I hope you all had a good weekend! We finally got out and about and did some sight-seeing over the weekend! We started our weekend with a trip to Yokohama on Friday night. A group of us took the train to Yokohama for dinner at El Torito. They have the same menu as in the States and it was a great meal after two weeks of Japanese food :)
My strawberry margarita
To get to El Torito, we never even went outside. We arrived in the station and took a myriad of tunnels over to the Yokohama Sky Tower (which may or may not be the tallest building in Japan, according to my online research). El Torito was on the 28th floor of the building and had a great view of Yokohama. I wish I would have taken a picture!
There was a Louis Vuitton IN the train station ... that should tell you how big it was!
After dinner we walked around for a bit and then went to The Tavern, an English Pub, for some drinks before taking the train back to Ayase-shi.
The entrance to The Tavern
The main street in Yokohama
The front gate of the base is about a 20 minute walk from the train station, so we stopped off at a dive bar along the way. I really wish I would have taken a picture of Bar Skunk, but I don't think it's going anywhere, so next time!
Saturday, we got up and headed to Yokota Air Force Base. Their Officers Spouses Club was hosting an Asian Bazaar and we wanted to check it out. Yokota is the base that we arrived at when we got to Japan and it had taken us about two hours to get to Atsugi. However, we were hoping that since it was the weekend traffic wouldn't be as bad. Nope ... it still took us two hours to get there. And the weather was terrible ... it was raining and very windy. I thought that Suzy might actually blow over at one point. Anyways, we arrived at the gate and were told we needed a one day pass to get our car on the base. And in order to get that pass, we needed to have ALL of our car's information which we did not have. Luckily, another couple from our squadron was headed up to the same bazaar and they drive a giant van. So we went out to find some off base parking and await their arrival. We crammed six adults and three children into their van and made it to the bazaar! We found a few pieces of furniture that we liked, but it was our first bazaar so we weren't sure if we were getting a good deal. We decided to wait on the furniture, but I got a set of three Santa Kokeshi dolls.
We then drove around the base and, let me tell you, Yokota is SO much nicer than our base. Their commissary is huge, their exchange is more like a department store and they have a Chili's restaurant. I can't tell you the last time I ate at Chili's in the states, but it was oh so good! We had a quick dinner and then did some shopping before heading back home for the evening.
Our amazing dessert at Chili's ... YUM!
Sunday we got up and headed to Kawasaki for their annual fertility festival. Most of the cities around us have been having fertility festivals the past couple of weekends. The festival we attended was called the Kanamara Matsuri and was held at the Kanayama shrine. It is held the first Sunday in April each year. The history behind this festival is very interesting - prostitutes used to come to this shrine to pray for protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Now, people come to pray for business prosperity, easy deliveries, marriage and marriage harmony. I prayed for marital harmony as I don't want any kids any time soon :)
The festival has turned into a tourist attraction and was pretty hilarious. I will let my pictures speak for themselves:
The festival celebrates the penis
The Kamayana Shrine
Bag-O and J. with some local girls enjoying their penis pops ...
Bag-O getting iced ...
The man on the far right was REALLY enjoying his penis pop ...
Part of the parade
The man in blue dragged M.A. out into the parade!
She was a good sport and helped carry the float
The giant pink penis
Now do you see why this festival was hilarious?
Creepy Batman wearing nothing but a thong ...
Once the parade was over we walked around the town and discovered this little hidden street:
It was lined with people selling food and trinkets
We tried a bun with bean curd in the middle ... tasty.
And then bought a fun souvenir :)
Bag-O with his treats ...
Then we visited the Kawasaki Daishi Buddhist Temple. Apparently this is one of the largest temples in the greater Tokyo area and is popular among the locals to pray at midnight on New Year's Eve.
The main temple
First you go up to this fire and cleanse yourself with smoke. You waft the smoke towards whatever area of your body that you want cleansed or healed.
Then you go into the temple and pray and toss a coin into the offering plate (expect it's not a plate, it's a giant vat).
The five tiered pagoda at the temple grounds
They had lots of little street vendors selling food ... we tried some of these noodles!
After we all had some street food, we ventured back to the train station and began our journey home! The train system hasn't been too hard to figure out yet and we've got a very handy app on our phones called "Hyperdia." It has the train station in English and will also tell you what train lines to take to get somewhere!