Friday, July 5, 2013

Japan 2013: Babies!

Momo & Aoi-chan
We all slept better last night, although I was up for about an hour around 3:00 am, wide-awake, so I did some of my ravalry stuff & then went back to sleep for a while.

Today's plan was to meet our friend Momo & her 16-month-old daughter Aoi-chan & go to visit some more friends who have a 2-month-old baby. I met Momo a few years ago when she was living in Rochester while her husband, Hiroshi, studied & received his PhD in electrical engineering at the U of R. Our Japanese teacher, Shizuka, had introduced us, & when we met neither of us spoke the other's language very well. This changed considerably when Momo started coming over every week- sometimes with Shizuka, sometimes on her own. I taught them to knit & crochet, & they taught me Japanese cooking. Momo & I did this for nearly 2 years before her husband, Hiroshi-kun, finished his degree & got a job back in Japan, 3 summers ago. I missed Momo so much when she moved home, but we have skyped pretty much every week since then, & we saw them 2 years ago on our last family trip to Japan. About 8 months after that visit, Momo had her baby, Aoi-chan! We resumed skyping when Aoi-chan was 2 months old, & it has been amazing to watch her grow up in weekly doses. Brendan & I made a quick, 10-day trip last summer (without Charlie, which was very hard!) to meet baby Aoi-chan, which was lovely :)
Heading into Shinjuku Station
On our last couple of visits Momo introduced us to her childhood friend, Hiroko-san, who did some sight-seeing with us. In Japan, the childhood friend (osana najimi) is a very special friend, almost like a sibling, & many stay close friends into adulthood. We've enjoyed getting to know Hiroko-san & her husband Daisuke-kun very much. Last summer Brendan & I spent a day with Hiroko-san & Dai-kun & visited their small shop in the Kagurazaka section of Tokyo. Their shop sells hand-made items & naturally-dyed clothes, so of course I really enjoyed seeing it! We also introduced them to the Mameshiba (Japanese cartoon characters) that I've been crocheting, & Dai-kun was particularly tickled by them, & by Brendan's Beanie, too :) Well... about 8 months after our visit with Hiroko-san & Dai-kun, they had a little baby boy! Nozomu-kun is not quite 2 months old & Hiroko is still adjusting to having a new baby around, but they were up for a visit & today was the day!

On the train to Sugamo
Momo's mom lives in the Sugamo section of Tokyo, so Momo (who lives in Atsugi-shi, on the very outskirts of Tokyo- about 2 hours from Shinjuku by train) decided to spend a couple nights in Tokyo with her mom, to make traveling with Aoi-chan easier. She came to our hotel this morning, Aoi-chan asleep in the baby-carrier, then we all went to Shinjuku Station to take the train to Hiroko & Dai's apartment.

Tanabata decorations in Sugamo
Although Hiroko-san was going to cook a nice lunch for us, we wanted to bring some food too, so we did some shopping when we changed trains. The rains started in pretty hard, so Momo thought it would be good to take a taxi from partway to their station (which is about 10 minutes walk from their apartment), so she called a taxi & then we raced to get a train to get there on time to meet the taxi. It was a good idea because the rain was really coming down.

Dai-kun met us outside their apartment building & welcomed us to his home. Hiroko-san was just finishing feeding Nozomu-kun, so he was very happy & content when we arrived :) It was just lovely to see them again with their new baby!

 Nozomu-kun with Dai-kun & Hiroko-san
Aoi-chan woke up quite completely when we got there, & she was definitely the life of the party! She's such a toddler- inquisitive, active, into everything, & adorably cute :) Hiroko-san & Dai-kun were also adorable with their little guy, who sat peacefully & watched the goings-on :)

While we all visited, Hiroko-san & Momo finished the lunch prep, & we all sat on the tatami to eat a smorgasbord lunch on the low table. It was the perfect height for Aoi-chan to toddle around & get into everything :) Momo fed her some baby food bentou, but she was much more interested in getting into our plates, trying to feed us (with the rice serving paddle at one point) & keeping us on our toes.

Momo feeding Aoi-chan
Aoi-chan feeding me
Dai-kun getting some experience with toddlers...
After eating we took turns keeping Aoi-chan occupied while we visited. It was lively & fun! Charlie had brought some finger puppets from home to play with Aoi-chan, so Brendan & Mr. Owl entertained her for a bit.

We had brought a few gifts, including a panda Mameshiba that I'd made for Nozomu-kun & some BabyShiba that I'd made from yarns I'd dyed with natural dyes for Dai-kun. At one point they all ended-up with sleeping Nozomu-kun.

At mid-afternoon we decided to leave the Yamaguchi family in peace, so Dai-kun walked us to the station & we took the train back to Sugamo with Momo. When we transferred from the Mita Line to the Yamanote Line, Momo pointed us in the right direction for our train back to Shinjuku & we spent 10 minutes or so getting back to Shinjuku Station, & then a bit longer finding our way to the right exit to where our hotel is. Shinjuku Station is big!!!

We got home around 3:00 pm. We had bought some food for dinner on the way home, so we got some drinks in the hotel shop & put everything in the mini-fridge. By 4:00 pm we were zonking out, so we closed the curtains & decided to take a little nap...

...& woke up at 9:00 pm!!! This is not the best way to deal with jet-lag, unfortunately. We blame it all on the babies...

Tomorrow we get to see Momo & Aoi-chan again!!!

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