Sunday, November 9, 2014

'the coolest day EVER!' -ike

Sometimes getting our kids to head out to explore Japan is like pulling teeth!   they always have fun once we are out and about- but getting them there is usually a hassle.  I'm not sure if it's the drive- or just the age of our kiddos- but it drives me bonkers!    going to the limestone caves was no different.  lots of moans and groans. until we walked into the cave! and then Ike exclaimed: "this is the coolest day EVER'!

The drive to the caves was CRAZY.  Our favorite part of Japan so far is a little mountain town called 'Ome'.  the mountains are stunning.  the river is beautiful.  we love everything about it!  Kent and I decided we are not 'big city' people.  we love tokyo- and the cities surrounding it- but we really love the mountains.  no traffic, way less stress, and more space!

we drove through Ome and then alongside a VERY steep mountain to get to the caves! once we got onto the mountain- the roads were all single lane and literally clung to the side!  they were windy and pretty skinny.  there are large convex mirrors on every sharp corner that show any approaching traffic and there were several spots where we had to reverse and find little nooks and crannies to let oncoming traffic by! it was crazy. but so beautiful.

the caves are limestone and really big.  Basically a little kid's dream.  we walked in to the side of a mountain and got to explore all we wanted!

 it was a semi warm day- but the caves were pretty chilly so we all had our jackets!

 there aren't any maps- so we just let the boys choose which paths to take and where to go!  they thought that was pretty great.

 there were a lot of small tunnels and really steep staircase and ladders to climb- but there was one HUGE open area.  it was really big and really cool.

 the further you get into the mountains and away from the big cities- the less english you find!   the far left sign says 'exit'.   it was the most important sign to follow once you get deep into the caves!
 there were a few spots that were REALLY steep.  the stairs go up and up and eventually turned into ladders in a few spots!  it was a tight squeeze for my preggo belly and my legs were even a little sore the following day from the climbing!

 once outside- metta had to use the bathroom and this was her face when all we could find were squatter hole toilets.  I had to hold her over the hole so she could pee!

after the caves- we checked out the accompanying shrine.  I read that there are more shrines and temples in Japan than there are homes!  and that doesn't surprise me.  Every where we go- there are shrines and temples.  Big, small, ornate, colorful, miniature, wooden, etc.  they are ubiquitous.  shrines are dedicated to the Shinto religion and the temples are Buddhist. Japan has intertwined the two religions so temples and shrines are often found together.
this is a teeny shrine we saw inside the caves.
this cool looking spider is EVERYwhere in Japan.  they are pretty big and spin elaborately huge webs!  we are a bug and spider loving family so think they are pretty neat-o.

this is one of the small towns we drove through to get to the caves.  we stopped and had a snack here and took some pictures.  all of these house are literally built into the mountainside.
mountain and landslides are a pretty serious concern for much of Japan.  with only 30% of land being habitable- and the population being so dense- they build wherever they can.

 we made a few more stops along the way home to explore some sights on the side of the road! like this rickety bridge.  It connected to a big rock wall with lots of climbers!

 the river below was beautiful.
 and our loast stop heading back home was in ome again for some snacks and to check out the shops!

 we had ramen and gyoza for lunch and some yummy little donuts for a treat!  and the kids continued wearing themselves out!  I think we all sleep very soundly here thanks to the walking and hiking and exploring we do!

catching up on adventures...

I have a few adventures that never got blogged thanks to baby mack!  my plan was to blog the week after he was born while we recovered.  Turns out I couldn't do much of anything that week -  and then I got better and didn't want to sit in my house any longer!

So- this adventure was Kent's birthday adventure!  oct 10,11, and 12. 

The Air Force gained possession of an old Japanese WWII ammunitions property and has turned it into "Tama Hills"- a recreation facility for military members.  The perks in Japan for military members are pretty fabulous.  There is SO much for us to do.  

Several families from our church rented cabins and spent the weekend having fun!
the cabins were pretty great!  hot tubs, fire pits, hiking trails, etc.  We had s'mores every night and smelled like campfire!  but we still had the luxury of beds and toilets!  I was 39 weeks pregnant and was happy that I didn't end up having a baby in the woods :) 

the kids loved it.  mostly because they got to stay out late with friends and eat pringles for breakfast!

the whole area was beautiful.  and the weather was PERFECT.
there are strange old war structures and buildings all over the property that are pretty cool!

the boys' very favorite part of the whole adventure was the golf carts!  we got to drive golf carts all over the place to get around.   It was pretty fun.

they even had a mini golf course.  There was so much to do.
playing mini golf with little kids is such a joke.

here are most of the kids from the weekend.  Our building on base houses four families with a total of 14 kids!  all of them were here.  plus our two back yard neighbors with their 8 kiddos! and a couple more families.  We live in KID heaven.
they also have horseback riding at Tama Hills.  Our little cowboys and girl loved it.  I just love the pictures of them in their hats!!
metta refused to return this pink hat.  we had to pry it from her shrieking hands.

We bought kent a 24 pack of Guarana for his birthday.  They sell it at Costco!?  The Japanese love it, I guess.  Kent was pretty happy about it.  It turns out Ike also loves Guarana.

I love Zeb's cat shirt.  we got it at H&M here.  Kent thinks it's weird.  We asked Zeb if anybody at school said anything about it and he told us: "they all laughed at it, but I laughed with them".  He's so cute and such a good boy.
Ike was really nervous to get on the horse- but I think he ended up having fun.
I LOVE this picture.  we were walking through the stables and a horse happened to sneeze (or something strange) loudly just as we walked passed and she FREAKED out.  It scared her so badly.  I couldn't help but laugh and take a picture!!
we spent an afternoon exploring the grounds and checking out the cool war bunkers!  they made the kids nervous.  they were the perfect scary buildings!!

Japan is SO tightly packed and it is pretty rare to find any open space unless you drive up into the mountains.  You can drive for miles and miles and miles and see almost no 'free' space. It's just squished house after house after house!  but Tama Hills is an Oasis amongst the concrete!  it's pretty cool.

metta and I doing sad faces.  I can't remember why she was sad!

she makes the best faces.
they also had archery.  it was tough beans!

I love that my kiddos have so much to explore here in Japan!  everything is adventurous and I'm so glad my kids are having these opportunities.