Last Friday registered the offspring at the 'Murican govmint so the little sprout can have the benefits of dual American-Japanese citizenship. The benefit being primarily travel without a visa between the two and a lifetime supply of hi-end electronic goods supported by a robust military infrastructure. As well as an appreciation for uniforms.
But to get all this first she needs a passport (her passport photo is much cuter than mine) and that means a trip into the big mikan, the big orange, Tokyo.
So first we had to take the Tokaido line in, about a 45 minute ride to Shibuya station to switch to the Ginza subway line. For New Yorkers reading this, think the Metro-North line to Grand Central.
On the Ginza subway headed to the area of town the American Consulate is located.
Surprisingly, the Consulate staff was nothing but friendly and helpful. I guess living in Japan has rubbed off on them and they feel relaxed enough to crack a smile. All my previous dealing with civil servants back in the States had usually been anything but... civil that is. The DMV comes to mind.
But all was not cheesecake and flowers. Seems there's a disconnect with how my last name, "McKible" is written on official US documents and how it's recognized on Japanese ones. The protocol in the States is to indicate a capitalized letter in the middle of a name, like the capital K in McKible, by inserting a space before the capitalized letter. So on my US passport my last name is written as "MC KIBLE". While this protocol is understood in the States, here it renders our last name as composed of 2 words, like "Van Halen". Cool, but not my name. So Nico's passport, and therefore all her official documents, would list her US name the same way. The staff told me if I could produce another official document, like my birth certificate, with a version of my last name as ONE word, I could amend my passport and have Nico's listed the same way. As it turns out I DO have a copy of my birth certificate. So tomorrow I head back to get it all squared away. Might seem like I'm being a stickler for details, but I'd really like us all the have the same last name.
Official status established, back on the subway and then it was time for a little shopping. Here's Nico's big debut on Ginza Dori, kinda like 5th Ave back in NYC, fancy hi-end shopping. There's an Apple store located there and as my 3rd generation iPod turned into a shiny brick recently I took this opportunity to pick myself up a new iPod Nano. Sweet little thing, indeed. Nice iPod too.
Nico woke up long enough to see a bit of the lights. She was SO good during the trip, not cranky at all.
Then it was time to get back on the train and head back home after a long day; secure in the knowledge that a lifetime supply of fresh fish and government issued cheese is all but guaranteed.
It was a lovely, autumnal day today so we headed down to the beach for a stroll and some photo opportunities. The day cooperated nicely. A cloudless sky afforded for some great scenery. In fact, Mt. Fuji can be seen in the background of most of these. And of course, the models were stellar.
I'd like to think that lil' Nico is smiling 'cause something's tickling her fancy... but it's probably just gas. At least that's the accepted wisdom. Actually, there's a term for it here, kani warai, or crab smile. It comes from the fact that the underside of a crab's carpace resembles a smile. The term is meant to imply the automatic, reflexive kinds of smiles babies have at this stage.
But even if it's just an autonomic impulse, it's still damn cute. Can't wait for the "real" thing.
A few days ago we took a stroll to a new café, Veru 101, that opened here in Tsujido. It's a lovely place, very stylish interior, but with a nice, relaxed atmosphere and a good selection of items on the menu.
Nico did her thing and slept soundly through most of it.
She did agree to pose with mom for a few dramatic examples the play light shadow, with Miyuki doing her best Madonna (of Mary and Jesus fame, not "Like a Virgin") pose.
Here looking slightly less Gothic.
We liked it so much, and since yesterday the weather here was so lovely, we decided to go back. Along the way we came across this archaic egg vending machine. It was a bit of a surprise to come across this around here. In the country they're not so uncommon, but where we are now, I imagine it's a bit of a haul to the nearest live chicken (or maybe not.. who knows).
Another nice feature of the café is that there's an outdoor seating area good for pets. The cafe even provides water for the pooches. Tito was a happy dog.
Nico says "Banzai!" to that.
Then got down to the business of feeding.
What a cutie.
On the way back, feeling in a contemplative, all-is-well-with-the world mood, we spied a few more little interesting details around the 'hood. We came across a wall sprouting plants.
And this little bamboo sprout was pushing it's way up through asphalt.
This weekend we did Nico's first month birthday party, part 2. Kiyomi and Takashi set a nice spread of temaki sushi, or hand rolled sushi, and we went to town.
Fresh and yummy.
Eh? What's that you say? Hungry?
Oi! I'm not on the menu!
Sushi... not baby. I'm all tuckered out, where's my meal?
Sorry for the corny narrative, but my brain (and drawing hand) has been overworked this past week. Luckily there's a light at the end of the tunnel. A light in the shape of..... uhm... not working? does that have a shape? OK, no light but a stretch of free time.
And now in completely Nico-unrelated news... it seems my couple of snarkyobservations on Sukyo Mahikari, the new-agey religion/cult with it's worldwide headquarters based in our hometown of Takayama, just keeps on keeping on. Not only do they keep generating comments (33 at last count... for a dinky site like this one, that's HUGE) but now I've been cited as reference (hah!).
Now if you've already clicked the last link above (reference) you'll see that the first several links posted on that page are in Hebrew. Seems Mahikari is now causing a bit of ruckus in my other "hometown" of Israel. They recently funded the opening of a Japanese Cultural Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which has caused a furor among several of the professors there. Seems Mahikari has an anti-semitic bent and subscribe to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as part of their core beliefs. Ah, what transcendent weirdness abounds.
But just in case I've given you the impression that I value one religion more highly than another, let me just categorically state that I think all of it's bunk. There is profound wonder to be found in this world, and that's exactly from whence it arrives... this world. Here's an article I read recently that, while I don't think it fully explains things, makes for an interesting read.
mckible (aka "mckibillo") in nihon...
Hence "mckib in nihon" (go figure), where I'll strive to provide the occasional, piquant observation on the life of a gaijin in the mountains of Japan.
Since November 2004, adding to an already crowded field of ex-pat observation.
is Josh McKible. I'm an illustrator living and working in Kanagawa, Japan. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, GQ and many other publications. For more information please visit my portfolio site. For commissions, collaborations or just to say "hi" please email me. Thanks.