibuya Ward Office to pick up my official gaijin card - I'm now an official alien! I walked back through Yoyogi Koen, where the World Volleyball championships are currently happening-I had to stop with a group of people on the sidewalk to let a tour bus with the Japanese national team on it through the gates, much to the excitement of some of the fans waiting with me, autograph pads at the ready. Seemingly volleyball is a pretty big sport here in Japan!

I did a bit of shopping at GAP and got a pair of jeans (in mammoth sizes for me compared to at home, very depressing here!), and a white top... I really think there should be some kind of standard sizing, or at least going by measurements or something, its ridiculous that jeans which are exactly the same size if held up together, and from basically the same company (old navy at home, GAP here), could be exactly doubled in size on the tag. Although I guess to accomplish that, you'd have to go into negative sizes or something to fit in everyone over here... But really, measurements would be a good way to go, everywhere, because even between different stores in one country you can be different by like 4-6 sizes, which doesn't help anyone!

Annnnyway, Pete and I came home at 5:30ish, and did some more Hawaii research, I think we're finally coming to a solution/conclusion for everyone who is worried about getting their flights, etc. in order, we'll be calling Hawaii when they wake up tonight, and then will call everyone else as we find out what is going on...

And that's about it, just hanging out mostly and waiting for Pete to get home - he went back out to another meeting at 9, and for it to be late enough to call Hawaii and Pacific businesses...

Back to uploading more photos I think, and tommorow is the vaulting research day part two! Very exciting!

Monday, October 30, 2006


So my photo uploading issues seem to be largely related to trying to upload Pete's huge image files from his Nikon, as it uploaded the small sony images with no trouble. No photo editing software on this computer, so I'll have to remember to take snapshots for now, and then figure something out when I take my canon out on a photo expedition...

Anyway, I've edited this post to add some photos from the JRA riding place, more to come on November 1st, as I'm going back to watch the jumping and find out about vaulting...

Looking back towards the main entrance...this is the main walkway....
paddocks, there were probably 40? in total, in and around the trees and double fenced - nice!
grass ring, for jumpers I'm assuming
part of the XC course (its not a huge one, maybe 3'6-3'9" or something?)
Dressage ring w/ the three judging booths
Main grand prix jumper ring. The jumps are set for the student show this week
looking across a schooling ring to the jumper ring
they've taken a dirt track and converted it into lots of ring areas with jumps and stuff...
stabling again...
Map of the complex so you can get a bit of an idea...


Right now, I hate blogger! It won't upload my pictures from yesterday, so I'm assuming it won't upload today's either. I'm also having some iify-issues with publishing my blog, but from what I gather from the message boards, it's not just me. Anyway, its still saving my posts, even if no one else can see them, so the plan is to keep blogging, and post when it lets me, so that I stay in the habit.

Today was a very exciting day!!!!

Started the day with a run (sans el lazy bones) and stopped at the park to do some fitness on their climbing structure (really, I wasn't playing!) I hitched a ride to Omotesando with Pete and then walked to Shibuya to get on a train and start my adventuring...

I headed to Ebisu to Good Day Books and got a couple of books there (its a big English language used bookstore), which was exciting in itself, I literally can't be without a book for a day, but we all knew that, so anyway... Unfortunately, I finished the first one already, less than eight hours later, so the three I bought, even though one is fairly long, and the other two aren't particularly short, won't really last me too long :( 100 pages an hour doesn't make reading a particularly cost efficient activity for me, I need to kindle a source for ARCs over here!

Anyway, after that, I took a train back to Shibuya, stopped at a Starbucks so I could start my new book, and then walked home (well as far as Yoyogi Uehara eki). Yesterday, I found a couple of vague references to some horse facility in Baji Koen, and I'd planned on checking it out, but by today, it was seeming like a lot of work (train, walking, etc) since I didn't know what it was going to be like.

I finally ended the internal debate by deciding that I could find someone to try and find out if there is any vaulting in Tokyo, and since I was wearing my vaulting jacket, I figured I could use the badges (which show a person doing a flag), as a visual aide in case they didn't know wtf vaulting was (pretty common even with native English speakers! If you're one of them, you can check out this link, and this one to get an idea of what its all about)

Anyway, I finally made it to the correct train stop (actually pretty close to Pete's house!), and then made a pit stop at a bakery, which was exciting discovery number 2 of the day - Despite what Pete might say, I'm in LOVE with bakeries here now! You get a tray and tongs, and then you get to load up on carby delights :) I got fantastic white bread (sooo good if nutritionally lacking), a buttery, garlicy bun, and some amazing cinnamon sugar-y donuty delio... Very good snacking while I hiked around the rest of the day!

After getting directions from a fellow shopper, I set off on the twenty minute hike to Baji Koen, sponsored by the JRA (Japan Racing Association). When I got there, it was SO worth the trip! Unlike a regular riding barn, which I was expecting, this is a full out horse park, with a 'grandprix' ring, several dressage rings, about 40 small paddocks, a track now converted into sand jumping areas, a huge grass ring, stabling, lunging arenas, a cross country course, and a big huge common walkway type area...

The whole thing is built around a regular park kind of, so there are human walking trails in between paddocks and stuff, and you can go on the xc course when its not in use, there is a traditional garden running between a couple of the xc jumps, and there is a playground or two on the site as well, its a fantastic mixed use project, and there were tons of families hanging out today.

There were also a bunch of riders working with their VERY nice warmbloods, and a 4'3" -4'6" ish sized stadium course being set up, so I watched them work for a bit.

Anyway, I hiked around for awhile, and then gathered up the courage to try and find out something about vaulting. I couldn't see an obvious office for general enquiries, so I headed to what looked like the show office when it seemed quiet, and luckily they had a bilingual lady on staff named 'Suzuki, not Honda' lol, who was able to tell me that JRA offices were closed and would be open on Wednesday, and she'd be here to come with me and talk to them, but in the mean time - yes, the only vaulting club in Japan happens to meet here! She said she wasn't totally sure if I'd be able to train with them, but she'd come with me to talk to them, and I really really really really hope I can convince them to let me train with them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She also told me that it was a Japanese Student rider (i think she meant university team riders) competition this week, showjumping tuesday - Thursday, and then dressage on Friday, and xc on the weekend... Anyway, I really hope something comes of this - cross your fingers for me!

On the way back to the station I stopped in next door at the very nice tack store, Cavallo, and checked out the super nice imported German (mostly) tack and stuff they had. What they had wasn't super over priced, but they didn't carry anything cheap, making the end product an expensive but not overly inflatedly so tack shop which was very drool worthy! No vaulting stuff though unfortunately...

Anyway, bounced my way back home, and then read w/ Venus until Pete came home. We made KD for dinner and dressed it up with left over spaghetti sauce to mixed reviews - some classics shouldn't be tampered with too much!

Other than that, just a quiet evening to Desperate Housewifering and reading, updating the blog, msn etc....

will keep you updated on the vaulting front - I can't wait for Wednesday!!!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

- blogger was down yesterday, so I'm posting today, but this entry is actually from the 29th...

Post number forty! This must be some sort of record for me!!
Also, check out one of the noted blogs this week - Upgrade Travel - its got some interesting stuff on there, and some good links...

We all got up fairly early for us today, and I made French toast and bacon for everyone. After we all got organized to leave, Peter and Venus and I dropped Hitomi off at the station, and she headed home, and then Pete and Venus and I continued on to the dog park.

Venus was in heaven playing with all the other dogs in the off leash area at Komazawa Olympic Park. (not an official website, but there are some nice photos). There were TONS of dogs there, and Venus made lots of friends, though most of them were human, the dogs, she could take or leave :) We saw pure bred dogs of all varieties including a few labs, a couple of weimeraners, about 6 jack russells belonging to the same family, tons and tons of veeerrry cute long haired dauchsaunds, a whole whack of tiny little guys, and one very interesting dog that looked like it was a black lab/golden retriever cross, very dramatic!

Venus made fast friends with a little group of small dogs, including one wearing a dashing pumpkin costume, and they played fetch for quite some time. There were several small dogs in outfits ranging from jeans and a tee shirt, to frilly skirts, to school girl uniforms. There were also several bows on little poodle ears.

After the dog park, we walked/lurched around part of the rest of the park, with a VERY pully Venus! There happened to be a huge soccer tournament for the eight and under set at the big stadium, so we checked that out, and there were hundreds of kids all kitted out in very nice uniforms when we were walking around. We went to check out a pond/water feature around a tower where there was a flame for the Olympics, and while Venus was wading in it, we noticed that some kids had lost their soccer ball into the water. It was kind of a two tiered affair, so one of the kids who was about 8 or 9 was elected to walk out along the ledge in the middle and reach down to collect the ball, which was in about 3 feet of water at that point. It was all going well enough for him, until he decided to throw the ball back across the water (about 15 feet) to his friends. Unfortunately for the poor kid, he threw himself into the water with the ball! This wouldn't have been that big a deal, except that on his way into the water, he bounced, crotch first off the sharp ledge prior to splooshing into the water.

The poor guy hauled himself out of the water with a very sad mixture of shock, embarrassment and pain. It was pretty funny though, in a 'I really shouldn't be laughing about this, but there is no way that I can stop now' sort of way. The poor kid wrang himself out a little bit and then went back to the dry side, eventually, an adult came and a bigger kid VERY carefully walked across to get the ball, and brought it back, no throwing attempted.

We continued on our walk, and I had V since Pete had a coffee, we were getting into a good natured discussion about who was leading our walk, until she spotted an errant ball, just as we were on a slick patch and pulled me straight onto my ass. Unfortunately, Pete was right in the way, and I very nearly used him as a bowling pin on my skid through the mud. I guess it serves me right for laughing at the kid, since there were little kids laughing at me and my errant Labrador.

We finally dragged ourselves through the park (which was very nice!), and then went to Sizzler for a very yummy 'linner'. Salad bars to go with your meal are a very lovely idea! Then, we headed home and now Pete continues to catch himself up on Desperate Houswives, while I update the blog... I'll post photos of the dog park and of the Olympic Park (complete with 16-18 year old guys practicing their hip hop moves with skipping ropes!) in the next post, once I get them off Pete's camera (and mine).


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Not much to blog about today, but there was almost nothing, so at least now there is something ;)

We all slept in after our late night Korean BBQ feast, and then Hitomi made yummy bacon and eggs. The eggs here are cause for debate re: which eggs are scary - the pale yellow yokes of north america, or the crazy bright fluorescent yellow yokes of Japanese eggs. At first, I thought the yokes here looked like farm eggs at home, but after I examined it more closely, I think there was a definite glow, unnatural in the farm world... In any case, they were totally yummy, and since I still only have one head, that's all that really matters!

We then continued the Hawaii trip research project, and finally, at about 5pm headed out to Omotesando. Hitomi did a little bit of shoe shopping, and Pete and I headed to get a drink at Nathan's hot dogs. Unfortunately for Pete, the Omotesando Nathan's is no more, which is very sad!

We also checked out Sony Plaza, the full of completely useless yet strangely entertaining crap shop. They had several small tabletop 'crumb' vacuums in the shape of a pig or elephant or dog, a frying pan the size of a small coaster, and several other equally random items.

We then went to check out the absolutely gigantic Tokyo flagship Ralph Lauren store, which is based on the White House or something - its a pretty commanding building! Check out this article on the Ralph Lauren website for information about the store, plus some photos to give you an idea of what this 'mansion of fashion' looks like - pretty impressive!

Then, for a bit of contrast, we headed to Shakey's for dinner, and had some good ol' American Pizza. Randomly, however, one type of pizza (we got a mix of four styles on one pizza, like in four quadrants), had potatoes and mayonnaise on it! Anyway, it was basically exactly what you might imagine when someone tells you they are going to the pizza parlor, it's basically right out of central casting.

Anyway, we headed home a little while ago, and now Hitomi and Peter are FINALLY starting to catch up on season 2 of Desperate Housewives, so that we can move on to season three (thank goodness you can buy it on itunes episode by episode so I won't have to wait for the DVD in August to find out what happens!)

I'm going to work on my hardcopy scrapbook of this blog, and possibly take Vchan on an icecream run to the Circle K, if I have the energy....

Friday, October 27, 2006

Edo-Tokyo Museum... sorry the pictures are so dark - photography was OK, but flash wasn't reccomended...

Orbitune office party pictures:
More Glitterball pictures..

Ok, well I managed to get this one photo of Jordon and me uploaded, but it keeps timing out, so I'll try again tommorow...
I've been trying to upload new glitterball pictures, as well as Orbitune office party photos from Pete's camera, but blogger is screwing me over and timing out repeatedly, so I'll blog about today first and then try and go back and update with the additional photos from yesterday.

Pete had an early (well 10am) meeting this am, so I got him to wake me up when he left and then headed to the Tokyo-Edo Museum for bit of culture or history (finally! :) )... It was actually very interesting, and much more detailed than you would first expect when walking in. They pack a lot of info into a fairly open floor plan, and a lot of the signs are in English, so there is lots to take in and learn! The museum is about Tokyo from the Samurai age, when it was called Edo, through to the 1964 Olympics. There were some amazing scale models of areas of the city, remarkable buildings, a kabuki theatre, etc. the models ranged in scale from 1:60, through 1:1. The displays were super detailed, and looked like they would have been really fun to make! There was an amazing amount of detail work in them, and they were as interesting to examine as the actual subject matter!

They also had artifacts from the time, as well as some exhibits which you could touch, climb on, etc. depending on what it was - I took a picture of a pedicab that was a predecessor to good old Kabuki Kabs at home, though ours looked much more comfortable than this one did!

I took a break from the museum (it was re entry all day) to go and get some money out of an ATM, which should have been a simple task, but of course, wasn't. It took three ATMs to find one that had an English button, and then when I finally managed to accomplish that, it didn't support the Plus network. So I checked out in my guidebook how to ask where the bank is, and headed to a hotel to do so. The problem with asking for directions in Japanese, is that people tend to answer in Japanese, which given my current grasp of the language situation can be a bit of an issue! I finally got a map and some directions and went hiking to the local bank, which wasn't able to deal with my bank card either. However, they were able to tell me that the local post office would be able to help me, so several sets of directions later, I found another hotel which housed a post office on the second floor and finally, forty-five minutes into the search, got some money out so I wouldn't starve and be stranded way out by the museum.

It's interesting here how there are lots of offices and shops and other public type things on the 2F and 3F of buildings, as opposed to at home, where all the public stuff is on street level generally, and private offices or empty spaces are above. It's much more efficient, but also means there is a lot more ground to be visually scanning when you are looking for whatever...

Met Pete back at the office and we headed home for a couple of hours of chilling out with Venus and not doing too much, before leaving at about 9:40 to meet Hitomi for dinner. By this point we were both VERY ready for food, so we hiked eagerly up the hill for some Korean BBQ. It was very yummy! I even ate tongue!! A new experience for me (you dip it in lemon juice!) but it was pretty good, and definitely shared some characteristics with Canadian/Back Bacon.

We had a nice dinner and then walked/rolled back down the hill to home, and now I'm just updating this, and will have another go at those pictures as well...


(btw, shouldn't the blogger spell checker know words like 'blog', 'blogging', and 'blogger'? Just a thought.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

So after sleeping off the Glitterball etc. from last night, Pete woke me up at 11:30 this morning, to let me know that there was a lunch @ Orbitune I was invited to - It was several people's birthday recently, so we had pizza and some very very yummy icecream cakes (and a good shortcake that came out later) to celebrate. Everyone surprised me with a welcome to Japan present - a very nice daytimer with some gorgeous photos from all around Japan. Thank You! It is from 2007 which works out nicely - my social calendar should be filling up by then ;)

Hung out at the office for a couple of hours - we tried to eat our way through the mountains of food and played with the dry ice from the icecream cake container (how cool is that, for like 20Y you can buy chunks of dry ice at Baskin Robbins) - I looooove dry ice, its so fun and bubbly!

We recapped the glitterball and all agreed Pete's costume was hilarious for the people there who knew Pete, Kong, or both. The other 990 or so people probably thought he was either Steven Spielberg or some variety of random dude...

Headed home after that and watched a little bit of LFTV.. Venus and I fell asleep watching Leno, just like Elli-blot and I do back home... (Blotty, I might have a V-chan over here, but I still miss you! Any humans reading this that might like to give him a treat from me are very much encouraged to do so!)

When I woke up, I got to work on my scrapbook the blog project, and got through the first few days, adding photos, postcards, tickets, and maps, etc. to the blog entries - it's turning into a pretty comprehensive log of my trip! I really, really, really want to keep it up! So far so good, let's hope I can make it to the 21 day mark (where something becomes a habit, I think)

Then just a quiet dinner at home for V. and me, it's 11:25 and we're still waiting for Pete to come home from work, he claims he's coming home soon, but he claimed that at 9pm as well, so we're not holding out too much hope ;). Anyway, a nice quiet day to blog, read the magazines I forgot I never read on the plane and hang out a bit at home...

Should have pictures of the lunch and of the party last night if/when Pete gets home with his camera....

So Glitterball is over, and what a party it was! There were over 1000 people at Velfarre in Roppongi, and some pretty fantastic costumes on display. Even though I forgot my hard to find gloves (!!!!!) my flapper costume went off pretty well I think, and Pete's costume - Kamasami Kong was a total hit with anyone who knows Kong. Some people didn't recognize Pete under there, and when Kong showed up at the end, as himself, it was great to have the two of them together! Mostly going to have this blog be pictures, so here goes: General crowd shot of the main dance floor - there are three levels in Velfarre - an upstairs entrance level, a VIP drinks level where you can look over the dance floor, and then the main dance floor with a bar on either side, a stage at the front and the DJ/light booth at the back.
Cool shot of the lights
The two Kongs
Mibu, 'Kong', Marina, Nana
Mibu, Marina, Nana
Mibu, Me, ( the guy in the back knew one of those three, but I'm not sure how), Marina, Nana
'Kong' and Dutch Mark the school girl
The second place winner in the costume competition, he's won before so they didn't seem to want him to win again...
The Met Pod Crew - 'Kong', Susie Newsie and Jordon (note the drink on his shoulder - people kept stashing beer on that convenient surface in the middle of the room)
The winners of the trip for two to Brazil, courtesy of American Airlines, who were one of the major sponsors of the evening. These four are dressed as a famous Japanese biker gang, - a lot of work went into their costumes!

Pete just before we left
Venus getting into the act, and a little confused/wanting to eat her costume

There will be more pictures of last night from Pete's camera later...

After Glitterball ended at around midnight, Pete, Kong, Mibu, Marina, and I went to Velours which is the place to be on Wednesday and Saturdays.... Yesterday, it was so much the place to be that it resembled an overstuffed, albeit swanky, sardine can. From the website it looks pretty cool, but honestly, we couldn't see much when we were in there! Kong, Pete and I lasted rougly five minutes before escaping nextdoor to Bluestone, a very nice, laid back bar which only had one other group in it while we were there. We hung out there for an hour or so, and had a nice chat and some drinks with Kong before Pete and I came in and he greatfully scraped off his beard before we fell into bed at about 3am.

Incidentally, the beard was quite a challenge to make and took Pete nearly an hour! We cut off some of the hair from his wig, especially what was hidden under the hat, and then trimmed it down to a shorter length before using theatrical glue to piece it together on his face. It was pretty funny since it shed for the entire night - it was amazing that there was any hair left by the end of the night!

Anyway, that's it for the first installment of the glitterball afterblog. I'll post more photos later when I get Pete's