Bursting with Butterflies

Rainbow colors fluttering through the air, feathery antennas brushing our skin, the scent of juicy nectar and pungent flowers — these are the sights, sounds, and aromas that filled our senses when the kids and I visited Igashira Park’s  butterfly house last month.  The butterfly house was one section of a bird, flower, and butterfly exhibit on the grounds of the huge park.  We all entered the butterfly sanctuary expecting to immediately be pounced upon by friendly creatures who wanted to land on our heads, hands, and feet, but we soon discovered that getting to that experience would take quite a bit of patience and a little bit of creativity.

Austin seemed to be the most attractive to the insects flapping their wings all around us, but soon the rest of us were able to get some of them to stop and spend a few seconds resting on our fingers.  We found that staying super still, putting drops of nectar from the butterfly feeders on our hands, and even (oddly enough) carrying a coke bottle made us more attractive to the colorful creatures.

In addition to butterflies, the exhibit housed a couple of toucans, a few other small birds, some turtles, and a plethora of plants, including a tropical banana tree, which was our favorite.

All that communing with nature left us hungry, so we popped over to the cafeteria next door and feasted on some delicious ice cream cones before heading home for the day.

Igashira Park is in Moka City, about 40 minutes from our house, so we don’t go there super often, but with bicycles to rent, a “10,000 person sized pool”, an obstacle course, and other attractions it’s a fun place to spend a pleasant afternoon as a family.  We will definitely be back!

IMG_8411

IMG_8431

IMG_8418

 

Advertisements

Family Fun at Green Park

Friends from Katie’s jazz dance class recently invited us to have a barbeque at Green Park in Utsunomiya.  We’d never been there before, but were really impressed with how many fun things there were for kids to do!  After feasting on delicious barbequed meat and vegetables next to the Kinugawa river, the kids set off to ride funny bicycles and then test their physical prowess on the “over water obstacle course.”  There was also a water play area, a paddle boat lake, and venders selling ice cream, crepes, and other delectable treats.  The weather was perfect and we greatly enjoyed the time with our friends.  We definitely plan to visit again!

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Fun with Snow and Igloos in Nikko

A few days ago, the kids and I hopped into the car with our good friend Yoshie and sped off for the mountains of Nikko to enjoy the Kamakura Matsuri. Matsuri means festival and kamakura are Japanese style igloos made out of packed snow. Two hours later, we were excitedly wading through knee-deep snow and the kids were “body sledding” down packed snow hills and enjoying every second of it. Even without the igloos to look at and climb inside of, Austin, Ethan and Katie were ecstatic just to be around so much snow and be able to play in it. In Utsunomiya it only snows a couple of times a year and even then it doesn’t get very deep — just a few centimeters, usually. It also melts quickly. So, the kids were jealous of peole who get to live in the mountains of Nikko with so much snow around them all winter. (I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but notice that there weren’t any grocery stores or other conveniences for miles around! I think I prefer just visiting…) The igloos were very cool, though, and some of them had tatami mats and a little barbeque stove inside them so you could eat a meal. We didn’t do any BBQ-ing, but we did buy warm “nikuman” (steamed bread with meat and spices inside) and ate those inside of an igloo so we could warm up a little. In addition to large igloos you could climb inside of, there was a huge area filled with mini igloos that had candles inside of them. Once it started to get dark, workers went out and lit all the candles. It was a beautiful sight!

Though it was a bit of a drive out there, we would definitely go again and would recommend the matsuri to anyone in the area, especially those with kids! If you go, be sure to bundle up! The night we were there it was minus 9 degrees Celsius — 7 degrees Farenheit. Burr!!

A Grassy Oasis!

Now that we have a nice lawn in our yard, we have been doing our best to enjoy it.  Picnicking with friends, spontaneously munching veggies off the vine, beating the heat through water play, observing nature, and just rolling around on the soft, mossy surface have been a  few of our favorite yard activities this summer.  Most recently, some of Katie’s preschool friends came over for lunch and then cooled off together by crowding into the baby pool.  Here is a little slide show of some of the fun we’ve had in our grassy oasis.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First Snow of Winter

It doesn’t snow very often in Utsunomiya, but when it does, the kids totally enjoy playing their hearts out in it!  We had the  first (and hopefully not the only) snow of the winter a few days ago and the kids and I had a blast throwing snowballs at each other and building creative snowmen (and snow women) to decorate our yard.  Here are some pics!

A Trip to the “Ocean House”

“Yeah!! We get to go to the Ocean House!!” This was our kids’ unanimous cry when Thursday afternoon rolled around and we were able to set off on our long-planned car trip to Shichigahama Machi near Sendai to stay at a friend’s beach house for two nights.  With us we took six BEST Club students who are part of our weekly Tuesday night Bible discussion group.  During the course of the three-day trip, we went out for sushi, had a beach barbeque, relaxed at the house, cooked together, sang together since several of the students are interested in playing the guitar, and had a Bible discussion one evening on the purpose of life.  Our kids had a fantastic time interacting with their Japanese “older brothers and sisters” and Bryan and I had fun getting to know the students better through living together for a couple of days.  Here are a few photos from our trip: