We've succeeded in getting out an about again this weekend, this time to Mt. Takao. Of all the adjustments we've experienced as a family, the biggest challenge has been the transition to city life. And we didn't just move to any city. We moved to the world's largest city, if you count Yokohama as an extension of Tokyo, which is easy to do.
So we're learning how to incorporate nature into the rhythm of our weeks, to seek it out. Last weekend, it was the respite of camping on a mostly-empty beach. This weekend, it was 1 1/2 hours each way on a train to climb our first mountain.
Well, climb it halfway up, anyway. We had an initiation into Japanese outdoor life when we arrived at the base of the mountain and found the cable car and chairlift ticket stations. We chose the open air, of course, and rode up several hundred feet to climb the rest of the way on foot. We joined throngs of nature seekers amid the souvenir stands, snack stands, noodle shops, and temple prayer shrines.
We even had a chance to to wash our coins in the glow of this beautiful statue.
Upon reaching the summit and having our green tea soft-serve ice cream cones, Isaiah was lured to a quiet corner by the sounds of a harmonica. We arrived to a group of hikers who had obviously been enjoying much of the afternoon imbibing and playing their harmonicas in the shade of a pavilion. When they saw us, they started a stomping rendition of "Oh, Susannah," to which I joined my voice, much to the children's chagrin.
A word here about this chagrin. Already...already!...they tell me often that I'm embarrassing them. For example...as you would suspect, dance parties are a frequent occurrence in our kitchen and living room. The other day, Miel and I started to rock out and then she sat down and said she couldn't dance if I was dancing, that my moves were embarrassing her. Now, of course I didn't let that stop me, but still...really???
So you can imagine how they felt when I started singing with these old harmonica players. And then when I walked up and offered the musicians some chocolate-covered almonds, I turned around and both children were covering their faces with their hands, they were so mortified.
Hee-hee, the last laugh was on the kiddos, though, because apparently the chocolate treat sealed the friendship. The self-proclaimed sensei of the group proceeded to round us all up in a rough circle to do a dance around the picnic grounds. It took many minutes of arranging and figuring and explaining to their group what moves we were to do, but in the end, we stomped, chanted, and walked in a circle like Egyptians, much to the entertainment of picnicking couples and families around us. We even had some hikers on the trail down to the bottom of the hill recognize us with a giggle and give us the hand to the head dance sign.
I had so many deeply felt responses to the last post that have had me thinking more on this idea of "home" and "global citizen." As parents, we are always making decisions on what and how to teach our children. In our house, it seems as though we both trust our intelligence enough that we don't worry so much about book smarts...the children seem to be learning to read and do math through time together and osmosis.
A day like yesterday brings to the forefront some of the Important Life Lessons that I take it as my responsibility to model and imbue:
- Follow the music.
- Share chocolate.
- Sing along when you know the words.
- Dance when you're invited (and like no one is watching).
- Have some of what they're having.
I'd love to hear some of your golden rules! Together, we can nurture the next generation of world peace. (If you're reading this off facebook, would you mind terribly using the blog comment section? Then we have them all in one place, which makes your virgo blogger feel so much more settled :)
And we did ditch the chairlift for the far side of the mountain and had a spectacular hike down. We felt like we were in Fern Canyon in Humboldt County, which is a very nice place indeed! Few people, some waterfalls, and some cave shrines.
So I guess we've got another 2 to add to the list:
- Take the long way home.
- Take the road less traveled.