Monday, November 3, 2008

Becca's Costume

Our cute little neighbors... Felicity (with Grandma hiding behind), Savannah, and Owen.

Our little Geisha girl.  She was beautiful! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

All Good Things Must Come to an End

I don't like that saying.....a wise man once said.....
There are no endings, only new beginnings.
My trip to Japan must come to an end, but the memories, experiences, and the vision of the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund will live on in all of us.  We are the last group of teachers to be sponsored by the JFMF.  I feel inspired to do more because of this experience.  I am not sure where this will lead me in the future, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason.  
Mariah (from Jacksonville), Jessica (from Nebraska), and me

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Closing Presentation

Today we had presentations from each group, sharing what they learned in their host city.  

Here is the best picture I could get of Mt. Fuji.
Next time I come here, it will be in Spring so I can actually climb it.

We gave a beautiful pearl bracelet to our wonderful tour guide, Ishii san.  When she saw the bag, she knew it was expensive. It is MikiMoto???  I had never heard of it.  I sure Colleen has.  I have been sheltered from expensive jewelry.  The only thing I have worth anything is my Movado watch.
She said, "I am afraid you have no more money."  What a truly sweet woman.

Japanese people appreciate any gift given.  It was a real eye opener for me to see how appreciative they are when they receive anything.  I hope to change our Christmas traditions this year to teach our children to appreciate the gift of giving rather than receiving.

Tokyo Toy Museum

We decided to take a quick trip to the Tokyo Toy Museum.  We had 5 people and the taxi only holds 4.  So we had to hide MaryEllen (the one in the back right).  The first taxi had no clue she was there.  The second taxi driver told us that the limit was four.  Then he told us to duck down if we saw any police cars.  It was quite an experience.  We were laughing all the way back to the hotel.

Imperial Gardens
This is is the gardens at the Imperial Palace.
A long lost relative of Max. 
Sorry it is blurry but I had to post it for Becca.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Travel Day

We didn't have much time for sightseeing today.  We traveled back to Tokyo by train from Iida.  My new hotel room has a view of Mt. Fuji.  This is the best picture I could get this morning.  Hopefully as the sky clears, I will have a better view.

The busiest intersection in Japan.

We ate at Outback.  After eating Japanese food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this was an exciting find!  Most of the people eating here were Americans.  There was no wait to get in. 
I don't think I have ever waited less than 45 minutes for a table.  
Not in Japan!  
I ate a big juicy hamburger, french fries, and a Bloomin' Onion.  YUM!

No Becca, I did not buy you anything in Claire's.  
I just took this picture.

Chu-ken Hachiko (means the faithful dog Hachiko) was born in 1923 and brought to Tokyo in 1924.  His owner was a profesor at the Imperial University.  They would walk to the train station when he left for work.  Then the professor would find his dog patiently waiting when he returned to the train station.  This routine continued until one day in 1925, when the professor died while at work.  The bond was so strong between the dog and owner, so the dog continued to wait each day at the Shibuya station for his friend.  He continued to do this for 10 years.  In 1935 Hachiko died at the train station, waiting for his master.  The people who passed the dog each day were so touched by his story, they created a statue in 1934.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What can one person do in a little more than 24 hours?

1. Visit an apple orchard

2. Take a nice leisurely walk to a Buddhist Temple
3. Visit a Buddhist Temple
4.  Attend an orchid show
5.  Cheer at a Rugby Game
6. Admire chrysanthemums at a Flower Show
7. Visit an old school house
8. Visit a puppet museum
9. Eat a 7 course meal at a sushi restaurant
10. Create charms from beads
11.  Take a brisk walk around the river
12.  Take a gondola up a mountain
13.  Eat at an open fire pit restaurant
14. Observe 2 tea ceremonies
15.  Attend a Lion Show
16. Play the Kotto
17.  Eat another fancy dinner in a kimono
18.  Sing Karoke to a large Japanese family (Sweet Child of Mine, and YMCA)
19. Be called a Loser (again) by Jessica

And here I am updating my blog.  I am so dedicated!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The most active 24 hours EVER!

These wonderful people, Ken and Raiko, took me into their home for a little more than 24 hours.  All I can say is, WOW!  
I was on a wild ride around Iida.  
The hospitality of the Japanese people is indescribable.
Thank you Ken and Raiko!

We visited Raiko's parents' house.  They have an apple orchard.  

Then off on a "leisurely" walk to the temple.  The path was beautiful.  
You could hear the water from the river near by.

These statues were all along the path. 
We made it to the Temple.  The Temple is not locked.  
According to Ken, even the worst thieves would not steal from the Temple.

We then headed to an orchid garden.  I felt like I was in Florida.  
It was a huge greenhouse with fountains, ponds, and all sorts of plants.
A puppet museum
This is the floor of a 100 year old schoolhouse.

Iida High School Rugby Game
Ken is a teacher at Iida Senior High.  
This was their semi-final game.  They won 54-10!!
Ken and Raiko's wonderful family.

Sushi in a bird cage.  This was the first course to a 7 course meal.

Raiko is very crafty, so she was teaching me a complicated beading activity.
She speaks very little English, but  I thought we did well together.
Gondola ride in the rain to the top of a mountain, above the clouds.

I tried to eat everything put in front of me but I couldn't eat this fish.  
The skewer is going through the tongue!
Tea Ceremony #2
Lion Dance Celebration in Downtown Iida.
Our dinner for JFMF.  Very nice.

We literally crashed a Japanese party because they had Karoke.
We sang Sweet Child of Mine from GnR and YMCA.  
Everyone was yelling and cheering for us.  We are so cool!
This is Jessica calling me a Loser from across the room.
Thanks Jessica!