18 February, 2014

A Boy's Day Out

We're in the middle of Winter Break. A four day weekend (extended by one day to five, with a snow day on Friday) that usually seems just a little late to be called Winter Break and a little short, but this year with snow lying around, it doesn't seem too late to be called a Winter Break.

We always wonder what to do with this four-day break. It is too short to have a decent time away and too cold to go camping or hanging out in a park. This year we've not done much. We stayed home on Friday and Saturday, only went to church on Sunday, and the boys won't be going anywhere today. Yesterday, however, we planned to get out. We drove 33km south (1 ½ hr drive there and 2 ½ back) to a place called Machida on the southern edge of Tokyo.
It is set out from a corner of the store, with
lots of glass (and lights for night-time illum-
ination). A highly visible attraction for people
travelling by.

Our goal was an Outlet Mall that has a shop, Mont Bell, with a "pinnacle" climbing boulder). It just so happened that the Mall has a restaurant that Americans often talk to us about, "Outback". An American chain restaurant with something of an Australian theme. Alas we are yet to try it out as the one we saw yesterday doesn't open for lunch.

So, we went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant instead, which didn't disappoint. However I didn't fully enjoy it. My continuing ear problem means noisy environments are very distracting. Nor was I mentally prepared for such an experience. In any case, our focus was on the rock climbing afterwards, and we didn't really linger over our meal. But I've almost given up lingering over meals as a goal. My boys just don't do it. And we had four of them yesterday. Our youngest son's best friend came with us. He only has sisters and a baby brother, so came to enjoy a "boys day out" with us.

The rock climbing was good, but I didn't get a chance to do it. We were feeling the time-pinch by then, knowing that we'd have crowded roads to drive home on, so we just let the four boys climb. It is about 15m high with a variety of levels of climbs. The three younger boys took one of the easiest climbs and we challenged our teenager with his long, strong limbs to go for something harder. He was dripping by the end of his five minute climb. He's definitely more used to taking physical risks closer to the ground! Thankfully he was well belayed and never at risk of falling, however close he felt.

It only cost 500 yen (about $5) per primary-aged boy (700 yen for the older one), but it is a little too far away from our place. However we really can't complain because though the drive was slowish, but not bumper-to-bumper and the boys were good for most of the trip. 

I did find an English list of a number of other climbing places in Tokyo (see here if you're interested), some of which are much closer, but some have various restrictions on them or are much more expensive. We do actually have an outside climbing wall at our local gym, and a friend has volunteered to find out if casual climbers can use it (we thought it was only for club members).

Anyway, I'm glad we got out with these boys. Today they are definitely showing signs of needing to be back at school with some productive goals in mind.

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