Number 6

Today was Haruka 6th birthday, and like every year on her birthday, Haruka had been extremely excited.   Normally, we would do the usual trip to Disneyland -Haruka’s favorite place, but since we were unable to go to the overnight trip to the onsen and swimming pool last September because of Jenna’s condition, she insisted that we do another 2-day Disneyland / Disney Sea trip like we did last year.  Unfortunately, neither Jenna nor Princess conditions have improved, so there is no way we can put them in a pet hotel the way they are.  It’s too much maintenance for any pet hotel to keep these dogs healthy, especially Princess with her hypoglycemia.

Because we had to cancel the overnight trip the last time, Haru has developed somewhat of a resentment towards the dogs.  She would often say things like, “I wish they weren’t here” or “I wish they would die”.  Although I understand her frustration, I explained to her that its not Princess’s nor Jenna’s fault that they are sick, and that they don’t want to be sick, but they can’t help it.  It took a while, but Haru has learned to accept the dogs need extra care so we can’t really go anywhere overnight.  However, she still insisted that we take her somewhere overnight for her birthday.

There aren’t too many places where we can take the dogs with us where Haru can enjoy herself.  There are some onsens  where they allow dogs, but it would be extremely boring for Haru.  We may as well just stay home and order sushi, because aside from the hot springs, there is no entertainment value for kids at those places.  After several rounds of negotiations, Haru agreed that we’d just do a day trip on her birthday to the indoor pool and onsen, and we’d do an overnight trip to Disneyland/ Disney Sea some other time.  Since we now effectively postponed the overnight trip twice now, I want make sure that the next time we go somewhere, that we can do this for her.  And of course this is not only for Haru, but I have also been wanting to go somewhere as well, but lately it seems that every time we plan to go somewhere, something happens that breaks those plans.

As we set off to the onsen/pool day trip, I was very concerned that this trip, which of course was a “compromise” or an IOU of something better in the near future, would not meet her expectations.  What if she gets bored?  What if she starts complaining?  I started thinking of ways I could enhance this trip.  I didn’t want to buy her extra presents, otherwise that would spoil her.  I could make stops at some tourist spots on the way there, but what tourist spot would she enjoy?

The onsen/pool resort is located on the Chiba peninsula which is across Tokyo bay.  We would take the Aqua-line, which is a very long tunnel and causeway that stretches under and over the bay.   There is a small artificial island called the “Umi Hotaru” which means Ocean Firefly, which connects the causeway and tunnel portion of the Aqua-line.  Its comparable to Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, but Umi Hotaru is much smaller and of course man-made.

Usually when we go out to Chiba, we just blow through Umi Hotaru without stopping, because its really just a very expensive tourist trap with a bunch of overprices shops and restaurants.  So we haven’t been there in over ten years.  Taking somewhat of a gamble, we decided to make a stop on the artificial island to check out the shops, have lunch and enjoy the view of the bay.

Umi Hotaru was pretty much unchanged since the last time we visited 10+ years ago.  Although the names of the shops and restaurants may have changed, it was still the very touristy overpriced trap it was the last time I visited.  But this was the first time for Haru, so everything was new to her.  She loved being on island in the middle of the bay, she loved seeing the little souvenir shops, she even loved the little photo spots around the island, and often asked me take her picture.  He had small lunch at one of the mediocre overpriced restaurant and spent a couple of hours just walking around looking at different things.  Haru enjoyed the little artificial island so much, we could have spent the whole day there, but I reminded her that there was more, which made her very happy.

After a couple of hours of shop hopping and taking pictures, we decided to move on to our destination: Hotel Mikazuki.  We went there about a year and half ago, and everyone seemed to have fun.  Haru especially enjoyed the big indoor pool and water slide.  Back then, she couldn’t touch the bottom of the pool with her feet so she didn’t like the water slide and needed to wear water wings to get around.  Since then, she has taken a few swimming lessons and grew a few inches, enough to be able to touch the bottom, so she was more confident in the pool.  She even enjoyed the water slide; she enjoyed it so much that she have slid down it at least 50 times while we were there.  She even experimented with  swimming under water and diving to pick up object like keys, that I would throw in.

Afterwards, we went to the hot spring baths to relax.  Haru and my wife were in the women’s baths, and I of course I was in the men’s bath.  I personally don’t really like the idea of taking baths with a bunch of other naked men,  It makes me feel really uncomfortable, but since today was a weekday, they baths were pretty much empty and I was able to relax.  The only other complaint I had was the water was not hot enough for me.  I usually like my water scorching hot -at least 46-47 degrees (Celsius) if not hotter.  The hottest bath there was around 41 degrees which felt very lukewarm to me, so I didn’t spend too much time there.

After I had showered and gotten dressed, I went to the message chair room and took a short nap as I waited for Haru and her mom finish their baths.  The message chair room was nice and comfortable.  I was able to fall asleep almost immediately, or perhaps it was because I was very tired.

About 20 minutes later, I woken up by Haru and we all went up to the arcades.  Haru wanted to make another candle like she did the last time we were there.  These candles aren’t cheap, and I was hoping that Haru wouldn’t want to make another one.  But, of course, she wanted to and since it was her birthday, we let her make another one.  As I walked away, I told my wife that I don’t want to know how much this candle costs this time.

After walking around the arcade and snapping a few pictures, Haru had finished making her candle.  Surprisingly, it looked a lot better than the one she made a year and half ago.  The ornaments were arranged tastefully artistically which was a vast contrast to the one she wade when she was four years, which look thrown together.  It proves that Haru has become progressively artistic, which is very prevalent in her drawings.  And best of all, the candle apparently cost a lot less.

Finally, after a long day, we all went to a sushi restaurant (Haru’s favorite food) and had dinner.  By then, Haru was really tired and was about to fall asleep, so we finished up quickly and went home, by which time, Haru was fast to sleep.  Overall, the day was pretty much a success.  Haru enjoyed the pool and we got to have fun as well.  Best of all, she didn’t complain about not being able to stay overnight, but I am sure that this isn’t going to be the end of it.