Kitten is OK again!

After some more visits to the vet, changing eye drops, trying to hunt down those eye drops in several pharmacies (island life!) and then administering said eye drops to the kitten every 2 hours … her eyes are all cleared up and the vet announced her A.OK. today.

She also had a pretty good theory what had happened: could be a side effect from the TriCat vaccination Kitten had just before the winter break.

All well, for now, let’s see. We have to go again in a few days for booster shot, again in February for the last one, and then around April Pepper is old enough for ‘the procedure’ …

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Sleepy Cat

This is our most active breakfast / dining table … and Cinnamon is very aware that she is not allowed on it.

But this time somehow, she was sleeping so deeply, she did not even open her eyes when I started taking pictures …

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Saturday Morning Long Run

So far I am sticking to my new running schedule and get a bit over 100K in per week.

After taking Fridays off, I have enough power for a longer than HM run, eventually I want to get that to 30-32K, but it was getting kinda warm towards the end, since I started a bit later than I had planned.

But this way I ran into a bunch of TCC people training for the upcoming Ironman.

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Good Morning දොන් ස්ටීවන් සේනානායක!

Today is my no-run day, but I still pass Independence Square on the way to the gym (where I go for cross training 😉 ) and I took this wonderful photo of the sunrise.

Later I got the question from a dear long time reader (Hi, Tammy!)  as to ‘who is that statue off’? And I had no idea, so I did some googling!

This is Don Stephen Senanayake.

He was the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka having emerged as the leader of the Sri Lankan independence movement that led to the establishment of self-rule in Sri Lanka. He is considered as the “Father of the Nation”. (from Wiki)

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Double Run Fun (Day & Night)

Today played out a bit differently.

Due to various circumstances I had to drive Julius to school today.

Once there I decided to take the opportunity to do some more running that area and explore / rediscover the ‘hill’ route I had only done once before with CCR.

But that raked in only 15K and my goal for Thursdays is 20, but I knew that there was still the CNR night run happening and I happily attended.

This is always a fun, albeit short, group run in the dark. One road was especially dark this time around, as the street lights were not working at all.

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Julius’ Artwork

One of Julius’ xmas presents was a digital drawing tablet, something he had pretty specifically wished for.

This way he can now get his doodles into his computer environment to pretty up for publication



Feel free to follow him on Instagram






It is always fun to see what else he comes up with, and how via his class mates’ comments I find out that he does some of the doodling in school it seems 😉

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Tuesday HM

Though I did some running yesterday already, getting a feel for the very different climate, today I wanted to see if I can continue my new found affection for casual half marathons. In this ‘heat’ :)

Good thing is that in January the temperature is a balmy 26˚C-31˚C during the morning hours I get to run. So I took off and actually tried to explore some streets in Slave Island that used to be closed for major construction, and looked a bit more open now …

Alas, they were not all the way open yet, had to track back a bit, along those parking tuktuks and gawking construction workers.

While the heat was not an issue this morning, the air quality sure was: the smell of burnt plastic and rotting trash combined with general engine exhaust … not pleasant.

Here’s a fun scene I discovered later in the background of one of my shots: Those police cadets working out on Galle Face green in the sunrise …

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Cloudy Eyes

It wouldn’t be a Happy New Year if there was not some cat-health issue making me go straight to the vet on the first day back.

Somehow our new kitten ‘Pepper’ (yes, we are re-doing the Spice Girls!) got cloudy eyes over the winter break and thus far the tests at the vet are inconclusive.

We are treating with eye drops, an initial blood test came back with ‘nothing’s wrong’ and we are going to see if the drops make things better and will see an eye specialist on Wednesday …

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Long Trip Home

The day has come again that we have to go back home and things unfolded pretty much as usual: Leave house at 6AM, get on the train to Shinjuku, then drag everything to the Marunouchi line and get to Ginza.

There catch the 7:20AM bus (though we had planned for 7:40, but everything went butter smooth) to Narita and then take some last pretty photos of the sky tree.

No trouble at check in at all, luggage all within limits (that never happens when coming from Germany!) and ample time to walk around and explore some of the food & shopping areas BEFORE the security check.

How uncanny, we caught an Eevee on the Eevee shelf at the Pokemon store :)

We soon passed security, I spent the time walking 2 miles up and down the corridors to get my daily step count in.

And soon we were boarding and getting our first glimpses of SL culture again.

The flight was loooong & a day flight, no real chance for sleeping. But food was nice and the movie selection was ample.

By sunset time we approached CMB, all our luggage was there and soon we were home to find both our cats alive and getting along!

Posted in Cats, Japan 12/18, Julius, Travel | 5 Comments

Full Marathon under 4h

This is what I had been working towards with all those long runs: trying to do a full marathon just before we leave.

The weather was nearly perfect today (a bit chilly the first 2h, but at least not brutally windy) and my new Salomon running backpack was well stocked with 4 bananas & 1 liter of electrolyte drink (plus a set of dry clothing).

I had run most of that route before but got adventurous just before the 30km mark and actually crossed the river, thinking there would be an equally nice return path on the other side, which turned out to be a false assumption. I had to track back a bit and cross the river again and then I just went down and up again, calculating my end point to be close to the train station.

While I did not push for speed, I was really hoping to get in under 4h and kept my pace accordingly below 5:41 min/km (in the end my average was 5:33 min/km)

I munched a banana around each 10km, while running and sipped drink as needed. At no point I ever felt I had a cramp coming on and my heart rate kept feeling ok.

Once I finished the 42.2km I immediately started a rigorous stretching routine which saved me from sore muscles. And since it was overall pretty dry & relatively warm by then, I did not even have to change into my dry clothes. I just walked to the train station and went back home where a hot bath further helped with recovery.

This is what I wanted that marathon in Singapore to be, but the difference in temperature creates very different results. I think from now on I will submit my application for the Tokyo Marathon lottery every year and hope to one day some March in the future I will run it.

The rest of the day was napping, packing and a very tasty yakiniku dinner with Obachan.

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Hatsumode 2019 – Shogun Burger in Shinjuku (public version)

Like the years before, we took the train to Eifukuchu to meet up with Utako and go for Hatsumode. I am always amazed to see how well Julius blends in on the train.

Since I had already done a quick’n’easy 10K before we left, I did not run to the temple, unlike I did last year.

The big New Year’s masses had already subsided and the shopping / food mile looked borderline deserted, but we still enjoyed our box of takoyaki like we always do.

New this time was that we were made aware of a ‘holy rock’ shaped like a frog (?). With its likeness sold on Baumkuchen and such. So, this time we checked it out, gave it a touch and I am still wondering how this is supposed to resemble a frog …

We were still somewhat hungry and recalled a burger place in Shinjuku that our friend Patrick had written about.

Shogun Burger in Shinjuku. Located in the ‘red light district’, which I actually never really got to walk around in (until today) [ya ya, sure, we believe you …]

This was actually quite nice, they really know how to do burgers and use 100% Wagyu beef. Delicious!

I read somewhere that they are affiliated with a Wagyu steak house and from there get odds & ends cut off pieces which they further hand-dice to make their patties. But they also offer a great looking pork / avocado burger as well as a vegetarian burger.

After lunch (and it was getting late, the early winter sunset fast approaching), I wanted to walk around a bit more to check out the fantastic sights of this area (Like this <— over there, is a karaoke bar!)

This is also home to the fabled Robot Restaurants (and the signage is hilarious) as well as mellow, small (and still closed up) drinking streets.

Posted in Food, Japan 12/18, Julius, Travel | Leave a comment

Fugu Dinner

Julius has shown interest in eating Fugu for a while now. The stories of the deadly toxic pufferfish must have been fascinating for him.

And on the special occasion of celebrating Obachan’s birthday, we found a place in our area and went for a multi course dinner.

Yep, it’s that famous blowfish for which “The restaurant preparation of fugu is strictly controlled by law in Japan and several other countries, and only chefs who have qualified after three or more years of rigorous training are allowed to prepare the fish.”

The seating arrangement was a bit awkward, as it seems they are only used to groups of 4 or multiples (like that group of 3 table spanning drunk guys behind that curtain)

Five people is very tricky to accommodate, so we ended up getting 2 tables and our young waitress lady bravely pulled double duty with the whole show & tell & prepare.

The young man enjoyed sitting with his grandparents while R & I had a table to ourselves.

Shortly after settling in the food was being served: First a salad of strips of fugu skin with greens and lots of ponzu, followed by very thinly sliced, translucent slices of raw fugu sashimi. Then some pieces of deep fried fugu, easily a favorite, but that goes for pretty much anything deep fried 😉

The big event was the chirinabe, hot pot with big chunks of fugu & vegetables. Delicious, but lots of bones to work around.

And for the final course the leftover (now fugu flavored) broth was used to prepare an egg / rice dish, which was fun to observe (e.g. how delicately the waitress lady measured the amount of salt added) and very tasty to eat. Initially I thought there was no way we would finish this, but in the end, we did.

Oh, and there was a scoop of nut ice cream for dessert.

So, as to the fugu flavor … I can’t say that my taste buds could tell apart fugu from other white fish in a blind taste test. It sure was tasty and had a very special feel to it (maybe with a hint of ‘danger’, as we kept hearing trays with plates shattering on the ground three times and were wondering if any patrons just got paralyzed by the tetrodotoxin).

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After my morning run, which rather spontaneously turned into my second half marathon this year, we set off for our second visit to Sei-Ya for an early-ish ramen lunch.

This time, counter seating, I was actually even more impressed with this shio-tonkotsu ramen. Maybe the chef noticed that last time we took pictures so this time he arranged everything a bit nicer. And I got to add copious amounts of extra garlic, ginger and spicy miso.

Thus wonderfully fed, we then took a train to Ginza, where J&R explored Itoya, a 2 building stationary store, while I walked around, not really finding anything, hence there is only this ONE picture of the whole excursion.

We split up again and regrouped several times, overall a long day with lots of walking and for the first time we managed to buy disposable contact lenses in Japan, after me, the foreigner, signs a form that I would use those at my own risk (in the years before they always wanted a doctor’s prescription).

Finally we take the train back to Chitose where we meet the parents-in-law for a special fugu (blowfish) dinner, which I will talk about in a separate post.

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Hike Mt. Ōyama

Second hike of this trip, something we had already in mind last year: Mt. Ōyama

A bit further away than our usual Mt. Takao. Took bus, train then a pretty full bus again:

Until we were cramped (in very well organized, typical Japanese style) into a pretty steep cable car (actually I would call that a funicular, a cable car for me travels under a cable … but what do I know) which brought us to a big temple, where we lined up again for our first round of New Year’s prayers.

I think overall we got quite lucky with the crowds, we had anticipated it would be much worse, but we got an early start it seems.

Then the actual hike started for real, and while Julius was a very vigorous mountain goat for maybe the first 10 minutes, the teenager in him then took over and he had to pause / sit down / “I am not feeling well” many many times.

Along the way we were rewarded with amazing views over Tokyo bay:

But the closer we got to the top, the colder it became, and the young man got more and more tired.

What is supposed to take 90 minutes took us a bit more than 2h and by the time we got up there, the side where on rare occasions Mt. Fuji can be spotted was all cloudy.


There are some pretty shrine / temple leftovers on top of the mountain.

Unsurprisingly, the way down was easier, Julius’ spirits seem lifted (though he still tried to rest as often as possible)

The way down is a different trail then up, but also ends at the temple / cable car station. And while J&R took the easy way down, I was not in the mood for lining up again and instead ‘ran’ down the Otoko-Zaka Trail (men’s trail, while the easier one is the Onna-Zaka = ladies’ trail) , which is supposed to take 25 minutes, but I did it in 14.

Since it is 80% steep rock steps, one can’t really run this, more like a very careful ‘make haste’.

What a wonderful hike! Would love to do it again, but somehow make sure that Julius is mentally better prepared.

We were all tired, hopped on the train back and arrived back home much later than initially planed.

Obachan was waiting with a wonderful dinner for us (chirashi sushi).

There are many more family pictures of this beautiful (cold) hike which I will publish eventually in a second, protected post, once I am done with the backlog.

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The Boys take Shibuya!

Inspired by this morning’s run, seeing that some shops are open despite it being January 1st, I motivated Julius to come with me and go explore.

We took the train this time, and here is another wonderful, very ‘Tokyo’ moment:

Beautiful, blue skies when we arrived and checked out the famous Shibuya scramble.

On our last trip, back in April, I had seen that Don Quijote (a famous Japanese odds / ends / everything cheaper store) had opened a new flag ship store here, called MEGA Donki.

And now it was time to explore this with the young man.

We always find cool and bizarre things, like this line of massage / recovery tools (or simply a back scratcher), but sold as ‘sinful’ devil’s toys. How strange!

And of course Julius had to get heaps of special candy.

We continued exploring, popping our heads into the myriads of gaming parlors, admiring the beautiful posters and street art (in this case anime advertisement).

Very colorful.

Then we noticed a new looking, fancy fashion store: Bershka. Never heard of this one before, but it was in full sales swing and I wanted to check it out.

Time for me to goof around and try on crazy things.

Does anybody agree  that I was born to rock this faux leopard print coat?

It felt so nice, and Japanese M size fit me!

After a quick check in with wife-y dearest and a very clear ‘NO’ response, I did not buy it …

One last thing that Julius wanted to do was get a special toy at a ‘Gatcha’ machine, one of the many ‘random’ toy vending machines.

You get an idea of what you are getting, like one out of 6 figurines of a special thematic line, but no guarantee WHICH one you get.

So, Julius has his strategy that he only goes for it if he’d be ok with any of the advertised items.

What a great day out. As a reward I let the teenager clean the bath tub today :)

Every three days or so we exchange the water in the tub (unlike western bath routine, where a full load of water is wasted for each bath!) and in between it needs a good scrub.

And Julius is a perfect fit. Gotta earn his keep!


And for dinner we had Ojichan’s special cooked new year’s vegetables!

Posted in Food, Japan 12/18, Julius, Travel | 2 Comments