See photos here:http://picasaweb.google.com/mommydanna/JapanDay2?feat=directlink
We woke up early again today (4am) but Scott and I did not feel right. When I described my symptoms (off balance, weak, headache, fluish, drowsy) Scott informed me that THIS was "jetlag". I felt so great the day before but several people warned me that the effects of jetlag usually set in a day or two after arrival. I'm glad I had the warning because otherwise I'm afraid I would have thought I was dying from some strange Asian flu!
After breakfast, Scott took the kids to the park across from our house and I stayed behind to clean up the house. Later, Karen picked us up and took us to downtown Tama to a local Soba shop for lunch. This is John and Karen's favorite local "hole in the wall" spot for great food and it was AWESOME! I kept thinking "if we were regular tourists we would never have found this place"! I loved listening to Karen, John and Shawn speak Japanese to the locals. John finally had to look up how to say "little brother" so he could introduce us.
In the restaurant, an older Japanese man was completely enthralled with Marshall. He took him from Shawn and held him the entire time we ate. They don't get to see little bald, blue eyed "Gaijin" babies in this neighborhood very often!
After lunch, John, Shawn, Scott took the kids to the park near their home and Karen and I went shopping in downtown Fochu. THAT was quite and experience. I was so amazed. The Japanese are just as exploited by product marketing as we are! They have their own pop stars, their own popular cartoons and their very own Japanese Disney characters. I was also struck by their fashion trends. They are similar to the US trends in some ways yet so different in others.
I wish I could explain the parking deck at the mall. It was the most futuristic thing I've ever seen. In Japan their is no space so everything has to go up or it has to go down. After driving about 4 stories underground we parked in a little space that reminded me of driving into a car wash and then the van was whisked away and filed like a record in a juke box!! You can see a video of a similar one here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB1N68KYZ7E
Everything in the grocery store is HALF the size of things in the US. Boxes of cereal, packages of bacon, boxes of laundry detergent, packages of toilet paper..etc. Even the shopping carts and the silverware! But guess what I DID NOT see??? Overweight people! I mean never. Once in a while you might see a slightly chubby person but never a morbidly obese person. It really made me wonder what about this culture keeps them thin? Is it portion sizes? Is it the fact they walk and bike more? They seem to have access to plenty of processed junk food and there is no shortage of carbs (they eat rice with every meal!). Karen said that as more and more US fast food restaurants open up (McDonalds, KFC, etc) they are starting see more overweight Japanese.
After shopping we had a nice dinner at John and Karens and our whole family crashed on their couches until 6am when John brought us back to our house.