Saturday, August 23, 2008


Snip, Snip

The kids were in daycare, I had six entire hours to myself, what is a mother to do?!?!?! I thought I'd see a movie, but the choices were dismal. I considered getting a pedicure, but I just don't have $80 to blow on my toes. After an hour of mindless wandering downtown, I took a deep breath and decided to get my hair cut. Getting a hair cut in Japan is almost as nerve wracking at going to the doctor in Japan. I have had too many bad experiences. There was the lopsided blunt cut bob. The bangs cut too deep job. Then there was the last time I went for short hair and I was happy until the very end when the stylist took out a pair of thinning shears and in a matter of seconds turned me into a walking pom pom. For awhile I visited a friend's stylist. He was good, but we had trouble communicating and once when I told him that the last time he had given me more layers than I like, he actually sulked. Now, I am aware that the relationship between a woman and her stylist is a complex one, but I get enough moping from my children at home. So, where to get the deed done? There seem to be two hair salons on every street corner in Japan; I have no idea how they all stay in business, it isn't by giving good haircuts. Bad hair runs rampant in this country and it feeds my fear. Add to this the fact that I don't actually do anything with my hair and you can see why I have lived with the long, straight, all one length, natural color coif I have been sporting for the last three years. But this year, the stifling humidity of the Japanese summer got the better of me and I just had to cut it off. I was downtown, in a posh shopping center, with a high percentage of foreign visitors, like maybe 3%? I was hoping I could get a good cut by someone who had some experience handling gaijin locks. I checked the prices at a salon I have had my eye on for years (it is visible from the bookstore, how could I miss it). The cut would cost me less than the pedicure. Luckily they had a stylist available, even luckier still, he seemed to be able to understand my Japanese. Particularly the "NO THINNING SHEERS!!!" part. Oh wait, that isn't Japanese, nevertheless, he got it! I got a cut I am happy with and I might even go back to him again. Next time, highlights?!?!?!?

Friday, August 01, 2008


Scenes From a Japanese Summer, Act II

We recently took a trip to the mountains. We were invited by Toshi's parents and I know I should be grateful to get out of town and not have to cook, however sometimes I just wonder if there isn't more to life than they enjoy. We leave the house, we eat lunch in the same exact restaurant every time, drive straight to one of the same four hotels and sit in our rooms "relaxing" until dinner. I know that these little trips are not for me, they are what my in-laws enjoy and they invite us along to spend time with the kids. I just wish sometimes we could DO SOMETHING, GO SOMEWHERE! For me, the point of a hotel is so you have somewhere to sleep when you visit somewhere far from home, for my in-laws, the point is the hotel. We were very close to Fujihighland Amusement Park which has "Thomasland." Sam would have loved that! We also passed an outlet shopping center. I stared at the shops longingly as we drove by, wishing I was part of a normal family and I could say, "Hey, let's pull over and check it out!" And someone would reply, "Okay!" Still, this time we did vary from the usual agenda slightly. We left early and had breakfast at the exact same restaurant as always instead of lunch! Ooooh, the excitement! We also stayed at a new (to me) hotel. We arrived and I was pleasantly surprised with the location. The Fuji View Hotel is situated on a small lake and boasts stunning views of Mt. Fuji. The grounds are quite extensive by Japanese standards and we did enjoy walking through the blooming hydrangea and fragrant wild mountain lilies. Okay, I have no idea if they were "wild mountain" lilies. The thing is, the only lilies I have ever seen have been in vases or potted, these were sprouting up from the earth, so huge and lovely that I took to calling them wild mountain lilies in my mind. However since this is Japan where very little is left to nature, I am certain they were exactly where they were supposed to be. There was also a nice rose garden, even if it was not at its peak. Since we had arrived early, we walked down to the lake and splashed our feet. Toshi's parents wanted to quickly return to the comfort of the hotel and I was dragging my splashed feet, thinking why did we come here if we aren't even going to spend anytime enjoying the lake?!?!?! We made it back to the hotel where we sat in the lobby until lunch was served. Yes, we SAT IN THE LOBBY. I was just beginning to wonder why we agree to these non-event trips, having a hard time concealing my discord with my in-laws idea of a vacation, when Mina asked me to take her to the Hot Spring Baths. We went down to the basement floor and I was thrilled to find that the two of us had the entire facility to ourselves! I LOVE it when that happens! We stripped, washed up and soaked our way to bliss. There were four different baths. One with thousands of bubbles shooting up from the floor, massaging your entire body as you try to balance yourself over them, another large bath with three powerful jets of water coming out of one wall, strategically placed to hit just the right spots on your back as you sit against them, a cold bath for after the sauna room and, the crown jewel, a rotenburo, an outdoor bath. We saved the best for last, the mountain air felt cool on our skin and as I sat back into the hot water, gazing at the garden that created a wall around the bath, complete with gorgeous wild mountain lilies, I said to myself, "THIS is why we do this." And I was happy. Unfortunately, we were only treated to a fleeting glimpse of the peak of Mt. Fuji when the clouds momentarily parted on the morning of our departure. One of the highlights of the trip for me was when Toshi pointed to an original drawing that was hanging by the elevator. John Lennon had stayed at the hotel! The drawing was of John and Yoko, their signatures and a sketch of Mt. Fuji with a question mark in the middle of it. Something tells me John Lennon didn't get such a good view of Fuji either.

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