Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Clan in Japan

We have had a busy, fun-filled couple of weeks around here with our first visitors from overseas:  Mr. Mike's parents, two aunts, and their husbands.  The first couple of days Mike was working and they were still jet-lagged, so we took it pretty easy.  We walked around the cute neighborhood by our train station and I took them grocery shopping (an experience in itself!) and shopping at the great secondhand stores.  But beginning Saturday, we got down to the business of sight-seeing.  We went on some kind of excursion pretty much every day for the next two weeks.  It was fun for me to show them around and they were all so appreciative of everything about Japan.  I also enjoyed cooking some of the Japanese dishes I have learned for people who would actually eat and enjoy them, since my kids usually don't.  :)  We were able to have an enjoyable meal of okonomiyaki filled with compliments instead of complaints!  I would cook, and they would clean up, and I'm always quite happy with that arrangement.  The second week was Luke's spring break and Mike took the week off, so we went to Hiroshima and Miyajima and spent the night, and then spent a day in Kyoto later in the week.  Unfortunately, the weather has not been great, but we managed to see a lot and enjoy ourselves anyway.  Our house will seem pretty quiet and lonely when everyone leaves on Tuesday.

Now prepare for a long post with lots of pictures as I try to cover the highlights of the whole trip.

Down by the station

Grocery shopping

Secondhand shopping

Beaver bought this dragon thing.

I'm not sure what is actually happening here, but it looks like Mike is giving instructions for riding the train.

On the train

Getting on the ropeway

Up, up and away!

On top of the mountain

Downtown Kobe

We ran into the missionaries


The aquarium was Beaver's idea, but it turns out all he wanted to see was the dolphin show.  We went to that first thing, and then he was ready to go.

Enjoying okonomiyaki.

The Bakery Party!
This photo requires some explanation.  There are little bake shops full of all kinds of bread creations practically on every corner in Japan.  One train stop from our station is the only bakery where we have been able to find whole wheat bread.  One day we had been out sight-seeing all morning and we were all very hungry.  We had to pass by that station on our way home, so we stopped at the bakery to get some whole wheat bread, but everything in the shop looked so good to our empty stomachs that we started buying more than just bread.  By the time we left, I think we had purchased one of about everything in the store between us!  We took our goods home and divvied them up on platters so everyone could try a little of everything for lunch.  Beaver came in and announced, "It's a bakery party!"  And so, the Bakery Party was born.  A couple of days later we were passing that station again, so we repeated the process, but this time saved the party for dinner so Bear could join in as well.  After our meal, Bear declared, "That was the best dinner ever!"

Being a cattleman, Uncle Jim wanted to try some of the famous Kobe beef, so he bought some one night and treated us all to it the next day.  I actually haven't been crazy about the Kobe beef I have eaten so far, but this was good stuff!

In no time at all, G&G were fitting right in - sleeping on the trains and everything!

Our kids were delighted with the tame "wild" deer on Miyajima.  Until Bear got kicked, anyway.

The floating torii gate at Miyajima

Hiroshima - I didn't think I wanted to take the kids to the A-bomb museum, so Mike and I sent the gang off on their own and went on a tour of the Mazda factory instead.

When they were done at the museum, they were brave enough to go and get lunch by themselves!  Here is a restaurant employee showing Grandpa how to order his lunch from a vending machine.  I was impressed.  I don't think I have ever even ordered at a restaurant by myself!  I always take Mike with me!

Grandpa was getting pretty good at chopsticks!

Bear dressed as a samurai at Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle

We were all tired out on Wednesday after our trip, so we took it easy in the morning, and then Mike took everyone to a nearby park in the afternoon.  It has beautiful gardens and an awesome ropes course for kids.

Thursday was Kyoto

And finally, the cherry blossoms really showed themselves!

It was wonderful to have visitors and to be able to share Japan with people we love!


Becca said...

Beautiful pictures!

Fran said...

The torii gate photo looks like Japanese writing.
I bet the kids miss their Grandma and Grandpa! What fun!

Samantha said...

I am so jealous! I wish we could come visit. That's certainly not happening now, as we can never spend $ on anything fun ever again. I miss Japanese stores and malls. I loved going to them so, so much.