Monday, 12 December 2005

Christmas is coming

And plans, as I mentioned last week, are well under way for our return to the UK for a two-week sojourn. Logistically this is proving quite a challenge as neither myself nor the Guru have ever been to a foreign country with a seven month old baby, indeed we have only ever been away for one night with the little ‘un and that was an over nighter at the parents-in-law down in Chiba. This time that will just be the precusor as we will be staying with them on Saturday night before heading to Narita on Sunday for the flight – they live quite close to Narita, you see, or at least an awful lot closer than we do. Anyway on that first away trip we seemed to take enough gear to supply Caesar’s 15th Legion (including support staff and baggage train), so heaven knows how much stuff Virgin is going to have to stow in its holds, or how much excess we’ll have to pay for that matter. I’m hoping that as we are flying before the peak period, and on a Sunday, that the flight will be relatively quiet and so they’ll be a little bit less strict with the baggage limits, which with Virgin is a pretty puny 20kgs, even BA gives you more than that.

Along with the baggage issue is the ‘in-a-big-metal-tube-with-a-7-month-old-who-has-just-discovered-screaming-for-fun-for-12-hours’ conundrum. Not that it is actually much of a conundrum, really, as if he wants to scream, he will and there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot we can do about it at the moment, so more a case of feeling sorry for anyone sitting near us. Still, if the flight is quiet they might put us in a part of the plane where there aren’t too many others, such as upper class – well, one can hope. I, personally, am also banking on the kawaii, or cute, factor of the youngster. Being both British and Japanese (not half, thank you), and having inherited his mother’s looks (i.e. the better looking side of the relationship), he is an exceptionally cute looking baby, not that I am in any way biased, you realise, just stating fact. So much so that old women cross the road to get a better look at him and passers by shake me by the hand and congratulate me on having such a fine looking son. Anyway, hopefully we can use his good looks and charm to wangle something better for ourselves, or at least some good treatment by the staff (although I expect nothing less from Virgin, going on what I have heard).

The other problem we have is that with all of our baggage are Christmas presents for the whole family, plus electronic doohickies for golf-playing-brother, one of his work chums and another friend of the family. When I agreed to get all these things I wasn’t, of course, thinking about the packing because, as a man, I think about packing no more than 12 hours before I leave on holiday – now looking at the spare room I realise I should have thought about this more deeply, or at least asked the Guru if she thought we had room. So anyway it looks as if I will be packing a minimum of clothes for when I am over as I won’t be able to get any more in the suitcase even if I wanted to. Oh well.

But who cares as this time next week we will be back in Blighty with real beer, real sausages, real bacon and real(ly) crap service. Please note the “real sausages” and “real bacon” there, those upon whom we will be imposing...

Anyway in Japan right now the talk of the town, as it were, is infanticide. Last year I wrote about how parricide was all the rage, but that seems to have abated this year and it is adult men murdering young girls that is hitting the headlines. Not sure why these things come in spates, can’t believe it is copycatting, but you never know. Interestingly one of the horrible crimes was committed by the Peruvian chap of Japanese descent (there are a lot of big Japanese communities in South America and Peru, with ex-PM Alberto Fujimori, a favourite emigration destination early in the last century), the interesting bit being that the media didn’t make his foreign-ness a huge part of the story. It was part of the story, obviously, but more because the papers and whatnot were surprised he was allowed into the country after gaining a rather unsavoury reputation in Peru and having, therefore, to falsify his documents to get into Japan. The media focused more on the immigration lapses than the fact he wasn’t wholly Japanese, which is progress of a sort. In another story a cram school teacher stabbed a 7 year old girl to death in his classroom, no one is quite sure why, whilst elsewhere a spurned, lovesick boy killed the object of his lust and sometime killed two hostesses in their apartment, all of them stabbed.

Not exactly sure why I am writing about these grisly happenings. Obviously they are very sad, tragic, for the families and victims, perhaps now as a father these things seems to leap in the consciousness more, resonate more, I don’t know. But just goes to show that whoever says Japan is a safe country hasn’t been here for a while.

On a happier note there have been some particularly spectacular sunrises and sunsets recently. This time of year, about 2-3 weeks before the winter solstice, is wonderful as the sun sets behind Mt Fuji if you are looking at it from Kawaguchi, and especially if you happen to be on our balcony. So, here are some snaps, more over at those wonderful people at Flickr

Sunset behind Mt Fuji #1
sunset behind mt fuji #1

Sunset behind Mt Fuji #3
sunset behind mt fuji #3

Twilight on the Arakawa #1
twilight on the arakawa #1

Sunrise over Tokyo #1
sunrise over tokyo #1

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