With a sense of exaggeration, we could say that our little one takes the biggest ‘bite’ out of our household budget. Why is that so? Going to the supermarket in Japan is in general more expensive (than in Belgium), but what will baffle you in specific is the price of fruit. Not only a mango or a papaya will set you back hundreds of yens, also more common fruit like bananas, apples or oranges can’t be bought at a reasonable price. We’re talking EUR 3 a peach! Providing afternoon fruit to our son suddenly becomes an act of generosity. Therefore, Japanese children don’t get to eat a lot of fruit. It comes in tiny portions, intended as a snack or desert, or in the form of jelly.
mango (over EUR 20!)
It makes fruit almost a luxury product and a fruit baskets the ideal present. These gift fruits play in a higher league; not only do they taste delicious, they also have the perfect size and shape and come in special wrappings. Needless to say that prices can go to the roof! (Check out this crazy article)
Destination Ise! It was suggested to us by our Japanese friends, who joined us on the road trip. In Ise you find the largest sacred shrine of Japan and it was even more busy than we had expected. Religion definitely is not dead: we spotted both old and young, traditional and ‘hip’, people dressed in kimono and in goth clothing (how weird is that?).
The Ise area gained even more popularity after the G7 Summit of 2016. You can see pictures of Prime Minister Abe with Obama, Hollande, Merkel,…anywhere!
Blokken, blokken, blokken! Dat is vaak het adagium als het gaat over het leren van het Japans. Waarom? De taal heeft geen enkel referentiepunt met Europese talen en bestaat uit maar liefst drie soorten schriften; het hiragana voor Japanse woorden, het katakana voor buitenlandse woorden (beide lettergrepenschriften) en daarnaast ook nog meer dan 50.000 symbolen (de kanji). De drie schriften worden zelfs gecombineerd binnen één zin of zelfs binnen een woord.
Last Saturday we took it easy (Friday we partied;-)), but on Sunday we went to Korankei. It’s a beautiful valley in Toyota where people gather to barbecue and seek refreshment in the water. It was still very hot so we bathed in the river and had noodles from a bamboo slide for lunch.
Returning from Korankei, we passed near a karting circuit and of course the boys went for a ride on the track.
On the next Friday we welcomed Lisa to our home. Her parents were off to climb Mount Fuji. The next day we went barbecuing with colleagues. Stan took lots of Belgium trappist beers for them to enjoy. Some of them might have enjoyed them a little too much :-). (The alcohol percentage is high and the bottles were emptied really quickly). The location was great and so were the people!
After that we went to a rugby game in the Toyota Stadium. Next year this prefecture will be hosting the World Cup Rugby and I guess they want to promote it. Unfortunately they lost big time.
At night we both bought running shoes. Shops are open untill 8PM (or later), even on Sundays. We’ll probably miss this convenience when we go back home.
On Sunday we were invited to a friend’s house for lunch. I’ve always been curious to know how the Japanese live, eat, receive guests, interact… so I was very happy with this invitation. We made sure we brought enough gifts. The Belgian beers -again- were a big success!
After catching up with our families back home, we went for a run in our new shoes; the perfect ending of a lovely weekend!
Typhoon Jebi (categorised as very strong) reached Japan today. Daycare was closed, Japanese class and other activities were cancelled, Stan’s boss recommended to take the afternoon off (but he didn’t), trains were cancelled and so on. To go short: we were locked-in for the day. Luckily we only had to endure strong winds and heavy rains.
About 100km to the west, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe were hit hard. Once again in a short period of time (remember the flooding and the heat wave?), Japan is hit with disaster.
Noises all over today: the typhoon siren, police cars, the wind whistling. Half an hour ago an alarm on our phones went off to draw our attention to a governmental warning of landslides near us…. Currently there is a thunderstorm spectacle going on.
What a commotion! Belgian media contacted us, but our area was safe (so no minute of fame on radio or tv:)). The upside is that we also got contacted by many of our friends and family and it was nice to hear from them.
Don’t be too surprised when the expiry date on your food says year 30. Don’t keep it until 2030 though, in Japan it currently is Heisei 30. That means it’s 30 years into emperor’s Akihito’s reign. Japan is the only country in the world that still uses the imperial calendar, mostly on governmental documents, newspapers and commercial calendars.
This is soon about to end. In May of next year, the abdication of the emperor is planned in favour of crown prince Naruhito. This will literally and figuratively be ‘the end of an era’. (Nowadays an era ends with the abdication. In the past emperors also initiated new eras during their reign as a ‘tabula rasa’ after a crisis or disaster.)
Experts are busy deciding on a new era name. Exciting times!