Finally the time for the biggest trip of the year arrived. We flew off to Japan on September 28th and followed the sun all the way across the Pacific, past the Aleutian islands, to Japan.
12 hours in the air, Minneapolis to Tokyo.
Brian met us at the airport and we hopped a bus into Tokyo. Our first glimpse of the city came on a cloudy, overcast day.
Next we hopped the bullet train.
The rest of our greeting party, Mika and Anna, were waiting for us at the Mishima station.
Our first full day in Japan, driving on the wrong side of the road.
Around the neighborhood.
Past the rice fields.
To the bamboo forest.
That was next to the Nihondaira Zoo.
Anna’s kindergarten class was visiting the zoo and we met her teacher.
A lot of school kids were visiting the zoo that day.
We saw lots of scary creatures.
Some of the creatures even posed for us. This is a grey crowned crane.
Everywhere we saw construction crews at work, there was always a flagman.
Later that evening we took a walk through Izunokuni.
The next day was rainy, but Anna was ready.
Day 2 destination, one of the larger Shinto shrines.
Everyone has an umbrella.
Everyone has an umbrella.
The cleansing ritual.
We meet Anna’s cousin, Shiho, who is a part of a special 7-year ceremony. Shiho’s mother, father, and grandmother are also there. This may be the first time Shiho has greeted someone with a handshake.
The ceremony takes place in the smaller building in front of the larger building.
The smaller building interior, after the ceremony.
A serious family portrait after the ceremony.
Another part of the park.
After the ceremony, lunch at Hamazushi restaurant, where you order on computer and the food comes on the conveyer belt. Each dish is approximately $1 (100 yen). Lunch for three=$20. Not bad.
Later we saw a wedding party. This is not the bride.
And this is not the bride.
This is the bride.
At the end of the day, we visited a traditional garden at a nearby museum.
On the bullet train to Tokyo on Sunday morning, I’m watching the twitter feed of the Wisconsin/Michigan game while speeding along at 200mph, because Brian has a portable WIFI hotspot. Exciting game, Badgers should’ve won.
Off the bullet train, onto the Tokyo subway.
Tokyo Baptist Church, our first stop, where we met up with three ladies who were with me in Israel a year and a half ago.
Then we visited Yosuke Naito in his home for a delicious meal. We met Nait, as we called him, 25 years ago when he was a student at the University of Wisconsin. He is now an editor with the Japan Times.
Finally we navigated the trains back the way we came, and another day ended.
The next adventure in this series is called “The Mountains of Izu.”