Japan 2017 – Day 13 – March 30

Today Russell felt better and we’re off to be tourists again.We took the train to Uji to see a beautiful temple built in 1053.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byōdō-in

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There is such a rich history here in Japan. Russell and I drive the girls crazy because we want to read all the signs and all about the history, whereas Kaz will take a look, grab a brochure, and check it off her list. Luckily, Squi can’t move quite that fast so we can easily compromise.

We jumped on another train and back to Kyoto we go. We hopped a taxi and got lucky because the driver was a pro tourist guide. He gave us lots of info and took us to our destination at Kiyozumi. There are about 67 gazillion steps up to the temple and they call them the “2 years steps” and another place called “3 years steps”. Basically, the legend has it that if you trip on these steps, you lose 2 or 3 years off your life. At my age, I was very careful.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer
We had a really nice dinner at Hashiba at a restaurant that didn’t usually open for dinner but we got lucky. They wereopen because, again by a stroke of luck, we happen to be there during “illumination time” which is a sort of celebration each year where they light up the streets.

As we descended the gazillion stairs, there were shops on each side so Carol and Kaz shopped while Squi begged for ice cream and Russell and I sat and people watched.

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The girls got their shopping mojo satisfied, Squi got his ice cream, and off to yet another temple we went.

Kodaiji Temple has a really cool light show that is this crazy sort of 3D thing that they project onto the ground and into the trees.

So pretty and almost impossible to take a photo of….so sorry about that. There is also a wonderful bamboo forest there at Kodaiji Temple and the lights illuminating it were wonderful and magical.

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After the light show we wandered around a bit on our way back to our hotel. One common thing to do in this area is look for all the Buddha statues and rub their bellies or pet them in some way. There is a map to where they all are but we just looked for the ones that were convenient to our path.

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Carol and Russell were pretty worn out so they retired to their room but Kaz, Squi, and I headed back out to hit the town. We walked over to the Kyoto Tower http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3945.html. and up to the top floor to have a drink but it was packed and we couldn’t get in. We got a kick out of a sign that said,”Sign up for a sheet!” They meant to say “seat”.

We hit the streets again and found Yebisu Bar open and still serving. Squi chilled while Kaz and I had a drink, people watched, and munched on appetizers.

Another great day in Japan!

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Japan 2017 – Day 12 – March 29

Little did we know what surprises THIS day had in store for us.
We decided to head out to Arashiyama and take what is LITERALLY called the “Romantic Train” for a lovely ride out through the country side and out into the boonies away from Kyoto. We arrived at the station with plenty of time to get our tickets for the Romantic Train that left from this same station an hour and a half later. We sat down to have a drink but I realized I’d left my backpack on the train!
Kaz dashed down and made some calls and inquiries and the bottom line was that she had to take another train to pick up my backpack and then try to get back before our “Romantic Train” left for the “peaceful and beautiful” ride.

Russell and Carol took a walk to a nearby temple, Squi and I visited the local miniature train set, while poor Kaz took off in a panicked dash to gather up my lost backpack, which, by the way had our passports and other stuff in it!
The miniature train set was incredible. It was about 1000 sq ft of miniature houses, trains, temples, Ferris wheels, and cityscapes. The room would even go dark and the whole set would light up in a night scene! Squi loved it.
Meanwhile, in the gift shop you could find crazy stuff like KitKat flavored sake, Romantic Train beer, and pizza flavored Pringles!Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer
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Much to all our amazement, Kaz made it back in time to make the Romantic Train and we boarded all happy and glad the ordeal was over….but it kinda wasn’t.

When we sat down, Russell said he didn’t feel well but that he thought he’d be OK till we got to our destination. He was kinda right but not totally. We had a lovely ride out through the country waving at rafters passing by below us in the river, checking out the mountains, and the occasional Cherry blossom. Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer

Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer We arrived at the teeny station at the end of the line out in the country side and we got up to leave the train…well…all of us except Russell. He was right about not feeling well. He stood up to get off the train but then sat back down and totally passed out!
Kaz ran to get someone while Carol and I sat with Russell not real sure what to do, but soon he came around and we helped him get up and off the train. We got him into the train station and after a bit of a visit to the restroom, he felt better. Turns out he’d had a sandwich that gave him a good dose of food poisoning. Still not sure what had happened, we took a cab back to our hotel in Kyoto and let Russell rest for the remainder of the day. I googled his symptoms and it was classic food poisoning, so assured as we were that he was out of the woods, we abandoned him and went sightseeing some more!

We walked a LOT. The Nishiki market was full of food, clothing, and souvenirs so Squi got some yummy ice cream while we just nosed about.Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer
In the Gion district, which is famous as the birthplace of Geiko, we had some marvelous tempura while Squi was passed out on our laps.
A side note: the original name is Geiko (not Geisha). The origins of Geiko are rooted in Kyoto and the Geiko who work in Tokyo are called Geisha. In Japan, Geiko or Geisha are rock stars. They are highly educated and trained for YEARS before they are allowed to accept clients. A popular misconception in the States is that they are more or less high paid prostitutes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are highly educated, politically and artistically aware, professional company. At $1000 – $5000 for an evening, it is usually wealthy business men who have Geiko as escorts to events and dinners. Their kimono alone can cost upwards of $20,000 or more, so it is not a profession taken lightly. We were VERY fortunate to have seen one Geiko as she left the House to meet with her client. More often than not, they will be picked up in front of the House or the business man will come to the House for dinner or an evening of entertainment. Three things to be aware of if you are in Gion in search of Geiko. One is that you will see LOTS of tourist girls dressed up as Geiko, so don’t get confused. Two, you will also occasionally see Maiko who are girls in training to become Geiko. Three – there are girls who dress up and parade around getting their photos taken with/by unsuspecting tourists and charging for the photos. These are NOT Geiko and as a matter of fact, it is fairly rare to see an actual Geiko.

Another thing that I find endlessly fascinating about Japanese history and culture is the architecture. The eaves of many old temples and shrines look like a crazy kind of Lincoln Log arrangement. We checked out Temple Kodaiji to make sure the light show we enjoyed the year before was still going on.  It was.

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Squi passed out … in Gion while we were eating nice Tempura dinner.

I had a conversation with an American architect that I randomly ran into while we were there. He said the structures were interlocked so as to be stable but that the way they interlocked allowed them to move during and earthquake. It was so random to run into him while I was there staring at the structures and wondering, yet again, why and how they made these incredible structures. Strangley – we BOTH had just celebrated our birthdays the day before! What are the odds!

Back at the hotel Russell was recovering and we came home tired and ready to relax before getting up and doing it all again!

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Japan 2017 – Day 11 – March 28

From Tokyo to Kyoto is about 320 miles, which translates to about 2 hours and a half bullet train ride. It’s a beautiful ride with, on a clear day, a lovely view of Mt. Fuji. While it was a wonderful ride, it was too cloudy and overcast to see Fuji.
While Squi took a nap, Carol, Russell, and I went to see the Fushimi Inari Gate.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fushimi_Inari-taisha
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There are supposedly 1000 tori gates here and as much as we’d love to ascribe deep spiritual meaning to them, the truth is they were donated by business men. Of course, there IS a bit of spiritual overtone to all tori gates but “spirituality” in Japan is much more secular than the implications in Western culture.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torii

One very famous temple in Kyoto is Toji Temple. The 5 story (about 150 feet tall) wooden pagoda is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. How a structure like this can be built and continue to stand for HUNDREDS of years in such an earthquake prone country is mystifying.

Settling into our hotel rooms in Kyoto and having another great meal was perfect after a day of sightseeing and LOTS of walking.

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More info on temple meal!

But let me just say a little bit about Japanese toilets. They are…uh…interesting. While I like the nice warm heated seats, from there on, the choices are baffling.

Los Angeles Photographer Actors HeadshotThe bidet…where it points, how strong, what temperature, what the spray looks like, etc etc…baffling. I dreaded going in to poop and having my toilet “crash” and having to reboot it! And of course, all the instructions are written in Japanese, so suffice to to say I got several surprises while in Japanese bathrooms.
Which brings me to one other thing. The Japanese do MOST things better than we do here in the States but one area where they fall behind is paper products. Napkins, paper towels, Kleenex, and the all important toilet paper. IF you get a napkin in a restaurant, it’s usually very thin and fragile as are the kleenex and TP. So I often bought extra thick kleenex to keep with me at all times for various purposes.
One last note to all who are considering a trip to Japan…there are very few public trash cans. You are expected to take your trash with you and dispose of it back at your hotel or home. It makes for a VERY clean society. I’ve looked out the window of many trains there and for miles and miles never seen as much as a kleenex or discarded paper on the railroad tracks! I admire that!

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Japan 2017 – Day 10 – March 27

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I LOVE the bullet train! The Hyabusa is the fastest of all the bullet trains in Japan and we decided to take it for a quick day trip up to Sendai, 300 miles north of Tokyo. The 300 mile trip takes an hour and a half and that’s with a couple of stops! It was a beautiful smooth ride and there was one area we traveled through where they had snow.

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Snow in Fukushima

Russell, Carol and I explored a local temple near the train station in Matsushima and walked down to the ocean to see if we could find any signs of the tsunami’s destruction. At the temple there are limestone outcrops where the monks have carved “rooms” into the rock. The rooms were used as the final resting places for cremated remains and for occasional meditation areas.

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We found nothing to indicate the area had recently been through an assault by a 60 foot wall of water. One thing that helped protect this area was all the islands that dot the offshore area there. It’s amazing how quickly the area has returned to business as usual. As a side note, when you see construction sites in Japan, the barriers erected are often these cute anime characters…again in the spirit of “Kawai” (cute). It’s seen throughout Japanese culture…funny to see a very dignified business man in a suit carrying a cell phone with a cute little charm dangling from it.

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In Sendai, Date Masamune is everywhere.

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Squi and Mommy went to Anpanman Museum

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In the Sendai train station there were lots of places to eat and novelties to check out. One thing I admired greatly was a “dollar a shot” sake sampling vending machine! NOW we’re talking! Especially since I didn’t have to drive anywhere!Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer

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We enjoyed a wonderful bullet train back to Asakusa where we checked out yet another temple. I never get tired of admiring these structures. They are all a bit different and all have a unique history.

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We went to dinner with Seri, Kaz’s old friend and Kaz’s bother, Takashi. We ate at Gonpachi restaurant and the good news is we had the best oysters EVER in my entire life! The bad news is, it’ll be hard to have oysters here in the States since they can’t compare. We did an oyster tasting… sampling them from all parts of the Japanese coast. Of course, along with tons of other food, there was the requisite over indulgence of sake and beer.

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Great friends, great food, and a wonderful country make for a truly memorable experience!

 

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Squi loves his uncle, Takeshi!

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Japan 2017 – Day 9 – March 26

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Asakusa Senso Temple

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Rainy Day in Harajuku

One of the things about being in Tokyo, is getting used to spending a lot of time on trains. The thing about the subway system in Tokyo is that it is incredibly efficient. The trains are always on time and you can pretty much get anywhere in this huge city…that’s the good news. The bad news is most of the maps and legends are written in Japanese with occasional English. There are FOUR levels of subway underground and to get from point A to point B, you may have to go down to level 1, take a train for a couple stops, get off, go down to level 4 and take another train for 10 stops, then go back up to level 2 and take another train for 5 stops, then go down to level 3 and take a final train to your destination THEN try to find your way out. Each stop means you have to find the next train and when you come into an intersection, there may be 6 ways you can go….all of this underground.  Not to mention there are entire shopping malls, sometimes 6-8 floors worth, all underground.

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Kaz’s Favorite cookie Ginbisu Animal cookies!

So Kaz went to see her Dad and took Squi along to hang out with Grandpa while Carol, Russell, and I explored. Our first goal was Harajuku. Part of being in Tokyo is just being OK with getting lost in the subway but after a relatively small amount of wandering, we made our way to Harajuku. Known for all things “Kawai” (cute), Harajuku is home to “Harajuku Girls” who dress up like dolls with a LOT of makeup and frilly dresses. Many of them are anime inspired costumes and are quite ornate.
Harajuku is pretty much one long street that is super crowded even on a rainy day like it was when we were there. Lots of touristy shops and places to eat and people watch. I have to say, one of the things I enjoy most in Japan is just sitting and people watching…but I can do that pretty much anywhere I go.
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After her visit with her Dad, Kaz took Squi to Sanrio Land – home of “Hello Kitty” (which, by the way, did you know, is NOT a cat!?) Squi lost his mind there. It’s a HUGE facility with rides and entertainment for days. Even the cheeseburgers are “Hello Kitty”.

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Squi’s grandparents

 

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Hello kitty cheeseburger. Kaz said everything was PINK at the Puroland!

IMG_6478We all met up again in Shinjuku and got more of our shopping, exploring, and sightseeing mojo going.
The top two floors of Shinjuku Station are a food court. Maybe because of the rain, but the restaurants were packed and we ended up waiting a while to have some really delicious Thai food!
We wandered around a bit more then headed back underground to catch a couple of trains back to our rooms.
It was a long day with LOTS of walking so we were glad to sit on the train for a bit, then have a beer, relax, and have a little toast to my birthday.Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot  IMG_6454

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Japan 2017 – Day 8 – March 25

Los angeles Photographer Actors HeadshotFrom the comfort and solitude of our getaway in ryokan Kamata, we ventured back to the big city madness of Tokyo. Tokyo is currently the biggest city in the world, and wonderfully – the SAFEST city in the world! I could literally put my camera on a bench with my wallet next to it, go in a store and shop for an hour, and when I came back it would still be there. It’s one of the MANY things about Japanese culture that I love and admire.

In Tokyo we arrived at the train station in Shinagawa then took a cab to our hotel in Asakusa. One thing about the hotels in Japan…the rooms are small….very small. But we figured we were only going to be in there for sleeping and taking a shower, so no big deal but it’s worth noting if you are planning a trip there.

Our friends, Carol and Russell came in that night to hang out with us for a week. We were so happy to see them and excited to show Russell around since it was his first time in Japan. Carol had been there before with us, so this was a special treat for her also.
First stop, of course, was a local bar to get a taste of what the Japanese do and drink after work. We went to the locally famous Kamiya Bar and had tasty bar food treats.
https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/bars-and-pubs/kamiya-bar
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Kaz had to teach an acting class that evening, so she hopped a train and left us on our own to wander and explore. Our explorations started out with going to Akihabra, the electronics capitol of Tokyo. I forgot to bring our selfie stick from home, so it was an easy find in Akihabra.
We didn’t count on our GPS not working so well in the city. Seems the signal bounces all around in the tall buildings and makes finding each other pretty much impossible. Contrary to what Verizon said, my phone wasn’t working, so I was useless in helping find Kaz once her class was over. After a lot of false starts, we all were finally reunited and got our shopping mojo in gear.

We had a good laugh at the Asahi building and the ridiculous giant sculpture on top of the building adjacent to it. Supposedly the Asahi building is a beer glass with the foam of a beer on top and the “golden Flame” atop the other building represents the fire or flame inside the beer. It makes no sense and has come to be known as  “Kin no unko” which translates as “The golden Turd”. At least it is memorable!Los angeles Photographer Actors Headshot
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Even though it was chilly and drizzling rain, it was great to be here and with good friends.
We found a fabulous restaurant and had extraordinary miso dipping sauces and veggies. Even the veggies seem better in Japan.

We made it back to our hotel content with a good day of exploring, shopping, and eating amazing food. Carol’s famous quote of the trip was,”I wanna just eat my way through Japan!”

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Japan 2017 – Day 7 – March 24

Although it was two days before, we  continue to celebrate my birthday. We had a crazy wonderful breakfast including tamago (egg) and lobster miso soup! There was also fish, rice, and different kinds of pickles – NOT your typical American food but sooo delicious.

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We headed out from our ryokan (old style hotel) in Yugawara to catch a bus to Hakone. I wanted to visit this teeny town because of the astonishing woodwork they do there. You can read about it and check out a cool video here:

The bus ride to get to Hakone took us up and over the local mountains and as we crossed over the top, it began to snow! I wish I had been able to get out and take some photos because it was stunningly beautiful. Hakone is a tiny little town located on the shores of Lake Asahi. The lake is tucked into the Southeast corner of a huge volcanic caldera and on a clear day you can see Mt Fuji. Although we didn’t have time to go there, Hakone Shrine is also located on the lake and is indicated by a beautiful large red Tori Gate.
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In Hakone we visited the wood working shops and all the tourist spots where you can buy lovely gifts that are unique to this area.
We boarded a large “ship” and toured around the lake and enjoyed being able to sit down for a little while and get out of the cold, the wind, and the snow.

There is a cable car called the “Ropeway”, that goes to the top of the mountain. It is sporadically open because the volcano frequently belches out poisonous fumes that stop the cable car operations. When we got there, it was closed. We were buying gifts in a local shot when all of a sudden they announced the Ropeway was open! We dashed to the station and hopped on and rode to the top of the mountain to where the volcano was still spewing out sulfur clouds. There are hot springs all over this area and one tradition is to put eggs in the sulfurous springs to hard boil them. This process turns the egg shells black and eating one is supposed to add 7 years to your life! So I had about a dozen.Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer Michael HelmsIMG_6337

A slight bit of the snow had begun to stick to the ground so I showed Squi how to make a snowball! He, unfortunately, picked Mommy as his first target. She was lucky he didn’t have gloves, so after three snowballs he was done making them. Los Angeles Photographer Actors headshot

From the top of the mountain, we took a bus down to Sounzan and and from there a small train to Gora. We were having a nice lunch in Gora and waiting to board yet another train, when I realized I had left my cell phone on the bus! In any other country, kiss it goodbye, but in Japan it is a matter of just going back to get it. No one steals in this country and everyone makes their best effort to get whatever you lost, back to you. We were running out of time, but managed to dash back up the mountain and retrieve my phone.
Back down the mountain we boarded a quaint old train and rode slowly to Odawara, then back “home” to Yugawara station. From there a short taxi ride back to our ryokan Kamata.

We were fairly tired from being out in the cold, wind, and snow but it was all so fun, except for losing my phone, and we came back with gifts for friends and great memories.

That evening, after yet another fabulous meal, Squi helped me blow out the one candle on my surprise birthday cake.
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A nice way to end a day and relax in comfort.
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Japan 2017 – Day 6 – March 23

We were headed to Yugawara for my birthday present which was a getaway at a ryokan (an old style Japanese hotel) but first, I had to shoot the CEO of some company. I wanted to pick up a reflector on the way but between the traffic and the stop at the camera store, we ended up getting there late. The Japanese are ever so gracious and I got the shoot done very quickly. Funny how, even a late as I was to get there, the CEOs and his assistant sat us down for a cup of tea before the photo shoot began.Actors Headshot Los AngelesActors Headshot Los Angeles

After the work was done, it was time for vacation to begin in earnest. We went to Shinagawa and waited for our train at the station. Kaz disappeared for a while as Squi and I enjoyed all the trains coming and going. Every time Kaz disappeared in Japan, she always came back with food and this time was no different except for one exception. She got Squi a very special surprise – a fruit sandwich! I had seen most of the other stuff she had in bento boxes but never a fruit sandwich. It is now Squi’s favorite.

The train ride took us down the East coast of Japan to Yugawara.
https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/regional/kanagawa/yugawara.htm

From there a short taxi ride to Kamata, our ryokan.
http://www.kamata-oku.com/

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We arrived in the early evening and were able to walk around the grounds and take a few photos. I have this thing for bamboo forests – why or where it comes from I have no idea, but I enjoy them. So I was happy to see a small stand of bamboo near the ryokan. Hakone2522webLos Angeles Photographer
There were a couple of waterfalls and a koi pond and unlike Tokyo, it was peaceful and quiet. I can’t think of a better place to spend a birthday with my family.

We were shown to our room but Squi ran ahead and down the hall to what he thought was our room. Unfortunately, he went in the wrong room and we went into OUR room knowing he would be along soon. Sure enough, after a minute, he strolled into our room to join us….but not before he announced,”You do NOT wanna go in THAT room….(the room he had mistakenly gone in)…there’s a NAKED MAN in there!” I suspect somewhere in Japan, there is a man still wondering who the heck the little boy was that disturbed his privacy.

After settling in we had an amazing meal of lobster and sushi (Squi had a burger).Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot
We decided to try the outdoor private onsen but that proved to be a mistake. In our bathrobes, it was cold walking to the onsen and when we got there, I couldn’t even hold my foot in the water. It was waaaayyy too hot. So we took a shivering walk back to our room and drew a tolerably hot bath there.
Subsiding goose bumps and another beer put me in a true happy birthday mood as I soaked in the tub.

As we were checking our emails, catching up on the days events in the news, and having another laugh over Squi’s misadventure, the ryokan staff showed up to make up our futon beds and we were all ready to snuggle in for a comfy night.

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Japan 2017 – Day 5 – March 22

Another full day in Japan. It was the day John Jack (by now, better known as “Jesus Jack”) had to head back to Los Angeles. We sooo enjoyed his company that we hated to see him leave. We have a tradition when we are in Japan that we go to Dennys for breakfast. Yep – I said “Dennys”. It’s a funny aberration of what we have here but is none the less a Dennys – logo and all. There are lots of things you can get at Dennys in Japan that just aren’t available at the Dennys here, so it makes it an adventure. Salmon and rice with natto (fermented soybeans – yum) is on the menu and quite delicious in my opinion. Google “natty” – it’ll bring a smile to your face.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer los angeles photographer
The Japanese never seem to offer decaf coffee in their restaurants, so those of us who drink it end up having to drink the regular “high test” and get a caffeine rush to start the day. So after breakfast, I was ready to run a marathon but it was time to take Jesus Jack to the hotel so he could hop a bus to Haneda airport.
We were about a week early for the cherry blossoms but we found one tree that was blooming and did a selfie with JJ in front of it for a good memory.  We got JJ on the bus at the Shinjuku Hilton and Squi did his now famous “Goodbye Dance” that he had invented especially for this trip. As bad as we felt seeing our dear friend leave, I think JJ felt even worse knowing there are so many adventures to be had in Japan and he didn’t have enough time to explore. Next time, JJ.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer One of the top things on our “To Do” list in Japan was to take Squi to the Doraemon Museum. Doraemon is a Japanese animated figure that has been around a long time. It was Kaz’s favorite character when she was a kid and now it is one of Squi’s favorites. The museum, I am sorry to say, was a HUGE disappointment. It WAS more of a historical museum than a place for children. Oddly there were large fiberglass castings of the characters in the Doraemon cartoons but they had signs on them not to touch them or climb on them. Some were available to touch and take photos with but most of them were off limits. It was like having kids in a candy shop and not letting them have most of it. While I did enjoy reading about the history of it, it was disappointing from the standpoint of a good time for Squi. He got bored and was wanting to touch all the “untouchable” so we cut our visit down a bit.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer Los Angeles Headshot Photographer Michael Helms Los Angeles Headshot Photographer

We jumped train and headed to Yokohama to nose around and visit, of all places, Chinatown. So weird to me to go to Japan and visit Chinatown but it was interesting and fun. We had some good food and walked our legs off. The ship “Nippon Meru” is in a dock there and is a beautiful old vessel. It was built in 1930 in Kobe and was a training vessel for the Japanese Merchant Marine. I’m not sure if it is the original ship or a replica but it is a lovely old thing if you are into ships.

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Our dear friend, Tamara, is into anything “Panda”, so we sent her a text message with a photo of a shop in Chinatown that is COMPLETELY dedicated to all things Panda! I’m sure she will have to buy a ticket to Japan just to shop in that store. I’m sure she would go crazy buying panda stuff and have to buy another suitcase for her trip home.

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We were exhausted again from a full day of walking, shopping, eating, and riding trains so we headed back to our room and had a nightcap of sake and beer. Nice way to end another terrific day in this gracious wonderful country.

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Japan 2017 – Day 4 – March 21

Day 4 was a long one for poor Squi. Kaz and John Jack were teaching and in meetings a lot of the day and into the evening. Some of the time I was able to take him out and walk around and try not to get lost. We came up with a game where we would walk and every block or so I would take a photo of where we came from so we could find our way back. Much better than bread crumbs. I still am not sure how to do it in a way that shows me where to turn left or right unless I make notes. I’m working on it.
Squi enjoyed this game and wanted to play it everywhere we went in Japan but it doesn’t work so well on a bullet train!

It was mostly a day of sitting and trying to behave while Kaz and John Jack lectured but since Squi is only 4 and I have such a juvenile sense of humor, we are dangerous to have around for any length of time.

Los Angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms in Japan

los angeles headshot photographer
Squi got so bored he fell asleep, which is not a good thing to do around us. We have a tradition of, when he goes to sleep in a public place, we stack things on his forehead and take a photo. We have tons of photos of the poor little guy passed out with various things stacked up. I’m not sure what these things are – maybe mochi or rice cakes or some kind of cookie. The stack fell over twice and hit him in the face before we got it to stand but he never woke up.

Los Angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms in Japan

Kaz and John Jack spoke to some students at Digital Hollywood and it went so well, they were invited back to have a meeting with the head honcho for future projects. I think it will be a great connection and students from there are going to come take some cases at the Stella Adler Acting Academy here in Hollywood. John Jack is quite the statesman. Stella Adler couldn’t ask for a better PR person than him, especially if Kaz is along also…quite the team. Although I will say, John Jack in his tireless ambition is happy to hang out and answer all the myriad questions that actors throw at him. Being from the South, he answers in a way I would call “thorough”. Sometimes this thoroughness goes on for a while, at which point some of us who shall remain unnamed would remark,”Jesus Jack!”. After a few days of teaching and meetings, he became known as “Jesus Jack” and now owns a special pair of chopsticks with his new name on them. Well earned, my dear friend!

The best tour advice always comes from the cab driver.   So after the workshop, we hopped on to a cab, and asked him “Take us to the best steakhouse that is open this late!”

Los Angeles Photographer
Back at our Air BnB, we chatted more about future plans and went to bed happy and full of amazing Japanese food and sake!

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