This weekends family outing was to Shibamata, an old town in the Katsushika district just outside Tokyo. We went to visit the Taishaku-ten Nichiren Buddhist Temple – a particularly beatiful temple founded in 1629 that hadn’t been burnt in the Meiji Restoration nor blown up in the war. The oldest part of the building had amazingly intricate wood carvings, and the actual building had been shroded in glass to protect them.

The walled garden, which had a wooden walkway going all the way around it, was a small but perfectly formed example of a Japanese garden. Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries and I had to use my phone instead, s0 excuse the slightly crappy photos.

Lunch was locally caught fish – unagi-don (eel with teriyaki sauce over rice), carp sashimi and a carp and miso soup. All very good, although the soup had bones in that I think you were expected to eat (they did kind of dissolve when you crunched them) but for the fist time in Japan I just couldn’t stomach them and left them in a pile at the bottom of my bowl.

Next stop was the Edogawa River, and a trip across it on a traditional man-powered boat propelled by a man pushing and pulling something that was across between an oar and a rudder from the back.

There wasn’t much on the other side – I think they just keep the service going as it used to be a major crossing point back in the Edo period. I was pretty pleased to head home by this time because Kentaro was in a bad mood and behaving rather oddly, including spitting at me when his parents weren’t looking (it used a lot of willpower not to spit back) and also playing with the dogs willie (you can imagine what happened to it), also when his parents weren’t looking. He’s rather a strange boy it has to be said, I think largely because he’s deeply insecure, a fact not helped by the fact that he has a cuter and much more likeable younger brother so is always battling for attention (though not always in the healthiest of ways).

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