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Surviving a visit from your Mother and Mother-in-law


You’re in panic mode! You just found out that your Mother and Mother-in-law are visiting… at the same time!! What do you do?!? First off, stop hyper-ventilating, that’s only going to help you pass out. Next, follow my two easy steps on how to survive this situation or rather, how to avoid it in the first place:

STEP 1: Be lucky enough to have a Mom who is fun, easy-going, silly and who you enjoy hanging out with.

STEP 2: Be lucky enough to have a Mother-in-law who is also fun, easy-going, silly and who you enjoy hanging out with!

As for me, I have somehow managed to luck out in having both a wonderful Mother and Mother-in-law, AND it just so happens that the two of them get along famously. Jealous? You should be. 😉

Back in May my Mom (Judy) and Mother-in-law (Janice), Judy and Janice — I just LOVE the alliteration there, took some time out of their busy lives to visit their kids in Japan. They had two weeks to explore the country, and explore THEY DID! The Mums were troopers (13-hour jet-lag is no joke)! The first day after their arrival the Mums and I were out immersing ourselves in the local scene. We took the train to Machida and wandered the streets, drifting in and out of stores, pointing out all the little oddities that make Japan so unique. Of course a tour of Japan wouldn’t be complete without culinary journey, so, day one, RAMEN, my FAVORITE!!

The next day the Mums, Mike and I set off to Yokohama in search of adventure! They saw the largest Chinatown in Japan, yes, your heard me right, CHINAtown in JAPAN… Weird, I know. Not only did we ride the ferris wheel at Cosmo World, but also the LOG RIDE!!! Are our Mums cool or what?!? It was a blast! Culinary journey day 2, burgers!! Kua’Aina is a Hawaiian burger chain restaurant with locations in Japan, Hawaii and London and if you ever find yourself near one, do yourself a favor and get a burger! Their burgers are amazing!! My mouth is actually watering as I’m typing this…

Mike and Janice on the Ferris wheel in Yokohama
Mike and Janice on the Ferris wheel in Yokohama
Janice, Judy and I on the Log Ride
Our reflection on a building in Yokohama

Kamakura was next on our list of sites to see! The Mums and I hopped in the car and headed towards the coast! We visited a couple of temples, talked with some Japanese kids who were practicing their English, hung out with the big buddah, and the Mums also got to step foot in the eastern side of the Pacific ocean! What trip to anywhere would be complete without some ah-i-su-ku-ri-mu, pronounced ‘ah-ee-su-ka-ree-mu’ (I tried to type it in Katakana, but WP doesn’t seem to want to support those characters… Booo.)?!? Can you guess what that is? Sound it out… 😉 Culinary journey day 3, Yaki-niku! That evening we met up with our friends Aaron and Yuki and the Mums got to experience an evening of Yaki-niku (grilled meat and veggies that you cook yourself)!

Kamakura Buddha
Judy, Janice and some Japanese school children
Kamakura temple
Judy in the eastern side of the Pacific

The next day was somewhat lazy. The Mums started off the day at the airfield on Camp Zama, watching Mike take off in the UH-60. Then they got a personal tour, courtesy of Aaron, of his Japanese abode. Next, we were off to experience Japanese-style plaza shopping (which is pretty much the same as back in the states). Boringggg — but, I needed some shorts!! Then it was back to Camp Zama for their personal tour of a UH-60! That evening, we headed over to Ebina for dinner. Culinary journey day 4, Tapas, Japanese-style! We feasted on tapas-style meal consisting of things such as crab pizza (my favorite), gioza (small dumplings), potato salad, etc. It was a delightful smörgåsbord!

The following day the four of us set course for the Izu Peninsula! It was the perfect day for waterfalls, rocky shorelines and a chairlift ride up a volcano! We visited Joren Waterfall, Kawazu Nanadaru (Seven Falls of Kawazu), the Jogasaki coastline (these seaside cliffs are similar to those in Acadia National Park) and lastly, Omuro-yama (a 200-year-old volcano). Culinary journey day 5, Japalian! We ended the day with a little Japalian (Japanese/Italian — it’s not Japanese and it ain’t Italian, it’s Japalian!) meal in Ito. Totemo buono! Now there’s some Japalian for ya!

Joren Falls
Judy hiking through Kawazu Nanadaru
Jude admiring the views at Jogasaki
Jan and Mike walking atop Mt. Omuro

Moving on… A trip to Japan isn’t complete unless you see some of Tokyo! You could honestly be here for a year and not see all of Tokyo… Well, that’s my opinion anyway. In Tokyo we visited the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower and some random temple of which the name has escaped me. The best part of the day, for me anyway, was dinner at my FAVORITE ramen place, Nishiazabu Gogoyo (or as we call it, Burnt Ramen)! It’s so awesome that it has been featured in a New York Times article! I seriously can’t even begin to tell you how DELICIOUS the ramen and gioza is here!! It may be what I’ll miss most about this country when we leave! I swear Ramen wasn’t the only Japanese food we indulged in, although it’s my favorite! Have I mentioned that Ramen is my favorite?!? OK! I’m done! Anyway, the next evening we brought the Mums to our local sushi-go-round restaurant, and really, it’s more like sashimi-go-round here, although they do have some sushi options too. I’m happy to report that the Mums were pretty adventurous in their choices of plates! 🙂 Culinary journey day 6 and 7, more RAMEN (you can never have enough) and sashimi/sushi!!

Imperial Palace, Tokyo
Mike walking through a ‘lost children’ memorial in Tokyo
Tokyo Tower

We got up (fairly) bright and early on Monday, packed up the rental van and headed south to Kyoto! It’s about a 6 hour drive, mostly highway and not too much traffic, which was nice! We all enjoyed views of the southern alps peeking through the clouds as we passed by on the Chuo Expressway. We had three whirlwind days in Kyoto! We visited Kinkaku-ju (Golden Pavilion), Fushimi Inari-taisha (the Tori gates path), and Arashiyama (the bamboo forest), just to name a few. We also meandered in and out of little shops, shrines and eateries. On our way home we stopped in Otsu for a bite to eat and enjoyed views of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in all of Japan. While walking along the shores of the lake, an older Japanese man started up a conversation with us and informed us of a large castle not too far from where we were. Heeding the old man’s advice, we added a stop at Hikone Castle to our agenda and it was WELL worth it! It was a jam-packed trip to Kyoto and we had a blast! Culinary journey day 8 and 9… ummm… whatever we could order and eat! Our motto is, “if they have a picture menu, we can eat there!”

Kinkaku-ju (Golden Pavilion), Kyoto
Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest), Kyoto
Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto
Lake Biwa, Otsu
Hikone Castle

We finished up the trip with a cable car ride/hike up Oyama. The cable car reaches just about half-way up the mountain to a temple, and if you want to reach the summit, that’s up to you and your two feet. It was a beautiful day and we even lucked out with views of Fuji through the clouds! A perfect way to end a wonderful adventure! A very special thank you to our Moms who were not only fun to have around, but even despite being on vacation did laundry, washed dishes and helped in any way they could! Like I always say, you can take the Mom out of the home, but you can’t take the home out of the Mom… Hm. Not entirely sure that makes sense, but you get my drift! Mike and I are VERY lucky to have such wonderful parents, and Mums, you’re welcome back ANY time!!! 😀

Mt. Oyama cablecar
View from the summit of Oyama

And here’s a little movie I put together of their trip: