Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Lion Sleep Tonight

Right now Obon is finishing up in Japan. Now, technically, Obon is not an actual holiday, the Japanese government doesn't have it recognized, it's not a legal holiday, and yet for all of that, everyone takes it off and the whole nation migrates from the cities to the countryside to go back 'home'. While my work-a-holic father-in-law doesn't have to migrate (We're the ones doing the migration), he actually closes his hospital for a few days to take one of his very few vacations. Now Jiji, as he is called, was busy while the cousins were together helping the people of the city where he lives as their doctor, but now... well, he can forget the doctor and just be grandpa, and boy did he.

In the three days of break we went to a museum to see trains, a safari park, and then went to another prefecture to see MORE trains (A bit more on that later), but it was the second day that, for me, was fairly interesting.

I wasn't really kept informed as to the plans for the break (Who tells the taxi driver anything?) and instead when I woke up Wednesday morning I was informed that we were off to see lions and tigers and bears (Oh myyyyy). Now we had been there before, but Makoto was two-ish at the time and remembered nothing, so this time we felt that, while Hikaru might not remember anything, Makoto would.

Besides, it was Jiji's day off.

The park is laid out in a fairly standard BIG WIDE CIRCLE with large electric gates between the various 'countries' to keep the critters from molesting each other.

Actually, I thought that the gates gave the whole place a serious Jurassic Park feel to the whole thing. I kept wanting to mutter "Clever girl".

Pet, pet, pet
Our first problem was the horrible sounds emanating from nearby that caused us all to fear just what the animals might do or be doing, thankfully by the time we entered 'Canada' (Bears... just... bears. Because that's all that one can find in Canada apparently), we had Hikaru up and stopped the snoring. Once that major milestone was accomplished it was fairly smooth sailing for the most part. Both boys enjoyed seeing the animals (Daddy was a bit depressed, but that was mostly due to the conditions of said animals) and eventually we made it to the Kid's Safari (I.e. the petting zoo) where the boys got to get out and talk and pet some of the wild side critters (Namely goats, but they did have some kangaroos).

Through it all, Jiji was a happy grandfather. As said, he's a bit of a work-a-holic and doesn't get the chance to take a lot of time off and here he was, with his two grandsons and he wasn't going to miss a minute. Both boys very quickly picked up on this vibe by the way and figured out that Jiji was going to pay for just about anything as long as they turned on the puppydog eyes.

And then Makoto found the attached amusement part.

The park itself has seen better days, probably sometime around the Jurassic. It has a few sun faded rides, most of which want about $3 for a short, bumpy trip. Tokyo Disneyland this sure as hell wasn't, but, when you're 4 and 1... who cares? It's fun. It's fun to ride Thomas the Tank Engine again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and someone please drag these boys away from it!

The never ending Thomas!
It's fun to go up in a Ferris wheel for the very first time and then enjoy a sno-cone afterwards. It was fun to play in the bounce house, to ride the monorail, to see the video games. It was just fun and I'm honestly not knocking anything about the day, we had two very happy little boys who got to spend a great day in the sun with their grandparents.

But what was the most amusing thing for me? Jiji. My father-in-law, the very respectable doctor who is in his early 70's, started out just as giddy as his grandsons. And every ride request was met by him, he rode Thomas, he took them up on the monorail, he stood-by as they drove various cars and what-not but little by little the giddiness left him.

Jiji hadn't been fully subjected to the perpetual motion machines that are two small boys. He's used to his granddaughter who has some very set limits as to just how much she'll do being konking out, or Makoto in days of old when he would go for a few hours and then crash. Keeping up with those kinds of kids, not a problem... But Makoto of today, and Hikaru when he gets worked up, they don't stop. They're like that damn rabbit, they just keep going and going and going. Jiji however...

I believe it was rather telling that the plaintive whining about wanting to go home didn't come from the younger set, but the older. The elder lion has found that the younger cubs can go as well as he can, and indeed, can go farther than he is particularly comfortable with.

Still, while the elderly lion might be a bit dismayed at this uncomfortable fact (That he's slowing down a bit while his grandsons are speeding up), this is not the end. Of course not, there is still many things they can share. He still is Jiji after all and his grandsons adore him (And not just because he's an easy mark), he has lived a long and extraordinary life and I will tell both my sons to pay attention to what he tells them, because chances are it's worth listening to. But there is still one further thing that he and the boys can share...

In pulling away from the safari park with the course set for the grandparents' house, first Hikaru, then Makoto, and finally Jiji nodded off.

And once again the car was filled with horrible noise as all three started to snore.
Hush my darling, don't fear my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

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