Obon 2011

Obon (お盆) is the short summer holiday that almost every person in Japan (except those who work in retail and hospitality I suppose) takes in the middle of August. Roads are jam-packed with cars, shopping malls are full of screaming kids, and the price of accommodation and travel skyrockets.

Yoshi and I were so busy with our new bubba that we forgot all about the holiday and didn`t make any plans (most people here plan months, if not a year, in advance) and were out of luck when it came to finding a hotel in either of the places we (well `I` actually) wanted to go.

Anyway, Yoshi had 5 days off work, so we tried to make the most of our time together as a new little family.

Here are the highlights of our Obon 2011.

Although we have been lots of times, it was the first time we took Aiden to Ikea and actively looked for things to brighten up his corner of the room (Aiden doesn`t have his own room and sleeps in his crib next to my side of the bed).
We found a giant green leaf that stands up over the crib (to help shade it from light and the air conditioner), and two bright cushions (to stop Aiden from rolling onto his tummy during the night).

We drove to Nara (deep into the mountains) in search of a waterfall that was featured in the August issue of Kansai Walker magazine. We entered the route info into the car navigation but ended up getting lost and driving about 30km in the wrong direction. By the time we got to the waterfall it was almost dark, but it was really nice to get out of the bustling city and get some fresh air. (You can see I was trying out the new `retro camera` app on my Ipod)

After seeing the waterfall, we headed back towards Nara city because there was a candle festival being held in Nara park. It was named To-Kae and was held in the first half of August.

Unfortunately I didn`t manage to get any pictures, so I borrowed some from other people...

Ohaka Mairi
Haka is the term for grave in Japan and every so often, especially at New Year and during Obon, families visit the graves of their ancestors to clean up the headstones, place flowers, light incense and pray.

This time, Yoshi`s uncle came down from Tokyo, and we all went to the grave together (about 13 people including the nieces and nephews). After ohaka mairi we went to the Rhiga Royal hotel for dinner and karaoke! Everyone in Yoshi`s family loves to sing (and they are all pretty talented), so I enjoyed listening to some old Japanese classics, and even some English songs too (Yoshi`s nieces sang `Hello, goodbye` by the Beatles, and `We are the world` by Michael Jackson). The cutest moment was when all the kids sang this song (which very oddly and slightly disturbingly has been in the top 20 here for the last few weeks) complete with actions and adorable voices!

We also managed a bit of shopping and lots of good food over the holiday, so all in all, it was a nice break. It was good to have Yoshi around because he gave Aiden a bath most nights, and although he slept until midday on his days off, we still had plenty of time together.

(Aiden asleep on Yoshi`s lap - with Yoshi`s hat on!)


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