May 27, 2014

Robot Restaurant....ummm, speechless

 Thanks to my mom being in town for a visit, Matt and I got a rare date night. We headed down to Shinjuku with our good friends, the Kever's, to the Robot Restaurant. We were in for quite an experience!

This is the front of the  restaurant. It is called Robot Restaurant, but it is really more of a show. A small bento box meal can be purchased for Y1,000 ($10.00), but we skipped that, as the main attraction is really the show.

Upon arrival, we were ushered into a lounge to wait for the show to begin. In this calming and serenely decorated room (haha), we visited and waited for the show. Las Vegas may have finally met it's match!

These ladies were playing lovely classical music selections. Canon in D goes perfectly with the d├ęcor, no? But I really enjoyed the music!

The "beer girl" was actually wearing a keg on her back.

There were also cocktail waitresses in kitty ears.

And each table had a toy dinosaur crawling around the table. We're off to a great start -and that was just the beginning!

When it was time for the show, we entered a very psychedelic looking staircase to make our way to the theater.

The show was a very bizarre mix of music, dancers, characters, robots, and everything else! These girls opened the show with taiko drums.

Some slow musical numbers.

Some drumming girls in bunny ears.

A boxing match between two huge robots.

A mermaid on a huge shark.

Some very big robots dancing to music.

But, the point which I realized that I had no clue what was going on, was when a panda bear came riding out on a cow. This was a highlight for me indeed!

Our intermission selfie.

There was even a moment during the show when they stopped all the action to allow the audience members to  take pictures with the robots on the stage floor. (And in true Japanese fashion, pictures were also allowed during the entire performance!)

My adventure buddy, Merri, and I.

When our pictures had been taken and everyone had once again found their seats, the finale started. It was a bizarre mix of everything including audience participation with glow sticks to the tune of "Gangnam Style". So fun.

At the end of the show they invited everyone to leave immediately. Haha! We loved the signs they brought out, especially the MOVE NOW part.

It was weird, it was wild, it was totally a blast. And oh, so Tokyo!

May 10, 2014

Our opportunity to serve.

Today we had the pleasure of attending a homeless ministry with our chapel community on base, in conjunction with a Japanese Christian church. I thought it would be a good way for the girls to learn service to others. The Japanese church asked for rice and cooking oil donations, and our base community stepped up in a BIG way!

We completely filled the bus cargo compartment with donations.

We headed to Ueno Park, which is a very large park in downtown Tokyo, very similar to Central Park in New York City. Upon arrival we had a quick break for lunch, and were of course stopped by several groups of Japanese schoolgirls for pictures. We are beginning to refer to these groups as the "kawaii club". Some of them even wanted ME in the picture. I laughed out loud at this!

After a quick bite, it was time to get to work.

There were a few tents set up for food preparation.

They were boiling up LOTS of eggs, and cooking up hot dogs and sausages. Also chopping up various kinds of lunch meat.

The girls helped wipe down stacks of plates and insert them into plastic bags. The food was placed on top of the plastic bag to make clean up easier.

My job was to chop up daikon (a mild Japanese radish) for use in a salad. They were VERY specific on the method of chopping and wanted a very thin julienne, a few guys were fired from this position. Haha!

We had lots to chop.

The other volunteer's enjoyed chatting with the girls and gave them Japanese candy.

Then we had the big job of peeling the hard boiled eggs.

All the daikon was mixed into a salad with soy sauce and mayo. It looked really good!

We unloaded all of our donations from the base and the Japanese pastor's wife was quite tearfully appreciative of the support from our base community.

There were mountains of bread donated by local bakeries and also a generous amount from Costco.

The girls found a new friend and had fun biding their time until it was time to serve.

There was a service and  bible readings. I wish I understood Japanese better!

In addition to food, there was also clothes available, and a hair cutting station. 

After they received the hot food, we handed out yogurt, fruit and bread for the men to take with them. The men enjoyed seeing the children, and the girls loved their 'job'.

The men were very polite and only accepted what they thought they would eat.

I was very impressed at how orderly everything was. The men (about 300-400 of them) waited in lines, and as each line filed through for their meal, the next line moved forward.

Interestingly, there were no homeless women or children at this event. I asked about this, and was told that it is the Japanese culture for family, even distant family, to care for women and children. Men are possibly too proud to accept care from family and therefore, try on their own.

As we were setting up, we felt a few rain drops. Oh no! I didn't want this service to be interrupted due to rain. A few of us said a quick prayer that the rain would hold off for these men to get what they needed, spiritually and physically. The rain held off until the very moment we finished up, then it was a DOWNPOUR with thunder and howling wind! You can't see the rain in this picture, but it was coming down!

This is the wonderful pastor of this Japanese church. What an amazing ministry! He also said that in 14 years of doing this (four times per week), weather has never stopped them from serving these men. Not even once. There is no doubt that God has had a hand in that!

We felt so blessed to be a part of this and the girls would like to serve again. Afterwards Ella said "I like working".

May 6, 2014

Inokashira Koen, and a hidden gem!

Today we headed back to the fun neighborhood of Kichijoji, to the Inokashira Park. This is the bike parking at the train station and it goes on forever. There are similar bike lots all over Tokyo, even bike parking garages!

The park was a beautiful green oasis in the city. It still amazes me how much green you can find in the largest city in the world. This was such a beautiful spring day too, just absolutely perfect weather!

We happened upon a tiny zoo in this park, truly a hidden gem. Children were free and I paid only Y300 ($3.00) for myself. Such a bargain! There was a small bird aviary, aquarium, and some native to Japan animals.

There were also little stamp stations around the grounds that you could collect. The girls loved this.

But, the hands down favorite attraction was the guinea pig petting area. There was a large bin full of guinea pigs and you could choose one to hold.

They didn't want to leave!

Two little animals!

At the back of the zoo was a tiny amusement park area, each ride cost Y100 ($1), still an amazing deal for Tokyo.

There was also an enclosed cage that you could walk into, with Japanese squirrels. They were running around all over the place and so fun to watch.

Also, lots of nice exhibits, but language was a problem for us.

Next we came to the play area. Yes, the seesaw is alive and well in Japan, danger and all!

After the zoo, we continued to walk the grounds of the park.

And there seems to always be a shrine. The red color is so vibrant and beautiful!


Hanging out at the koi pond.

The girls were desperate to rent a swan boat. Maybe next time.

This guy was doing magic tricks, so we stopped to watch on the walk back to the train station.

We rode home in the first car of the train. It was interesting to watch the driver, and see the view from the front window.

A very enjoyable, (and cheap) adventure for this lovely spring day!