Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cherry Blossom Time!

Yesterday was special. We went to San Francisco to Japan Town to join in the yearly Cherry Blossom festivities! It was an adventure getting there because parking so horrific we decided to take the BART train then a bus. And since it had been such a long time, we couldn't remember the fares.

Let me tell you on a side note - it is EXPENSIVE just to get into the City. The train was $14 for two people round trip. Aidan got in for free but I think this may be the last year he can get away with it. Then the bus fare is now $2 per person, so that's $8 round trip, and again for now, Aidan rode for free. So let's see, just to get to Japan Town cost us $22. That's why we don't go to San Francisco very often. Hell, it wouldn't cost that much less to drive what with bridge tolls and parking meters, IF you can find a spot. OK rant over.
 When we arrived, it was lunch time and we went to Golf's favorite Japanese restaurant. I enjoyed Zaru Soba - a cold buckwheat noodle dish with dipping sauce and it came with five pieces of sushi that I shared with Golf and Aidan.

Aidan had his favorite gyoza and shrimp tempura. Golf had beef  mixed with egg and green onions over rice. Unfortunately I cannot think of the name of it! Top it all off with some delicious green tea and we were set to explore.

We walked around the displays and through the shops. Golf bought Aidan some red bean ice cream and while we ate it we watched the taiko drummers during the opening ceremony. Then we walked around some more in the shops and I bought some sublime smelling incense, which is more subtle and soft than traditional Indian incense that is more readily available.

After more meandering we went back to the main stage where we got to watch some traditional dancing, which was very lovely to see.  Later the karate demonstration would begin. That was the highlight for the boys since Aidan has been taking karate classes.

This dojo - or school - was quite good and far more serious about their training than what Aidan's class is about. His class is more like an introduction to karate. While Aidan has earned a yellow belt in his class (the next higher level than absolute beginning white belt), the yellow belts in this dojo were far more advanced.

And the teacher, sensai, had a clear, strong voice. I LOVED his voice as he counted out in Japanese and gave commands in Japanese that these American children responded to. It was extremely impressive. I'm looking forward to sending Aidan to a more serious school when we can come up with the money. I think he will be ready very soon.

There were lots of demonstrations both from beginning students and advanced. The teachers put on demonstrations as well with impressive fights and they also kicked through baseball bats and boards. The final showpiece though was when the master sensai karate chopped through oblong blocks of ice. The first was held vertically. Then he chopped through five layers of these "ice boards". Aidan was cheering with delight!

We were absolutely freezing though. The wind was fierce and we ended up sitting in the shade of the Peace Pagoda. Even with Aidan's thick coat his teeth were chattering. By then Aidan was pretty tired and we headed back. It was a full day and lots of fun.

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