Shuma became a first-grader last month, a fact that seems to amaze our Japanese friends and family (Japan’s school year starts in April, so he’s half a year ahead of his peers). He was very proud of his cool new backpack, a present from his jiiji and baaba (grandpa and grandma). Typically in Japan, a student entering elementary school receives a study desk and a randoseru (a rigid leather backpack), often from the grandparents. And while randoseru are cute and durable (they are built to last from grade one to six), they are also ridiculously expensive and rather impractical (at least in the context of Canadian elementary school), so when my in-laws asked what they should get him, we asked for this super cool glow-in-the-dark monogrammed number right here.
Not long after starting school he turned six. My family tends to celebrate birthweeks rather than birthdays, so we had a number of little celebrations- a dinner at the Mandarin (an enormous buffet restaurant that is famous/infamous in our area), a dinner and cake at home (tacos and ice cream cake, his dream meal), a mountain of Lego gifts, and a weekend away with just the two of us.
His birthweekend started with brunch, a concept he wasn’t too sure about at first but is now sold on, and then went to our area’s finest shopping mall (as measured by percentage of women with artificial trout pout) to buy some fine chocolate, a fine Lush bath bomb (his request) and some fine Lego. We stuffed this container full of Lego parts (wheels, propellers, tiny studs, rare/esoteric parts) for $20 and I can’t decide if that’s a good deal or not. In the Lego stores in Japan you just pay by the gram and it seems cheaper.
Then on to our hotel, the Delta East, chosen for its proximity to the zoo and J-Town (a small collection of Japanese stores and restaurants), and its pool with the awesome water slide. Sadly the slide had a height limit and Shuma didn’t meet it, so I spent a good part of the afternoon consoling a despondent boy and trying to encourage/cajole/trick him into trying the little kids’ slide (which he would have thought was super cool under any other circumstances). We had more success at J-Town, where Shuma ate his beloved ikuradon (salmon roe over sushi rice) for dinner.
The next day we went to the zoo, where the animals (especially the wolves, an orangutan, and Juno the junior polar bear) were especially active so my pictures were all blurry from the action (as opposed to my normal zoo pictures which are of crisply focused lumps of sleeping animal flesh).
We would have kept his birthday festivities going, but then my birthday came along and got in the way. (See how I snuck that in there? If you’re stuck for ideas, I like brunches and shopping at fine malls.)
A few more pictures here.