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We hadn't gone back to Japan in December more than a few years and I'd forgotten how beautiful the Christmas illumination in Tokyo was. The first picture is the Takashimaya Times Square Building in Shinjuku. The following pictures were taken on the bridge and in the walkway in front of the building except for the last one that was taken in the famous "Hachiko-mae" Square in Shibuya.
We went to Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka in the Mt. Fuji area from December 30 to January 2. The weather was great every other day and I got to take a lot of good pictures of Mt. Fuji. I knew some of these would look like "postcard pictures" but I couldn't help clicking the shutter.
This is the festive food for the New Year ("osechi") that we had at the hotel on New Year's Day.
This is the traditional "osechi" food that we had at my sister's family's condo near Lake Yamanaka on January 2nd. (My brother-in-law loves fishing so much that they bought a condo there.)
One of the traditional New Year activities in Japan is "hatsumode" (first visit of the year to a shrine or temple). We went to the Sengen Temple near the hotel.
We went to the Music Box Museum that was built near the lake a few years ago. Hundreds (thousands) of music boxes (from tiny to huge) are displayed. There is a little fountain show on every hour.
There was a Bingo event at the hotel in the evening of January 1st. We bought five bingo cards (1,000 yen each. ($1 = 120 yen)) We had no idea we would go home with so many prizes.
My sister wins a teddy bear.
My father wins a "ParaSolar" halogen heater.
In the final round, my father wins tickets for two at a luxury hotel.
These are the all the prizes our family won. There were many other people at the event who didn't win anything and looked fairly bored... ;-)
There was a "mochi-tsuki" (pounding sticky rice cake) in the morning of the 2nd. The lady in the picture turns the rice cake in the mortar when the man swings up the pestle. After the mochi is pounded, it is served to the spectators.
This is the Fuji View Hotel where we stayed.
Sightseeing boat on Lake Yamanaka. Cute, funny, or weird?
This is the Gonpachi restaurant where President George W. Bush had dinner with Prime Minister Koizumi (seriously). It's actually a casual yakitori restaurant, not so fancy. The food was delicious.
We had a dinner in an Italian restaurant on the 35th floor of the new Marunouchi Building ("Maru Biru") next to the Tokyo Station. The view of Tokyo from the 35th floor was gorgeous.
Lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant with Risa's parents and brother.
Dinner at a French restaurant in Shinjuku
An "okonomiyaki" (Japanese pizza) dinner with my parents. It includes egg, flour, vegetable, pork, beef, squid, octopus, etc.
A dinner at a "kaiten" (revolving) sushi restaurant was much more affordable. Sushi is served on a belt conveyor. The prices (120 yen, 170 yen, 230 yen, etc.) are indicated by the color of the plate.
I saw a fully-automated cleaning robot being sold for 39,800 yen ($330).
I come home and there is a brand-new plasma flat high-definition TV above my mother's bed :)
Seen at a camera store in Shinjuku. This reminds me of something...