Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our Trip to Tokyo Part I: Tokyo Disney Sea

Konnichiwa, Tyson, Audrey, Charlotte, and Christine!

As you might have already guessed it, we love theme parks and we love Disney! We are very lucky to have Tokyo Disney Resort with Disneyland and Disney Sea in Japan! We try to go visit at least once every year.

We usually take the night bus when we go to Tokyo Disney Resort. We leave Kobe/Osaka at night, and we arrive at Disney Resort in the morning! It is very exhausting actually, but it is very convenient and affordable!

This is the night view of Umeda in Osaka. Osaka is the second biggest city in Japan, and it is known for its unique culture and people. People generally say people from Osaka are a lot more friendly and down-to-earth as compared to people from Tokyo.

The bus terminal is located at Umeda Sky Building, which is a popular observatory building. We have never been there, though, because it is rather expensive, and there is always a very long line and we need to wait for hours to go up there!

This is the bus terminal.. Many people use the night bus!

We are ready for Tokyo! We left Osaka at 9:30pm and arrived at Tokyo Disney Resort at 6:30am!

This summer, we visited Disney Sea.

"Pirates Summer" was their theme this summer!

Duffy the Disney Bear is at Disney Sea! Duffy is a teddy bear that Minnie Mouse made for Mickey Mouse while he was away on a voyage to travel the world. This teddy bear was named Duffy, because Minnie put him in a duffel bag when she gave him to Mickey.

Duffy felt alone, seeing Mickey has Minnie but he did not have anyone, so Minnie made him a new friend, Shelly May (the pink teddy bear on the right). In one of his voyages with Mickey, Duffy also made a friend, Gelatoni (a cat on the left).

We thought it was kind of fun that Tag got to meet another teddy bear!

And, on March of this year, Duffy made yet another new friend, Stella Lou!

Many people enjoy dressing up their Duffy, Shelly May, Gelatoni, and Stella Lou in cute outfits, and they bring them to Tokyo Disney Sea. Yuki actually has his own Duffy, too! We thought about sending Duffy to you guys for the teddy bear exchange, but Moppy said he really wanted to travel to the US, so we decided to send him instead!

Yuki loves the summer water shows at Disney Resort! He enjoys getting wet!

Can you tell he got really wet after the show?

They have a new attraction called Nemo & Friends Sea Rider, which opened on May of this year! We finally got to ride it!

They also have this fun activity called the Leonardo Challenge at Tokyo Disney Sea. You are given a map with directions, and you try to get to the goal as you solve each clue.

If you solve all the clues and get to the goal, you can be a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers!

You can also learn about things Leonardo Da Vinci discovered as you solve the clues. We thought about you guys as we tried this challenge. We think you'd love it!

And Yuki's mom's favorite, Mermaid Lagoon...

It looks even prettier at night!

We really enjoyed our time at Disney Sea!

We often think that we have been to Tokyo a lot, because we have been to Tokyo Disney Resort a lot. But apparently, Tokyo Disney Resort is not actually located in Tokyo. It is in Chiba Prefecture, right next to Tokyo. So, this time, we decided to also go visit the actual Tokyo on our second day of this trip. We will write about it in our next post!

Our Trip to Hiroshima Part II: Atomic Bomb Dome

Konnichiwa, Tyson, Audrey, Charlotte, and Christine!

On our second day in Hiroshima, we visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. At Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, there are many monuments and museums to commemorate victims of the nuclear bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima during World War II. Among that is Atomic Bomb Dome.

This is the Atomic Bomb Dome. At 8:15am on August 6th, 1945 during World War II, the nuclear bomb was dropped and exploded 600 m (2,000 ft) almost directly above this dome.

0.2 seconds after the explosion of the bomb, the heart rays from the blast covered the area, and they were a few thousand times stronger than the sun light. The temperature of the ground reached 2,000 C (3,632 F). 0.8 seconds after the explosion of the bomb, the dome was destroyed as you see in those photos.

The area within the radius of 2 km (1.243 miles) turned into ashes. The only reason this dome retained its form was because the bomb exploded almost right above it.

With this single bomb, the lives of over 200,000 people were lost and many suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.

This monument is dedicated to children who lost their lives to the nuclear bomb. The girl on top of the monument is a little girl who passed away from the radiation of the bomb. She folded 1,000 paper cranes, believing she would be cured if she did. (In Japan, we believe that if we fold 1,000 paper cranes, then it can cure diseases, because cranes are the symbol of good luck since they live for many years.)

There is also Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in this park. However, we have been told we have to mentally prepare ourselves before entering this museum, because it really shows the horrific damage caused by a nuclear bomb.... It is very important to know what went on in wars and the damages caused by a nuclear bomb so that we really understand the horrible reality of wars and learn from the mistakes we have made in the past, but we felt that we were not ready to face it yet at this time, so we did not go inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. But someday, we will...

In order to write this blog post, Yuki's mom tried to read a bit more about this nuclear bombing in Hiroshima, but just reading even a bit was too much to bear. She could not keep reading even in an effort to tell you guys about it...

In late 19th century and in early 20th century, Japan was invading other countries. Japan was attacking those countries viciously and doing many horrible things to their people. There were other countries in Europe doing the same at the time, and Japan formed an alliance with them. However, even after those countries Japan formed an alliance with surrendered, Japan refused to stop and kept fighting. In order to stop it, the nuclear bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki in 1945. By losing so many lives all at once by such a horrific way and having so many people suffer fatal injuries, Japan finally learned how wars hurt people.

After World War II, Japan implemented a new Constitution, which was drafted by the US. It includes Article 9, which states that Japan will not go into wars with other countries and will not have armed forces to fight with other countries.

Yuki's mom remembers feeling very proud that Japan is now a very peaceful country when she learned about Article 9 in school. However, some people question the validity of self-armed forces in Japan with Article 9 while others call for the complete revision of Article 9 so Japan can go into wars with other countries when it is necessary. (To our knowledge, Japan's self-armed forces serve people within the country in times of disasters and also provide people in war zones in other countries with resources such as food and water without actually being involved in the act of war.)

This past Tuesday morning, North Korea shot a missile that passed over Japan and dropped into the ocean very close to Japanese shores. This incident stirred a big debate over Article 9 yet again. We sure hope we can remain to be a peaceful country...

But at the same time, because we live in a very peaceful country, we often forget that there are countries in this world that are at wars right now and that there are people who live everyday fearing for their and their loved ones' lives...

There are just so many thoughts and feelings that cannot be put into words, so we will end this blog right here... We hope and pray that the world will be a peaceful place someday soon...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bicycling on the Capital Trail

We're very fortunate here in Richmond, Virginia, to have a lot of options for fun outdoor activities! One of those activities that our family has been wanting to try for awhile is the Virginia Capital Trail. The VCT is 50 miles (80 km) long and goes all the way from Williamsburg to Richmond! It's called the Virginia "Captial" Trail because Richmond is the state capital of Virginia. Every state in the U.S. has a capital, which is where the government for that state is located.

The VCT is designed specifically for bicycles, although people can also jog and walk on it as well. It's a nice trail to use because it is safe- you don't have to worry about riding your bike on a busy road- and it's paved and has beautiful scenery as well.

Here is Moppy giving it a go on my bike. I think she's getting the hang of it! 

Here are Audrey, Charlotte, Moppy, and Tyson on one of the trail's bridges. We ended up riding about 10 miles (16 km) as a family- we went about 5 miles (8 km) from where we'd parked, then turned around and did the 5 miles back to where we parked. Where we parked was about 10 miles (16 km) outside of the city of Richmond. If we wanted to, we could ride the trail all the way into the city of Richmond- or if we rode the other direction we could get all the way to the town of Williamsburg- but 40 miles (64 km) was a bit far for our little family. :-) 

Here's Dad and Christine catching up with us. Christine is an excellent bike rider, but she's so much smaller than the rest of us it takes her a bit longer. She did such a great job! 

After our biking adventure we had lunch and then played on the playground at the park where we'd picked up the trail, Dorey Park.

Tyson and Moppy had fun on this climbing wall.

Audrey decided to push Moppy on the swing.

It didn't go so well- Moppy kind of crashed, but she was okay. Just a little bit mulch-y.

Charlotte was kind enough to get her all cleaned up. Charlotte knows what it's like to crash- see those bandages on her fingers and elbow? She had a pretty nasty crash on her bike while we were on the trail. Fortunately, we always come prepared, and we used our first-aid kit to patch her up so we could keep going. She was very brave! (Our family rarely has a bike trip where someone doesn't crash!)

Here's Moppy checking out the pretty lake and these two lake residents- ducks!

Tyson and Christine took Moppy over to get a closer look at the ducks.

Such a pretty lake!

I think the ducks liked us.

On the way home we crossed a big bridge.

That's the James River, which is actually another way to get from Richmond to Williamsburg, because it goes the whole way! Many people go kayaking and canoeing on this river.

Moppy was having so much fun checking out all the sights that we gave her the best seat in the van!

We hope you enjoyed seeing a little bit more about Richmond. 

Did you know that this week is our last week before school starts on September 5th? Yikes! Soon it will be time for Moppy and Tag to go home. We sure will miss this sweet little monster! But we'll be sure to do a few more fun things with her before she heads home.

Do you ever go biking in Japan?

Thursday, August 24, 2017


On Monday, August 21st, we had the rare opportunity here in the U.S. to see a solar eclipse. Because of where we live, we only got a partial solar eclipse- other areas to the west and south of us got to experience a full eclipse, but we weren't up to traveling 5-6 hours to see the full effect. So instead, we just watched it from our own backyard. It didn't get totally dark, but it definitely got dimmer, and everything took on a weird tint.
Fortunately, we did have some special solar eclipse glasses so we were able to view the partial eclipse, and we also saw another neat phenomenon called the "pinhole effect."

We first noticed it on our deck- normally, these shadows look like any shadows you'd see when the sunlight shines through the leaves on a tree. But due to the solar eclipse, every place the sun shined through was a bright crescent shape.

We could see it really clearly on our living room carpet (which was a bit messy because we kept going in and out of the house to see the progress of the eclipse!)

And on our driveway. 

I thought the effect on the paint on my husband's old car was really cool. It reminded me of billowing smoke.

Because I'd heard this called the "pinhole effect," I decided I wanted to see what would happen if I actually put a pinhole in a sheet of paper and let the sun shine through it.

See that tiny bright crescent shape that looks kind of like a fingernail? That's the sun in the midst of a solar eclipse! That's what came through the pinhole I'd made in the paper.

We made sure to be extra safe while watching the eclipse- everyone had their own pair of eclipse glasses, and since the glasses are designed for adults- not kids- we fitted the girls' glasses with some extra protection in the form of paper plates. Safety first!

Have you ever experienced a solar eclipse? The next one will be coming to the U.S. in 2024, and we're already excited for it!