Japanniversary #2

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Mike, Missy and Riley enjoying Jesus Christ Chu-Hi in the Honch

The day before our Japanniversary, Will woke up crying. His eyelids were glued together with green goop and dried crud was stuck to his cheeks. It was our first bout with pinkeye. I also woke up to the news that Trump had pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement–another day being embarrassed as an American abroad. I was already cranky as I’d spent the best part of the last few weeks moving this blog, as well as my others, to a new site as my old site is shutting down. Granted the last few weeks weren’t all been bad. The weather in May is glorious, and we’ve been to several fun parks. Missy’s family spent the night one weekend. We got a babysitter and revisited our youth in the Honch. Then we took our families to Kamakura for Mother’s Day.

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Kisami Ohama Beach in Shimoda

Another weekend, we found some cool tide pools and a relaxing outdoor restaurant in Hayama. Mike and I also had a fun night out with our friends Tak and Shawna.  We began Memorial Day weekend watching the fireworks at Zushi Beach. The next day, we drove to the one of our favorite places in Japan, the gorgeous Izu Peninsula. Last Labor Day we did a lot of exploring there, but this time we rented a house in Shimoda and spent the two days relaxing at Kisami Ohama beach. Shawna, Tak and their boys we’re also spending the weekend in Shimoda so they joined us Sunday for a day of fun and laughter.

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Cave at Hase Dera

So back to Friday, I spent the morning at the doctor with Will. Fortunately he was in good spirits. He normally goes to school on Friday so I had planned on meeting Missy in Kamakura. When I messaged her that I couldn’t go, she quickly wrote back reminding me that she had been a preschool director for many years and was not afraid of pinkeye. I was not looking forward to spending a day at home with a sick kid who felt fine, so Will and I bought some hand sanitizer and met Missy at Hase Dera temple. This is one of Will’s favorite temples. He absolutely loves the caves. The temple itself is gorgeous and one of my favorite in the area. I was simultaneously thrilled and ashamed to see an Ema (a wooden plaque that one can write their prayers on and leave at the shrine or temple) with the message “Please Un-Trump the World”. We ate some burgers for lunch by the beach before I had to go home and disinfect our house. I was lucky that our babysitter was also unconcerned about catching pinkeye. I’ve had a Girl’s Night Out on the calendar for several weeks and Mike had also made plans.

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Photo Courtesy of Lindsey

I met my closest girlfriends at a local izakaya, the Pink Pony Café. This will likely be our last evening out together before most of them move back to the US this summer. We had a fantastic night drinking wine, eating yummy food and most importantly, laughing and talking and truly enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t made so many wonderful friends since college. I know my experience in Japan has been so enriched from these amazing friendships. I still am in disbelief that two years have passed since Lindsey and I first met at SeaTac airport for our flight here.

32298736_UnknownWill school’s had sent information that the school’s neighborhood was hosting a festival over the weekend. They invited all of us to attend as they were having the lion dancers visit the school to bless the children with good luck and fortune for the next year. We decided this was a great way to spend our Japanniversary. I gave Will his new jinbei as an anniversary present. We got to the festival just after noon and almost immediately ran into one of the lion dancers. He approached Will who ran away then changed his mind.

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Mikoshi at Kashima Shrine

He got into his ninja stance then turned and charged the lion. He’d been excited earlier that his loose-fitting jinebi allows for many tactical maneuvers.  We made our way to Kashima Shrine and quickly met up with a bunch of friends. The festival is full of great food, and we got to see a Mikoshi parade which is always fun. We walked to the school and Reiko san, the principal was handing out envelopes for the children feed the lion. The lion makes its way around the neighborhood visiting any of the houses that display the festival lantern. When the lion entered the school many of the children got very frightened including Shawna’s son Ethan who howled when the lion came near. Will, of course, was not frightened at all and even ventured to examine the lion closely when it was 32299392_Unknownmaking its exit.

We hung out with Shawna and Tak for a while longer eating more yummy festival food like dumplings and yakisoba.  Shawna was more generous than I would be and gave the boys money to fish for toys. We headed home earlier than we liked since that evening we were having a campfire with one of the organizations I belong to. The Oakleaf Club rented a space at the base campground for a picnic and S’mores. It was a relaxing end to the day sitting and visiting with friends while the children ran around wild, entertaining themselves with simple things like sticks and fireflies and the pleasure of being outside at night.

A lot of people here complain about the summer. It is hot and humid which is challenging with a lifestyle that revolves around a lot of walking. I, for one, have grown to love summer in Japan. I love the festivals and the festival outfits. I love the beach and fireworks and just the general merriment in the air. I am so grateful for another summer season and another year in Japan. However, I will admit I am also dreading the summer as almost all my close friends are leaving. I’m trying to make the most of the time I get to spend with them and keep my fingers crossed that someday we will live in the same place again.  Wherever in the world that may be.

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Shawna, Myself, Annaliesse, Abbie, Elizabeth, Lindsey, and Kristen (Photo Courtesy of Shawna)

Last Year’s Labor Day Weekend in Izu: Butterflies, Rainbows, Stars and a Heart Shaped Cave

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