Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lotus Flowers in Bloom

It has been fascinating watching local lotus fields transition from muddy winter swamps, to spring water gardens, to beautiful summer blooms.

White lotus flower
Pink lotus flower

The "lilipads" that we watched grow all spring were actually lotus, which produces "lotus root" which is used in lots of Asian cooking.  Water lilies are actually a completely different plant, easily distinguished by the seeds in the center of the plants.  (I apologize I could not get a photo above the flowers as the plants were so tall and planted in about a foot of water.)  I also did not know that these plants grew so high out of the water. They are not the surface-floating plants many of us imagine when we think of water gardens.

Here you see how big the plants actually grow...

From the water, they are around 6' tall right now. Here are a few photos of them a month ago...

Very first lotus blooms
Now the plant have taken over the isles making solid green fields of lilipads with scattered blooms. A beautiful marker of summer.




It will be sad to see them go, though we will enjoy the roots in some Japanese meals.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Festival

Our son recently participated in a "Summer Festival" for his Yochien.  He got to pick out his first kimono to wear for it, and learn some Japanese style dancing.  This was quite exciting for me as he had never previously been interested in dancing.  Interesting how it becomes fun in a group atmosphere; and by adding props. ;)

Here is our son waiting with his class for the program to begin...
The program was introduced by an adorable younger coed dance.  Then each of the older classes carried one of these handmade towers around the gym...
video

Then their was a girls dance, followed by a boys dance.  Here is a video and some photos from our son in the boys dance...
video



Our son is on the end facing the opposite side
Not perfect, but I am still fascinated, especially considering he still doesn't really understand Japanese. ;)

You may notice the boys are wearing two different types of kimonos, one piece (yukata) and two piece (jinbei) which are only for kids up to 130 cm.  The yukata is more traditional.  Kimonos must always be wrapped left over right, unless for a funeral, the right over left.

The program finished with parent/child dances.  I got to learn a fun Japanese dance with my son.  Unfortunately it did not get video-taped because it was too hard for "Daddy" to watch our daughter at the same time.  He did get a photo when the dance ended...
After the program, the kids got masks, inflatable swords, and treat bags to take home.  (Our daughter got a mask too, "Hello Kitty".)

We are very thankful our son got to participate in this activity, especially as we are debating on whether to keep him in Yochien until first grade, or start him in base Kindergarten in the fall.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day USA!

For those of you in the US wondering if the 4th of July is celebrated outside the country, well yes, it isn't forgotten at any of the US bases.  Unfortunately we didn't get to see any fireworks because of the summer rains, though we did join in on a fun "Bikes and Trikes Parade".  Here's the kids having fun...


And a video of them in action, for those of you who are able to view it...

video
And some more pictures from the event...






This was all arranged by military mothers, including a brief talk on the meaning of Independence Day, a beautiful singing of the national anthem, some muffins, drinks, and patriotic colored cupcakes.

If you are an American citizen, we wish you a wonderful 4th of July as well!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Okinawa Trip

My husband got back from working a month abroad, and a few days later got vacation time! A wonderful thing about being stationed here is that there are multiple beautiful tropical US bases which we can fly to for free on a "space available" basis on military planes traveling there. We were hoping to go to Guam, but the flight was cancelled due to the minor typhoon which came our way. Though we missed out on a few days of intended play, luckily, a few days later, we made it on a C-130 to Okinawa...




Yes, for anyone who has not travelled on something like this, it is LOUD! Hence the ear protection.





When we got to Okinawa, they were recovering from another typhoon, but except for strong winds and some rain, it was beautiful!

Hmmm, not so fond of the wind...

Luckily after that we got a couple wonderful days of weather for some irreplaceable memories...

We rented 2 stand-up-paddle boards, for our daughter's first time ever, and family's first time all together.

After the paddling...

And on to another beach for after naptime...

I swam over and explored the other islands a little. My husband swam to the reef in the middle. You can see him standing on it above.

And here's a place we checked out for surfing... Though couldn't find boards to rent.
A wonderful quick trip, and right back to work and school the next AM.