Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tiffany's Farewell Party-yakatabune style!

On July 11th we took to the waters of Tokyo. It was time for my farewell party. Months ago I had booked a yakatabune cruise. Yakatabune is Japanese, flat bottomed river boat. It's used for sight seeing. This yakatabune included a 10 course Japanese dinner and all you can drink. Oh, did I mention it had karaoke too?

Left to right: Me, Tomoe, Asa and Melissa.

The ironic part, was that no one had done yakatabune before. I had gone twice before. But none of my Japanese friends had.

Our boat had a long table down the middle. They were just starting to cue up the karaoke machine.

What I love about karaoke in Japan is that it is a group effort.

How can you feel embarassed about your singing voice when you are in a choir of 21 people?

Here's our group photo after the cruise. All 21 of us met through Matsumura kindergarten. I never knew that enrolling Mia in a Japanese kindergarten would be such a life enriching experience.

Matsumura Youchien, Arigato goziamashita!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sayonara to Sayaka Sensei, Mia's Japanese teacher

Today Mia had her last Japanese lesson with Sayaka sensei. Sayaka has been Mia's Japanese teacher for two years now.

Mia and Rhett always look forward to seeing Sayaka. She always brings a science experiment for them to do at the end of class. It usually deals with the science of sticking sugary candy onto a stick, and then eating it.

Mia and Rhett didn't want Sayaka to leave. They clung on to her for dear life.

I just know that we will see Sayaka again. I'm hoping that she comes to stay with us in Seattle while on vacation. Or, even better yet, maybe she will get a job teaching Japanese in Seattle. Fingers crossed. Arigato Goziamasu! Jaa ne...

Kidzania Mania!

Today we went to Kidzania. Kidzania is an indoor city where kids do role-playing activities in a realistic setting. Kids choose from over 70 different jobs to do.

To get started, kids go to the bank to open an account. Kids get paid for the jobs that they do.

Mia & her friend Alex started off with being magicians.

Then it was off to the laboratory to be a microbiologist.

She had to report the findings of her research to her peers. Just like real academia.

Then she and her friend Claire drove the fire engine to the conflagration.

Hanging out with the Kidzania mascots...

The firefighters used real hoses with water to put out the house fire.

Mia & Claire joined a dance team to put on a show.

Mia also was a fashion designer. Here she is with her creation.

She was also a graphic artist.

We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves today. Mia was in heaven.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mia's Violin Recital

What an exciting day. Today Mia had her first violin recital. Her teacher, Ichikawa sensei, organized it in her honor. It was called "Mia's Farewell Recital". Mia was the first to play. She played "Long, long ago, baby" and "Butterfly". She played wonderfully.

A group of students then played "Twinkle Twinkle" together. The youngest violinist was a mere three years old!

Ichikawa sensei did a solo. Her music was so moving that it brought tears to my eyes. I never knew I was such a lover of violin music.

Ichikawa sensei and her students. Mia will really miss her teacher. Ichikawa san used to play for the Vienna Symphony.

Afterwards we went to get cake and drinks to celebrate. Mia's best friend, Mayu-chan joined us.

Thank you Ichikawa sensei for opening up the world of music for our daughter.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gold Medal Winners!

Today was the annual soccer tournament in Tokyo for kids under 7. Here's Mia and her buddy Soma-kun giving each other high fives before the match.

Mia and Soma were led into the enormous sports stadium by their coach. There were around 100 participants in the tournament. Mia stood out from the crowd on two accounts: 1) she was the only girl there and 2) the only non-Japanese kid there.

A pre-game huddle.

We went to the tourney with Soma's family, which we met through Mia's school. From left to right: Chiori, Mia, baby Takuya, Soma, Paul and Rhett.

Mia's team played about twelve mini games, with breaks in between. Each game lasted 10 minutes. They played off and on from 9am till 1pm. Luckily, it was a cloudy day. Even so, it was still hot and humid nonetheless.

Believe it or not, Mia's team won the tournament! They won by making one more goal than the 2nd place team. We couldn't believe it! Here's the winning team...

Mia showing off her gold medal with her coach.

What a banner day. Mia kept telling me that her team was going to win the gold medal. Little did I know, she was right!

Jinnan Open House

Last Saturday Mia's elementary school had an open house. The kids had a regular school day schedule. Prospective students and parents were invited to view. Here's her teacher Ayuzawa sensei.

It was such a joy to see Mia in class. She raised her hand, answered questions, and participated fully .

I love this picture. The two kids sitting behind her are good friends of hers, Rei-kun and Maiah-chan.

Her class has 36 students. They all sit in their chairs, and behave. Only in Japan.

I also enjoyed watching Mia do her writing assignment.

Mia and her neighbor Masanobu, rehearsing a dialogue. Masanobu and Mia met on their soccer team. Little did we know they would be in 1st grade together.

I know that I would be proud to see Mia in any school, but to see her fully engaged in her Japanese school totally blew me away. It brought tears to my eyes and made me smile from ear to ear. I remember her first day of Japanese school. I picked her up and she was white as a sheet and feeling pretty downhearted. My how things have changed!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Japanese teachers

Since we are leaving Tokyo in less than a month, the sayonara parties have already begun.

Here are two of my absolute favorite people in Japan. My Japanese teachers. On the left is Imai-san and on the right is Kumazaki-san. Fittingly, we went to lunch at a Japanese restaurant.

These women have been ever so patient with the likes of me. I came here completely clueless and totally inept at Japanese... they slowly taught me the basics. Hiragana, katakana, a little kanji, lots of grammar, and lots of vocabulary. We've been together for over two years now. This sounds corny, but they are the closest thing I'll ever get to having a Japanese mom.

Thanks for all your hard work! Otsukare sama deshita! Domo arigato gozaimashita!