Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On our last day we went see the beach and take a few pictures one more time.

                                           Mr. Kadowaki

Then we went out to lunch with Fumio Kadowaki San, Wenji, and Hong Nan.  We went to a Japanese restaurant in Tabanake.  They served us a fantastic meal.  I even liked the sushi!  It was all oishii! 

Then we checked out of our apartment, gave away all of our accumulated house wares to make room for our accumulated souvenirs and got a ride from Mr. Kadowaki to the Petersen’s in Miyazaki where we would spend our last night.  They invited the staff and family of The American Kindergarten for a wonderful dinner.  I came to know and love these people in the few short months I was there and they all became my family away from home.
 Mr. J, Mrs. Takiko, Mrs. Peta, Miss Kumi, Leslie, Scott, Mrs. Erika, Emi, Dennis and Mrs. Takiko's and Mrs. Peta's children.

We left for the Miyazaki airport at 8 a.m. and didn’t get home until 10 p.m., but with the 16 hour time difference we traveled for about 30 hours. During the entire 30 hours it was Tuesday, December 11th everywhere we were.  The longest day of our life! Our plane leaving Tokyo was late, so we missed our flight to Denver from San Francisco and had to fly to SLC 4 hours later.  Then when we were on the runway ready to fly from SLC to Idaho Falls the auxiliary power went out so we had to sit on the runway for an hour while they tried to fix it!  We did eventually make it home.

It is bittersweet.  We are thrilled to be home, but we miss Japan already.  We had a saikou-pronounced psycho, which means awesome, experience in Japan.  We absolutely loved it and are grateful for the experience. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We were told that one of the things we should try to see while we are in Japan is a Sumo wrestling event.  We didn't think we were going to get to witness one, but much to our delight we found out a few days ago that Shintomi sponsors an annual Sumo wrestling exhibition and junior competition.  It is held over two days and many people in the community come out to watch it.  There are many food booths set up.  Here is a sampling of what we bought.
 Chicken yaki, okonomiyaki, and yakitori.

Sumo wrestlers wear a mawashi, or a loin cloth.  Here is what it looks like before it is put on their body.

They throw salt into the ring before competing.  Then they bow, squat down, make a big grunting noise, and try to be the first to force their opponent out of the ring, or make their opponent touch the ground with anything but the soles of their feet.

Most matches only last a few seconds.
                                                              These guys are waiting in line for their turn.

Very few girls participate in the sport, but there were a few here today.  Thankfully they wear a more modest uniform!
Here is a picture of the kids "warming up" before their match.
This is a picture of some of the wrestlers waiting in line to get their food after their match.

 It was quite entertaining to watch!

For “half-time” entertainment they had a famous singer from Tokyo.  I got an autographed CD to bring home!

We have had a great adventure here in Japan and would like to come back again someday!  Here a few top ten lists that we compiled about our favorite things about our experience in Japan.

Top Ten Foods
10-Japanese rice, we especially like it with nori (bottled seaweed paste)
9-Champon-Chinese Noodles
8-Tako Yaki-Scott, not me!
8-Suki Yaki- Fried vegetables and thin sliced beef with soy sauce mixed with sugar and served over rice.
7-Korean BBQ
2-Micans-little mandarin oranges
1-Meron pan

Top Ten Sites That We Visited in Japan
10-ShoGun castle -Tokyo
9-Inari Fushimi Walk-Kyoto
8-Kinkajui (Golden Pavillion)-Kyoto
7-Nagasaki Bomb Museum and Peace Park
6-Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
5-Mount Inasa-Nagasaki
4-Aoshima Island
3-Tokyo Sky Tree
2-Hiroshima Bomb Museum and Peace Park
1-The beach right where we lived in Shintomi!

Top Ten Things We Love About Japan
10-Amazing Japanese toilets
9-Beautiful countryside
8-Efficient train system
7-Fruit and vegetable stands
6-Great weather
5-Beautiful flowers

4-Lack of crime
3-Honest people
2-Respectful people
1-Kind, generous people!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

 We had another birthday party at AK.  I thought all the treats were terrific, but this one really caught my attention!

This board shows the names of the students whose birthday we were celebrating.

Here is a picture of the kids playing in the leaves.

We found out some interesting facts about schools in Japan.  They don’t have janitors. The students do all of the cleaning!  They spend at least 15 minutes every day sweeping, dusting and cleaning toilets!  The parents come in twice a year and help do a deep cleaning, usually on a Sunday morning!

Today Scott came with me to The American Kindergarten to help make mochi (rice cake).  It was quite a process!  The first step is to soak the special kind of very sticky rice called mochi gome in water over night. 

Then you strain the rice from the water.

This rice breaks apart easily.

Next you steam it until it is soft.

Then you pound it with large mallets for quite a long time!  Long enough to give us blisters!  We made 18 batches of this!
 Dennis Petersen, me, and Mr. J
                                          Dennis, Mr. J, and Scott
Students pounding rice.
 After you pound it long enough it becomes smooth and doughy.

Then you transfer it to a container that is dusted with cornstarch.

Next you give it to the student’s moms who know what they are doing!  They used anko-sweet red bean paste, for the filling.  In Japan this food is called Daifuku, and it is one of Scott’s favorites, because it is really doughy!  You can grill them, cook them in the microwave, or eat them raw!

Here is the finished product!

This is the teddy bear class, the youngest ones, making rice cakes!

I found these six women all dressed in kimonos in the Miyazaki train station last week.

Many of the streets in Miyazaki and Japan for that matter are so narrow that it is very tricky to get two cars down it at the same time!

I took a picture of my trusty blue backpack because it was a life saver for us here.  We used it for everything from groceries, to school, to going on trips and more! It is about ready to fall apart and I am so sad!

Here is Scott’s official Japanese stamp called a hanko.  It is critical here in Japan.  You need it to get a bank account, pay a utility bill, sign a lease on an apartment and more.  This is Scott’s name in Katakana!  It is Su Ka To.

Most roofs here are made from tile.
This one is on an entrance to a house across the street from us.

We are leaving Japan in less than one week!  The time has flown by and we are happy to be coming home, but we are sad to leave.  I will be glad to be finished with this blog!  I am going to turn it into a book for my coffee table that I will treasure forever, but I can not imagine doing a blog forever!  Hopefully just one more time!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trip to Nagasaki
We left Monday morning for a 3 day trip to Nagasaki.  It took us about 6 hours by train to get there.

Our hotel was only a few minutes walk from the station.  Our room was very, very small and the bed was very, very hard, but it was reasonably priced and it had one of those fantastic toilets that I love!

The first afternoon we visited the Atomic Bomb Museum. This bomb was dropped on August, 9, 1945, three days after the first bomb was dropped over Hiroshima After visiting these sites and seeing the devastation and suffering we hope this device will never have to be used again.   The bombs helped the war end sooner and saved the lives of many American soldiers, but it was still a terrible thing. 

Here are some pictures from the Peace Park.

This picture was taken of the exact spot where the bomb exploded.

                                                    This clock stopped at 11:02 when the bomb hit.

This is a replica of the actual size of the bomb.  Almost 75,000 people died and many more were injured and died later as a result of one bomb.

Here is a picture of what was left of a prison that was completely leveled.

This statue is in the Peace Park

There were more cranes displayed here.

And one very long continuous chain of cranes was made by a man using a single piece of paper 150 meters (492 feet) long!  It wraps around the stairwell. 

On to happier things!  Here is a huge Ferris Wheel near the train station.

This is a picture of an enormous Christmas tree outside the Nagasaki train station.

On Tuesday morning we rode one of the many city buses across the city to the Penguin Aquarium. The bus driver waved to every other bus driver along the half hour route!

This exhibit is home to many penguins and has several huge and many small salt water aquariums.  It has hundreds of varieties of fish and 8 different species of penguins.

That afternoon we walked to Chinatown.  Wenji told us to eat Champon, so we did.  It is noodles, meat, and vegetables.  We also got some fried rice.  It was quite delicious.  I let Scott have all the octopus!

Here is a picture of a typical napkin you would find in most Japanese restaurants, if they have a napkin at all.  I guess this is where your personal towel would come in handy!  They also do not you give you a very big glass!

Here is another good fortune cat.

A vendor was making and selling these beautiful ice milk rose creations on the street near Chinatown.  We thought they were pretty so we bought some, but we found out that there wasn’t very much ice cream in the cone but they were quite artistic!

That afternoon we went to Glover Garden.  It was settled by a Scotsman named Thomas Glover in the mid 1800’s and many of the buildings have been preserved and are used today as a tourist attraction.  They let people dress up in period clothing.  I thought these Japanese girls looked pretty cute in their vintage dresses.

We are still trying to figure out why it is called Glover Garden, because we couldn’t find gardens there, just a few small flower beds.

                                A view of the harbor from Glover Hill.

That evening we went to Mt. Inasa.  We rode a bus to the bottom of the mountain where we took a 5 minute tram ride to the top of the mountain.  We got some good pictures of the late afternoon view, then we stayed and got some pictures of the night view of the city of Nagasaki.  You can walk 360 degrees around the top of the observation deck. I think our blood has thinned because we were freezing!  We had shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets on and we were still cold!  They said the temperature at the top of the mountain was about 5 degrees Celsius, and the wind was blowing!  We will never survive the cold when we get back to Idaho!

Taken from the tram on the way up the mountain.
                                                                               Daytime view.
Taken at sunset.
                                               Nighttime view.
According the brochure-"The 10-million dollar view, called a jewelry box of radiance."

This is a picture of the oldest stone arch bridge in Japan.  It was built in 1634.  It is called the Spectacles Bridge and got its name due to the reflection of the arches in the river forming a pair of eyeglasses.

We got lost on our way to find the bridge so we stopped this lady and asked her to point the way for us.  She proceeded to walk us about 1/2 mile to the bridge.  Soooo nice!

Here is a picture of a typical taxi in Japan.  They have white lace covering the seats!  They are spotless inside and out!