Monday, February 29, 2016

Fantastic Fukuoka

After last year's unexpected blessing of numerous overseas trips, the day after Christmas saw an airline seat sale and had us booking tickets to another new destination, Fukuoka. With two other couples and three additional friends tagging along, there were nine of us going in all, in the last weekend of February.

Knowing very little about this city but loving Japan, even in the winter, off we went.

To our delight, the coastal town was much larger and more cosmopolitan than any of us expected. We spent the long weekend on a ramen eating binge, mainly, and doing a little shopping.

My favorite part of the trip came on the second day, when three of us took a local bus trip to an outlet mall by the water. Not only did we eat the freshest sushi I've ever had, but on the way back the bus made one of its usual stops, which happened to be located outside a primary school. About half a dozen children between ages 8 and 12 got on, looking like a cross between Madeline's friends and the Von Trapp children in their uniforms.

The students quietly found places to sit or stand, and, as we entered the city, one by one left the bus at their own stops and from there made their way home alone on foot. Not one parent met a child at a bus stop. This is something I had never experienced before, and it made me marvel anew at the cultural wonder that I have found Japan to be.

While we have yet to take Little A to visit this amazing country, we definitely will do so, and hope he comes to love it as much as we already do.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pet Day

This year, Little A's school celebrated Pet Day. For an animal lover like my son, an event such as this was miles better than Santa coming at Christmas.

In the course of his youTube video watching over the last few months, he managed to come across one-time cooking show host Rachel Ray's human interest programme, particularly the episodes featuring animals. Now a favourite on his playlist, my son has shown me that one blind lady in the USA has not the usual seeing eye dog but a guide horse called Panda, a Shetland Pony.

On findining out that a Shetland pony would be part of the animal interaction opportunities at Pet Day, Little A was all the more excited. 

Before meeting and greeting the other animals though, the schoolchildren got to play with some therapy dogs. Their trainer was a neighbour of ours, and Little A was familiar with her dogs, but I was pleased to see him feeding another dog a piece of carrot, a first for him in terms of animal interaction.

The pony was the last animal in the petting parade, and each child was encouraged to sit on its back for a photo. I had to correct the teachers whokept telling the children they could "ride" the animal by announcing to Little A that he would only sit on it for a few seconds, as riding meant going from point A to B on the horse's back, which was certainly not on the agenda. 

My son had other ideas, naturally. After hanging back so he was the last pupil in his class to be photographed astride the pony, he mounted it again by himself and gently tapped the horse's sides with his heels to try and move it forward. The pony complied, but I quickly said that it wasn't allowed and that had to hop off quickly, which he did. Promises of properly going riding soon satisfied him, but come dismissal time he raced back to the playground to see his new friend only to find it had gone. Perhaps he will see it again next year.