Ice Skating, Shopping, and an Important Bus Ride
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Speed Skater -- Kyoto, Japan --
Speed Skater

I brought Anthony skating today, to Kyoto's Aquarena, a big swimming complex that turns one of the pools into a skating rink during the winter. Surprisingly enough, they had my size skates to rent (size 32; for reference, most stores sell shoes only up to size 28), so I could join him.

I think it was the first time I went skating in 20+ years, but it was Anthony's third time, having gone two other times during school-type events. Like many city services, skating is free for him until he starts first grade, so I was happy to get one last freebie in before he starts school in a couple of weeks.

Action Shot -- Kyoto, Japan --
Action Shot
I apparently can't hold a cell phone level while skating backwards -- Kyoto, Japan --
I apparently can't hold a cell phone level while skating backwards
Aftermath of one of the occasional falls -- Kyoto, Japan --
of one of the occasional falls
Watching the Zamboni Go By he's standing up against the glass at the far right -- Kyoto, Japan --
Watching the Zamboni Go By
he's standing up against the glass at the far right

After a few hours, we headed out to finally pick up a present for his cousin Josh who turns three in a few days. It's been on my mind for ages, but I'd had a cold for so long. Anthony helped me pick out the perfect present. Josh doesn't read Japanese, but I suspect he'll figure it out....

Perfect the note at bottom left says “ages 3 and up” -- Kyoto, Japan --
the note at bottom left says “ages 3 and up”

We then headed home to put it into the mail. (Well, actually, we headed home to box it up and then out to the post office to mail it. In Japan, you receive mail at home, but the mailman does not pick it up, so you have to bring to a mailbox or one of the many post offices around town.)

Then we had a bit of an adventure. Once he starts first grade, Anthony's commute to and from school will be the city bus. Luckily, there's one bus that brings him from near our place to within a 10-minute walk to the school, so he doesn't have to worry about transferring. It's a 30-minute ride, with 20 stops in between.

We all practiced once this weekend, showing him where to get off and where to get on, but today he went by himself.

Sort of.

He rode the bus by himself, but I followed behind on my scooter, to be there whenever he got off. He could get off if he became worried, or if he thought it was his stop, or if he thought he'd passed his stop. In any case, I'd be there, so there was little worry.

It turns out that he was able to recognize his stop, but in the excitement(?) didn't know which button to press to alert the driver he wanted out. It just so happened that no one else wanted that stop, and no one was waiting to board, so the driver just drove past. Luckily, the next stop is extremely close (about a two-minute walk), so he got off there with a “man, I almost had it” look on his face. If he was 40 years older, he'd have said “Missed it by that much!”

He wanted to try it again for the return trip. He knows our area, so I didn't worry that he'd be able to recognize the stop, but even though the return bus is mostly empty when he boards nears school, it is generally packed like a Tokyo subway when it gets near our place on its way to Kyoto Station. Really, really packed. So, I was a bit worried that he'd not be able to physically move to the front to exit. We've emphasized that he needs to take advantage of the relative emptiness when he boards to get a seat near the front, near the driver, and that's what he did, and so he popped out at our stop as if he'd been riding that route every day of his life.

Fumie and I were very proud.

He wants to try it again all by himself tomorrow, but I don't think Fumie and I are quite ready for that.

All 8 comments so far, oldest first...

I remember from the last time my wife and I were in Kyoto being impressed at all the elementary school kids taking the subway by themselves in the morning – in San Diego, you’d never see that, but I think people here are more paranoid (although probably with some justification, since the crime rate here is a lot higher than Japan).

— comment by brian on March 26th, 2009 at 12:55am JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

How exciting for Anthony. I understand your trepidation, though. I suspect it would be easier for you as parents if it was only a school bus, as you yourself rode every day here in Ohio. Did Fumie take the city bus when she was going to school? If so she would probably be less worried than you. I remember how my sisters and I walked so many city blocks (it seemed like a hundred, but in actuality only 12 or 14) to and from school. (That was also in San Diego, Brian. Did you know that Jeff and two older brothers were born at Mercy Hospital there?) Jeff.,will Anthony wear a uniform to school?

— comment by Grandma Friedl on March 26th, 2009 at 5:55am JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Good work, Anthony! Your Dad is right to be proud of a big fella like you riding one of the busier mass transit systems in the world.

And good work on Dad’s part as well. 🙂

— comment by Chris on March 26th, 2009 at 5:56am JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Anthony skating – cool.
Anthony taking the bus on his own – very cool. Good for you, kid.
A drum set for a three year old? A drum set for *MY* three year old? AAAAAAAAAaaaaarg! What did I ever do to you! Wait – don’t answer that. 🙂

You know, the mail delivery here in Memphis is about to become veeeery unreliable.

— comment by Marcina on March 26th, 2009 at 11:16am JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Did you shoot these photos with your iPhone? Its interesting to see the difference between the D700 and your cell phone camera. On the one extreme you have vast options (maybe so many that it can be stifling) and then on the other you have an extremely limited set of tools.

And yet some of the shots people have taken with their cellphones are remarkable. -Then again the camera on the iphone is impressive compared to other cellphone cameras. If you don’t mind my asking, what are your thoughts on a knock around camera? That is, do you ever feel like leaving the big iron home and opting for the Derringer?

Well, that was the case when skating. I didn’t want to have to pay attention to the big camera (and I didn’t want to fall on it), so I didn’t bring it. We also have a small point-n-shoot, but I didn’t bring that either because I wanted to be more present in the experience, which is more difficult if I’m being a photographer. So, I just opted for a few snapshots with the camera phone. The iPhone camera, like most (all?) on cell phones, is frustration incarnate. It takes 5-10 seconds after invoking the camera function before it’s ready to take a picture. Inexplicably, it takes a picture when you release the shutter button, not when you press it, and even then, it delays by some indeterminate amount designed to ensure that you miss the shot. But, it’s slightly better than nothing, and so I use it occasionally. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ron Evans on March 26th, 2009 at 12:31pm JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Ahhh! What an adventure to Anthony! I don’t think My son will ever do that at that age, specially whit a mother so paranoid like me, poor son of me!

Griselda, Arlington, Tx

— comment by Griselda Nishikatsu on March 27th, 2009 at 9:13am JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Have you made that appointment to have the GPS chip implanted in Anthony’s butt yet?

No, I don’t see the need. The one in his head should suffice, and get better satellite reception anyway. —Jeffrey

— comment by Zachary on March 28th, 2009 at 8:01am JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Another great place to go to is Kidzania. The one close to Kobe (Koshien) opened recently. I think Anthony would enjoy it. I hear that it booked up until the summer though.

— comment by Ian Cheung on March 30th, 2009 at 1:22pm JST (15 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink
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