Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tsukiji Fish Market

Millions of fish and seafood go to the Tsukiji fish market every morning. Thousands of people go there to buy and sell the fish and seafood. If you want to go there, you need to get up unbelievably early. The hustle and bustle starts at 4:30 am, and keeps on going until about 9:30 am. The market sells seafood of all kinds from all over the world. There are octopuses, clams, and every kind of fish you can imagine, including the blue-finned tuna which comes from Boston. It is one of the best tunas you can get, and it sells for thousands of dollars in Japan. Before the Japanese discovered it in Boston, Americans used it in cat food. If you want to buy good fish, go to the Tsukiji market.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Lost in Translation?

If you have ever tried to learn a new language, you know it is a hard thing to do. Sometimes the words just don't come out right. That's true when I try to speak Japanese! And it's sometimes true when people here write signs in English to help out people like me my family. Take a look at these signs. I figured out what they meant. Can you?

Friday, May 4, 2007

What to do at a Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony)

1. Wait and admire the garden until the person who is hosting the ceramony tells you to come in.
2. When the host tells you to, come in to the room and sit down.
3. The host will serve you some dry sweet cakes. Eat them.
4. When you're done with your sweets, the host might serve you another sweet. If she does, eat that sweet too.
5. Watch the host clean all the materials for making tea, includining the bamboo wisk (chasen), the tea scoop (chasaku) and the tea bowl (chawan). All this cleaning will take a litte while.
6. Watch the tea-maker (the host) make the tea. You will be drinking macha, a stronger version of green tea made from powder. It is frothier that regular green tea.
7. When the tea-maker serves you your tea, before you take a sip, hold the tea-bowl in your palm.
8. Turn the cup around clockwise so that the picture on the cup faces the host. This shows respect for the host.
9. Now, finally, you get to drink your tea.
10. When you are done with your tea, the tea-maker will clear your cup and clean it. She will also clean the materials for making the tea again.
11. The tea ceremony is over.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What's your fortune?

In the shrines and temples in Japan there is usually a form of omikuji, or fortune telling. At most shines and temples you either pick a fortune out of a box or you shake a stick with a number on it out of a box and the number tells you which fortune you get. But, unlike fortune cookies, the fortunes aren't always good. If you get a bad one you tie it up at the temple with all the other bad fortunes. Sometimes the trees have so many bad fortunes on them that they look like flowers! (click on the photo of the tree for a better look). I got a bad fortune, so I tied it up. Another form of omikuji that we saw at a shrine was the heavy light rock. There is a rock and you make a wish and imagine how heavy the rock is. Then you pick up the rock. If it is heavier than you imagined, your wish won't come true. If the rock is lighter than you imagined, your wish will come true. But beware — the rock is really heavy!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mil uno budas, mas de mil portillos

¿Por qué hay mil uno budas en el templo Sanjusangen-do? ¿Y por qué hay más de mil portillos en el templo shitoísta Fushimi-Inari Taisha? Cada uno tiene su historia. El templo Sanjusangen-do está aquí porque un emperador construyó mil uno budas por que tenía muchos dolores de cabeza. Creía que los budas pararían sus dolores de cabeza, y lo más budas lo menos dolores de cabeza. El templo shintoísta Fushimi-Inari Taisha es un templo para hacer crecer arroz y suerte para los granjeros. Tiene miles de portillos porque cualquier persona puede comprar un portillo para poner en el templo. Ahora, la mayoría de las personas no son granjeros, entonces personas compran unLo m portillo para tener suerte en su trabajo. Lo más portillos, lo más suerte en los trabajos.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Better than Whole Foods

Why go to the grocery store when instead you can go to the Nishiki Market in Kyoto? The market is about five blocks long and it has tons of small shops. Each shop has its specialty. There is one shop that sells only tofu. Another sells pickled root vegetables. A different one's mastered seafood. It's truly a super market.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

3,000 People

A sea of people crosses the street every few minutes at Shibuya, one of the busiest shopping and tranportation areas in Tokyo. I estimate that about 3,000 people cross the intersection every crosssing. The people are coming from twelve different directions. It is an amazing sight.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Estupendo Reloj

Si vas a la calle Kaminarimon Dori vas a ver un reloj enorme. Este reloj parece normal, pero no es. Cada hora a la hora el reloj abre, y sale una sorpresa. En un lado, salen bailadores vestidos como pájaros. (Las personas en el reloj no son personas reales.) Al otro lado, salen unos niños con una cometa de dragón. Y en el centro, otros niños llevando un "shrine" pequeño en sus hombros. Todas las figuras están bailando y cantando. Este reloj representa el festival real que hay en el famoso Asakusa Temple cerca del reloj. Es fantastico ver este reloj a la hora.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Treat Street

My friend Flora wanted to know if there were any other good Japanese sweets besides manju. It just so happens that today I went to Asakusa Temple, where there are lots of traditional Japanese treats (Japanese sweets are called wagashi). After going through the giant gate, we tried a version of dango, which is balls of mochi (a marshmallowy paste made from mashed rice) on a stick dipped in sweet flour or sauce. The next thing we sampled was a puffy, salty popcorn-like sweet. We don't know what it is called but it is delicious. Our next stop was okashi. Okashi are crackers made out of rice. They come in lots of flavors. Our favorite flavor was plain. Another thing we tasted was fried mochi with red bean paaste inside. The cooks were cooking them on the spot. They were delicious. Last but not least, we tried another dango at a different shop. Every treat on "treat street" was great!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Five Words

Last weekend, my family and I went to a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) in the mountains that is famous for its hot springs. Here are five words that I now know from going there:

Onsen: Onsen are natural hot spings that are really hot. Some are indside and some are outside. You have to get naked to go in them--no bathing suits allowed!
Yukata: Yukata are Japanese robes that you wear around the onsen. You wear them without anything underneath.
Maguro: Giant tuna -- the one we ate for dinner (raw) weighed 125 kilos. it was very tasty. (We didn't eat all of it.)
Futon: Mattresses on the floor with pillows and blankets instead of beds. They are really comfortable. During the day they are rolled up in a closet.
Manju: A Japanese sweet treat. It has a sticky, sweet, brown and delicious outside made out of mashed sweetened rice (It sounds bad but don't worry, it tastes really good.) The inside is a red bean paste.

If you ever go to Japan,make sure you go to an onsen!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Swinging in Japan

Even if you are in Tokyo where a lot of things are different, there are still playgrounds with the same kinds of playground equipment as the U.S, like swings and slides. We have already been to a few, and even though they are metal and a bit rusty, they are still playgrounds. There was one great thing in a playground that we went to in Hibiya Koen that me and Eliza couldn't stop playing on. It was a Tarzan-like rope swing. There were two ropes on pulleys next to eachother, and you grab a rope, climb up the ladder, swing, and go zooming across. We swang on it until our palms started to get blisters!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chiquito, Pequeño, Minúsculo

Todas las cosas que ves en Japón son chiquitas. Los coches son chiquitos. No sé porque, pero así son. Las personas son pequeñas. Cuando fuimos a un parque había unos niños pequeños, y eran mucho más chiquitos que mi hermono, Saul. Si vas al supermercado para comprar helado, no encuentras los cartones grandes que hay en los Estados Unidos. Encuentras cajas muy, muy pequeñas, suficiente para una persona o menos. Muchas cosas en Japón sun chiquitas, pequeñas y minúsculas.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Toilet Trouble

When I first got to the apartment I'm staying in, I had to go to the bathroom. I ran to the toilet, but then I stopped. "Oh no," I thought. The toilet had a strip of buttons on it. I sat on the toilet and I was in for a suprise. The toilet seat was heated. The next day, my family and I went on a walk in the park. We stopped to go to the bathroom. The toilets there were completly different from the one in our apartment. These toilets were basicaly holes in the ground, and you had to squat if you wanted to pee in them. As you can see we are having some toilet trouble here. And if you think you know how to work the toilet in our apartment, tell me because we still haven't figured out how to turn off the heat on the toilet seat.

Vending Machines

In Tokyo you can never walk a block without seeing a vending machine. They're everywhere and they have almost every drink you can imagine in them. There are hot drinks and cold drinks, from iced green tea to coffee. The vending machines are great.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Hello. Hola. Konichiwa. I'm a fourth grade student at Washington International School who will be staying in Japan for the next five weeks. While I'm here I'll be blogging every day about what I'm doing and the things I see. This blog will be bilingual -- some entries will be in English and some in Spanish. I hope you like the pictures and writing you will see here!