- Happy New Year, Nara Park, Kōfuku-ji, Tōdai-ji. Happy New Year - We would like to wish all of you Happy Holidays and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year. We should soon be in the new house and will be posting even more pictures along with some videos. We really appreciate everyone checking this site and especially all the email from our friends. Really looking forward to all of you visiting us in Japan.
Nara Park - Today we headed back to Nara Park to see a couple of famous temples again. We saw lots more deer and plenty of people. Within the park, many yatai were set up. A yatai (屋台) is a small, mobile food stall in Japan typically selling ramen or other hot food. The name literally means "shop stand." Many of them were selling hot sweet potatoes and senbei which is a snack you can feed to the deer. Nara Park (奈良公園, Nara Kōen) is a public park located in the city of Nara, Japan, at the foot of Mount Wakakusa, established in 1880. The over 1,200 wild sika deer (シカ or 鹿 shika) freely roaming around in the park are classified as a "Natural Monument." The park is also home to the Nara National Museum and Todai-ji, where the largest wooden building in the world houses a 50' tall statue of Buddha.
More information about Nara Park
Kōfuku-ji Temple - We visited the two most famous temples in the park. The first temple is called Kōfuku-ji. Kōfuku-ji (興福寺, Kōfuku-ji) is a Buddhist temple in the city of Nara, in Nara prefecture, Japan. Kōfuku-ji, along with several Buddhist temples, and other sites in Nara, received the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name: "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara." The picture is of the five story pagoda.
More information about Kofuku-ji
Tōdai-ji Temple - Tōdai-ji (東大寺, Tōdai-ji, Eastern Great Temple), is a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara, Japan. Its Great Buddha Hall (大仏殿 Daibutsuden), the largest wooden building in the world, houses the world's largest statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as Daibutsu (大仏). The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", together with seven other sites including temples, shrines and places in the city of Nara. Sika deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, roam the grounds freely.
More information about Tōdai-ji
- Rice Bowl. Nope not talking about food. Today was the Japanese version of the Super Bowl. This is American Football with a few variations. The rules are basically the same as college football in the United States. The two leagues consist of a collegiate league and a corporate league. The rice bowl is the culmination of the season with the top team from each league competing for the national championship. When the players get injured, they run out and cover them with a blanket and walk them off the field. They covered one of the players with a honey bear blanket but could not take the picture in time.
Ando Town, Nara, Japan House Purchase

- Yup, this whole house thingy began 6 months ago in San Diego when we found this house online. After lots of controversy and problems surrounding the purchase, we made it happen today. The house needs tons of work and much of the repair progress will be chronicled on this page. We needed to get the numbers from the electric meter and rode our bikes four miles each way in forty degree temperatures in the pouring rain with much of the stuff we purchased for working on the house. It pretty much sucked but no choice. From tomorrow going to being working on the house.
Property Plan

Gray - the road on the North side of the property
Brown - parking
Green - garden area
Yellow - rock walkway to the entry
White - dog run

1st Floor - The entry is on the lower left. The hallway leads to the toilet on the left, the sink in an adjacent room accessed from the dining/kitchen (upside down DK) which then leads to the bathtub and shower. The bedroom for all of us, until the little dude is a bit older, (room all the way in the back) is accessed from the DK. There is a back entry from the bedroom. From the DK there is an entry to the dining room in green which then leads to the living room which is also in green.

2nd Floor - The stairs going up end at the entry to what will be the science room and then out to the veranda which will be remodeled to take advantage of the view. The room adjacent to the veranda shown in green will be the classroom office. The largest room, which is also in green, will be the classroom.

The outside property plan completely changed after purchasing the house. We soon realized parking was going to be a bitch and I completely changed everything around to maximize the yard space for our personal use instead of wasting it on parking. Much more about this as the house nears completion and the pictures are uploaded.
Floor Plan

This is basically the same as the property plan above except in these diagrams the first and second floor are shown vertically. The first set shows the room plan while the second set shows the furniture plan.

We originally planned to use the second floor as bedrooms and the first floor as classrooms and then realized there was no place to entertain guests. In addition, going pee in the middle of the night pretty much sucks when you need to go down and back up a steep flight of stairs. The single bedroom on the first floor will be good enough until Shai gets a little older.

I plan to make an outside laundry space accessed from the bedroom instead of using the second floor veranda which is typical in Japan. Instead, we plan to use the veranda for a relaxing spot to read, drink wine, BBQ, and take advantage of the wonderful view. The veranda is accessed via the Science room where I plan to install instruments to measure daily climatic conditions. This will benefit Shai in his science studies and the room will be used for planned science classes in English.

The first floor living room will be the location of a wood burning fireplace assuming we can find a kit in Japan. We went to the building supply store but could not find the materials we need.
Gardening Plan - Spring 2010

This is my tentative gardening plan. Yeah being pretty anal as usual but most of you who know me already expect this kind of planning. Anyway, trying to fit as much as possible into this small garden. Even this small garden should produce quite a bit thanks to the quality of the soil and this hot and humid growing season.

Quite a bit went into the planning of the garden including calculation of the solar angle during the Spring and Summer. The garden is in the shade of the house during the cooler months.
Gardening Plan

The trees are on the North side of the garden and should not pose any problems. In fact, the plan is to use the trees to support the pumpkin and zucchini vines and use less garden space for these space consuming vegetables.

The other vine crops, peas and cucumbers, will be trained along the wall on the West side of the garden.

This is all tentative at the point but seems to be a good plan. Really looking forward to gardening again after being in the condo for many years. Certainly is nice to be in a house with a yard.
Gardening Schedule

The information on this page was obtained from the Nara Prefecture site. The site is written totally in Japanese but can easily be translated using Google Translate or some other translation program. The gardening schedule pretty much follows a time frame very similar to what you would expect in a climate like Buffalo, New York. Kind of interesting though. This location in Japan is very similar in Latitude to San Diego but with a climate much closer to that of Buffalo, which is located at a considerably more Northern latitude.

Nara, Japan
Latitude = 34 30 00 North
San Diego, California
Latitude = 32 48 00 North
Buffalo, New York
Latitude = 42 57 00 North
Nara Prefecture Vegetable Garden Schedule
  Time to sow
  Time for seedlings
  Time to harvest
Asparagus アスパラガス                                                                        
Strawberry イチゴ                                                                        
Soybean エダマメ                                                                        
Peas エンドウ                                                                        
Beans エンドウ                                                                        
Okra オクラ                                                                        
Turnip カブ                                                                        
Pumpkin カボチャ                                                                        
Cabbage キャベツ                                                                        
Cucumber キュウリ                                                                        
Burdock ゴボウ                                                                        
Komatsuna コマツナ                                                                        
Konnyaku コンニャク                                                                        
Sweet Potato サツマイモ                                                                        
Taro サトイモ                                                                        
Shirona シロナ                                                                        
Crown Daisy シュンギク                                                                        
Ginger ショウガ                                                                        
Potato ジャガイモ                                                                        
Watermelon スイカ                                                                        
Celery セロリ                                                                        
Broad Beans ソラマメ                                                                        
Onion タマネギ                                                                        
Radish ダイコン                                                                        
Corn トウモロコシ                                                                        
Tomato トマト                                                                        
Eggplant ナス                                                                        
Leek ニラ                                                                        
Garlic ニンニク                                                                        
Carrot ニンジン                                                                        
Green Onion ネギ                                                                        
Napa ハクサイ                                                                        
Chayote ハヤトウリ                                                                        
Pepper ピーマン/
Broc/Caul ブロッコリー/カリフラワー                                                                        
Spinach ホウレンソウ                                                                        
Mizuna ミズナ/
Mitsuba ミツバ                                                                        
Melon メロン                                                                        
Moroheiya モロヘイヤ                                                                        
Bean Sprouts もやし/
Tukuneimo ヤマノイモ                                                                        
Scallion ワケギ                                                                        
Home Purchase - Shopping List

Yup, this house is a total fixer but should be a pretty fun project. Since most Japanese people are not into do-it-yourself home repair, we cannot scam many tools from family members or friends since none are available. We are getting tons of household stuff though. Many family members are purchasing some big ticket items for us such as a refrigerator, stove, washing machine, rice cooker and more. We are also getting lots of used stuff from the house amounting to pretty much all the furnishings we need. The family is happy to get rid of many things in order to create more space in the house. The following is a list we began making of things we need from the building supply store. Decided to put it online to make it easier for us to keep track of our purchases.
Home Purchase - Shopping List - prices are per unit
Q Price Product
10 400 Concrete mix - 25 kg
20 100 Concrete block
20 40 Concrete brick
8 900 Plywood sheet
3 2100 Door knob
50 50 Ceramic tile
1 600 Wall patch
1 3500 Regular paint - 3 liters
1 10000 Regular paint - 14 liters
1 3300 Bathroom paint - 3 liters
1 5800 Bathroom paint - 7 liters
1 1000 Laundry roof sheet
1   Drywall patch
1   Wood cleaner
1   Bathroom cleaner
1   Kitchen cleaner
1   Sponge
1   Brush
Q Price Product
1 2500 Drill
1 2000 Pad sander
1 3000 Jig saw
1 1000 Extension cord - 10 m
1 200 Dust mask - pack of 16
1 500 Eye protector
1 1000 Tape measure
1   Wire brush
1   Concrete trowel
1   Putty tool
10   Sandpaper
1   Utility rope
4   Paint brushes - 2" 4"
1   Rubber gloves
10   Work gloves
Q Price Product
1 1000 Standard shovel
1 1000 Standard hoe
1 1500 Standard rake
1 200 Hand shovel
1 200 Hand rake
1 500 Broom
1 3000 Hose with holder
1 2000 Hand pruner
1 2000 Bush trimmer
1 100 - Hyakin Tree saw
50   Bamboo
Q Price Product
3 1000 Electric timer
3   Electric lights
1 4000 Bike baby seat
1 1000 Surge protector
1 8000 Nabe
1 1000 Bulletin board
1 7000 Vacuum
1 3000 Toaster
1 3000 Coffee maker
1 1000 Bulletin board
Links to more specific information
House location on Google maps
Route and distance from the house to house in San Diego - 8,291 miles
Route and distance from the house to family house in Oji, main roads - 3.9 miles
Route and distance from the house to family house in Oji, country roads - 3.9 miles
Route and distance from the house to the Horyuji train station - 1.5 miles
Route and distance from the house to Horyuji temple - 1.8 miles
Route and distance from the house to Todaiji temple - 10.6 miles
Route and distance from the house to Nara Park - 10.6 mi

A bunch of pictures that are still online amazingly enough.
Before After
Adjacent Vacant Property
Street View
Front Yard

Parking Area
Back Yard Laundry Room

Living Room
Dining Room

Laundry Room

Pictures Already on the Site