Monday, August 20, 2007


We were intending to have a slow Sunday after our big day out Saturday, but Kanji told us on Saturday night that we were invited to a family camp at the lake nearby. We decided to go.

It's the same place we've been for the last two years with Lena's kindy group. Not really camping, but staying in a bungalow and having a barbecue. There were five families and a total of twelve pre-teen children. After a brief thunderstorm threatened to ruin our fun, we arrived at about 4pm. One Dad had already started the dinner. Instead of the ubiquitous yakiniku (thin slices of beef and pork dipped in sauce) he had a dutch oven and made a kind of casserole out of onions, potatoes and chicken, all pre-fried, then left to simmer in the oven. The potatoes were especially delicious! So nice to have a BBQ in Japan with no rice anywhere!

That Dad was a sweet-shop owner, so we were treated to some yummy cakes too. One other couple ran a sushi shop, so we got some excellent sushi. One other was a generic 'salaryman' (never did find out what kind, though he is in Kanji's young businessmens' club, so I guess he's a business owner of some sort). And finally our hairdresser and his wife and kids, who I used to teach.

The children of course just ran around and played games of their own devising while the parents ignored them and drank beer. I found some 0.1 alcohol beer, so I got to enjoy the taste of a nice cool beer on a hot summer afternoon, even if I was left just feeling tired. I chatted with the Mums, one of whom I knew quite well, the other a little bit. She, the mother of four, assured us all that the third and especially the fourth child were easy compared to one or two! That matches my theory, which is that two is easier than one. Mothers of one seem to be the busiest! Maybe because while the first one changes your life, subsequent babies just slot in. Plus they play with each other.

So the night wore on, chatting and drinking, with a brief interlude for fireworks. Getting the kids to sleep was every bit as hard as you can imagine! We did leave them until about 10:30, when the older, and more sensible ones were wanting to go to bed (Amy included - she knows her bedtime and pretty much likes to stick to it - she beats me to suggesting that we should have an early night tonight! But she was happy to stay up late playing). I had to lay with them and literally teach them how to select what noises, etc to respond to. "Keep your eyes closed...that's just the toilet door...ignore that...don't sit up every time someone comes into the room..." Of course, most adults can't get to sleep in those conditions, so you can't really expect kids to. Finally they went to sleep, the grown-ups continuted to drink, and me? I went home! It's only a 15 minute drive, and with my hips playing up lately, and the fear of being kicked, there was no way I was going to sleep in the middle of that melange of bodies!

I returned in the morning. Lena had slept through, Amy had woken several times though. Aparently one mother slept in her car, and three Dads where they were on the chairs around the barbecue, including ours.

The plan for the day was to go swimming in a river. I really wanted to go, because swimming just feels lovely, my body feels so light. And it's so refreshing. But it was a very long way, and we didn't leave until about 10. Kanji had to go to work, so we were on our own. The place was quite far, and was a shallow swimming hole by a concrete bridge and roadway. All the kids went in of course, but I was the only adult to brave it in my togs! I think everyone was more worried about me than the kids! It was a bit slippery, but I found sand paths between the rocks that were not.

We weren't there for long though when I dropped my camera in the water. It's sitting in front of me now, two days later, still refusing to move. I think it's dead. So guess what I'll be buying myself for my birthday this year? Hopefully the photos are okay - I have retreived the chip. Then I slipped, but saved myself. Then a thunderstorm started, just as the guys were firing up the barbie again. Since we were exposed, and the road in was very steep and dangerous when wet, we all quickly packed up and left!

We decided to have the barbecue back in town. I should have gone home at this point, but I thought Kanji might be able to make it for lunch, so I stayed. However he never did, and we ended up there until 4pm. 24hours was enough! We went home, then went out for ice cream and to the onsen to wind down before coming home and going straight to bed!

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