Victory Dinner

During the visit to the zoo, I received several texts from my friend. Her sister was playing in the Final of the Kangaroo Cup against Kimiko Date-Krumm. There were some tense texts but Tammy won! This made our short vacation even better. The only time I had met my friend’s sister was when she was playing Wimbledon in 1999. I was eight months’ pregnant and had just come off a plane. (Shouldn’t have been flying. Oops!) The conversation went like this: “Hi. Nice to meet you. I need to go to bed now.” But this time, it was wonderful to have dinner and celebrate Tammy’s victory. And I was nicer this time and left a lovely lipstick mark on Tammy’s face. Must have been the Black Cow sake I was drinking…

We went to a tempura restaurant. It was the best tempura I have ever eaten. There was sashimi to congratulate Tammy, and lovely cakes and champagne from the president and staff of the Portopia Hotel. What a great last night in Kobe!


Have you ever seen a panda?

I saw my first panda earlier this month! Of course, I had seen them on TV or in books but never in real life. The queue to see them was very long. British people and Japanese people love to queue! We do it very well! It was a very hot day but the wait was worth it. We saw the panda eating bamboo shoots, rolling around, and lying on his back.

The other animal I had never seen before was a koala. They look so cute but when you see them up close you can see their sharp claws.



After the zoo, we went to the amusement park beside it. I hate amusement parks. They are too busy for me. But I did enjoy the Big Wheel. We got a great view of Kobe from the top.

Golden Week vacation

There are several national holidays during the first few days of May in Japan. This break is called Golden Week. This year the holidays fell on Saturday and Sunday so we only got 4 days in a row. Some years you can take one day off work and end up with a 9-day holiday.

On Saturday, we drove to Kobe. We were a little late setting off because my good friend Jim from Australia and his cousin from England arrived just as we were planning to go. But we were so glad to see them. 

The drive to Kobe took about six hours. A student in my English Workshop class said that it would take four hours. I can only wonder how fast he drives!

We arrived late afternoon. There was no point going to a museum so we went to IKEA instead.


I love IKEA. When the first one opened in Scotland eight years ago, I went with my sister and we spent about eight hours there with our two small babies. Well, that small baby is now 8-years-old and he and his sisters really enjoyed looking at the kids’ furniture in IKEA. Even my husband enjoyed shopping there. He is an art teacher and  he says that going to IKEA is like going to a design museum. There is also an IKEA train and bus decorated in IKEA fabrics!

But IKEA in Kobe was so busy. I couldn’t believe how many people wanted to go there. I’m glad we went so late. I bought new sheets, towels, cutlery, some toys, ice cube trays, cushions, and some garden stuff. 

Then we met up with my dear friend. We have known each other for 17 years! Now she works at the Portopia Hotel in Kobe. It is a great hotel and if you ever visit Kobe you should try their restaurants. After a wonderful dinner, we went back to her apartment and the kids got into their sleeping bags. They thought it was great to go camping indoors! 

Thanks for letting us stay.

Miyajima, UN World Heritage Site

On 29 April my family went to Miyajima.It is a small island near Hiroshima. It takes about 90 minutes by car from our house. We took the ferry to the island. You get a great view of the giant red gate which stands in the sea in front of the famous shrine. (This is the gate on the Hiroshima Starbucks mug!)

Be careful of the deer. They eat anything and they will try to steal your bag, if they think it contains food.


First of all we had lunch at an okonomiyaki restaurant. Hiroshima is famous for its okonomiyaki, a  mix of egg, flour, seafood, and pork. You can choose the toppings so some people call it Japanese pizza but it is nothing like pizza.

After that we walked to the famous shrine and saw the giant gate in the sea. The tide was out. So the gate didn’t look as spectacular as it does when it seems to be floating in the water.

Then we walked through the maple park and took the cable cars up to the top of the highest peak. The views were incredible. My kids really enjoyed riding in the cars. At the top of the mountain you can enjoy a great view, see wild monkeys, and visit the temple where the eternal flame used for lighting the flame in the Peace Park. It has been been burning for hundreds of years.


After the cable cars, we had some traditional cakes. Miyajima is famous for its maple-leave shaped soft buns. They have various fillings like sweet bean paste, and sesame, and less traditional flavours like chocolate and cheese. I tried a deep-fried cream one. It was very nice. 

Miyajima is great day out, and if you stay on the island in one of the many hotels or guest houses you can enjoy the peace after the last ferry leaves. There is a firework festival in August. You can also enjoy cherry blossoms in April and the Autumn leaves in October or November.