Sunday, November 20, 2016

Japan - Day 4

We woke up early before Masaru had to go to work.  And this picture might just be my favorite picture of my whole trip to Japan.  I reverently snuck it during our scripture study. :)  It's beautiful.

It's a very joyful thing for me to see familiar things around their home like a primary children's songbook, Ensigns, Friends and lesson manuals but just in Japanese instead of English.  To think that my dear friend who lives on the other side of the world is just like me - she is trying to raise her family in the gospel and be a good mom.  And do her calling and have scripture study and family prayer.  And to think that there are a hundred thousand other Japanese saints doing the same thing.  And in countries all over the world.  The same scriptures, the same doctrine, the same truth.  It's a wondrous thing.  I loved seeing a glimpse of this.

Getting ready
I didn't get my two hours to do my makeup but I had fun watching Mie get her kids ready for school.  Tasuku in his little uniform in front of their house. 

Shiki got to ditch school and come with us to hike the beautiful Mt. Takao!


Walking up a river.  An elderly man took us up this way. 
I would say that 80% of the people out hiking Mt. Takao were elderly people...with their hats and walking sticks.  I love it.  And every. SINGLE. person you passed greeted you cheerfully.  The man who took us up this river said "konnichiwa" when he saw us and when Joey said it back, the man enthusiastically congratulated him on his amazing Japanese (in Japanese).  Such a encouraging people.  

Here's the top of Mt. Takao where you are supposedly supposed to be able to get a peek of Mt Fuji.   (our 3rd out of 4 failed attempts)

top of the mountain ice cream selfies

 On the way down we took a different trail and it wasn't anything like the way up.  It was like a paved street with temples and shops - it was crazy.  Joey liked the gigantic cyprus trees. 

And I liked the Takao Taiyaki (face pancakes with stuff inside like sweet bean paste or custard)

We rode the train back with Mie and Shiki and soaked up our last minutes together.

And then said good-bye.  Hope it's not another 15 years before we see each other again.  <3 br="">

We rode the train back to meet up with our traveling homies at Sensoji (Asakusa Temple).  This place was insane with people.  It was probably the most touristy place we visited in Tokyo. The road leading up to it was lined with tourist shops and you could hardly move.  The temple was huge and awesome. This was the oldest temple in Tokyo - 645 AD but this is the reconstructed temple built after WWII. 

 It was a fateful day at Sensoji.  Victoria and I paid 100 yen each to get our fortunes. All fortunes are not created equally...

Victoria actually did have a lost article (her backpack with their passports!) be found but it did take a while.  So that totally came true.   My favorite line in mine is "new problems AND mistakes from the past come together, making us worry too much".  That's crazy bad luck.  It's impossible for me to get what I want.  I give up.  No. 82 is a rough draw.

Fortune smiled on us however and we found this coconut drink. 
 That night we went to the ever mysterious Ninja Restaurant!  Such a funny place.  They make you wait outside for a while and then take you in small groups for "ninja training" - which is basically you walking through dark secret passageways and crouching and ducking.  The food was super expensive and pretty good but you were mostly paying for the atmosphere I think.  I'm sure it's mostly Americans who eat there.  There was a magician who was crazy good and it was just a fun night.

Manon's card which Mike Malmborg wrote "Stay Cool" ended up in the magician's inside pocket in a sealed envelope!  Witchcraft I tell you.

End of day 4.  Phew!

Japan - Day 3


This day started with an early morning round of disc golf for the guys.  Joey got an ACE on hole 7!!  Good way to start the day. 
They said that it was a cultural experience playing disc golf in Japan because they were surprised to see it crowded! and with mostly old ladies!!  Japan probably has the most active old folks of any country.

For lunch Mike took us to one of our favorite lunches ever at a little place right by their house that just looked like a house with a menu stand out front.   You couldn't order - you just ate what they were making.  It was seriously delicious.  It even has a Michelin star.

Then the five us wandered off to explore Tokyo for a bit.   We tromped all over until we got to the Tokyo Municipal Building.   We were stopped in the courtyard by some cute high school girls who were taking a poll about tourists and so we answered all their questions.  We know a lot about ourselves being tourists so we got 100%.  Here's my attempt at a panoramic shot of the courtyard.

Then we took the elevator to the top for some amazing views of Tokyo. 

Here's one of Troy's photos  (this is another place you would be able to see Mt. Fuji if it wasn't cloudy - 2nd of 4 attempts. :)  )

We had a little time to kill before Joey and I took off to Hachioji to go see Mie Shimai - so Mike found us a quirky place to visit called Shinjuku Golden Gai.  It's just this tiny little part of Shinjuku - only 6 narrow alleyways actually - just made up of tiny (TEENY tiny!) shanty bars and clubs.  I'm sure this place is hopping at night but we were curious how many people could even fit in these little places!  It was actually a really cool and funky place to see.  And I think Mike read something about it being torn down in the near future - so I'm glad we got to see it.  

And we just stumbled on this random (but turns out famous) shrine called Hanazono Shrine.  So that was a plus.  This is actually one of the most historical shrines in Japan - it was build in the mid-17th century and it dedicated to the god of fertility and worldly success.  And since it's right in downtown Shinjuku - it's a favorite place for businessmen to come and pray on their lunch break.  It was pretty happening when we were there.  People coming to quickly clap and pull the rope to ring the bell, clap again and they were on their way.     

Then we said good-bye to our friends and were off to Hachioji.   It was about an hour train ride and I would get to see my beloved Mie Shimai and meet her kids!!   I was really nervous though about communication.  My Japanese is terrible and she doesn't speak much English.  But when we got to Hachioji station - I called her and it was SO good to hear her voice!!  And she pulled up in her little car to pick us up and it was like no time had passed. She's so warm and immediately puts you at ease.
Mie is my best friend from my mission.  Miles Shimai and I taught her for 4 months when I lived in Kofu.  And then I transferred but she would still come and visit me on p-days.  And then she got baptized just before I left!!!   She visited me a couple times in America and a year after I got home, I got to come back and be her escort when she went through the temple.  I just love this girl with all my heart.

I finally met her 10 year old daughter Shiki!!  I was so impressed by this girl.  She was so mature and sweet and helpful.  I love her relationship with Mie.   It was so fun to see Mie as a MOM! 

And her 5 year old son Tasuku.   He was so funny - he just loved Joey.  I'd try to talk to him and he didn't have much interest in me but climbed right up on Joey's lap.  He would talk and talk to Joey even though Joey had no idea what he was saying - but that didn't seem to bother him.

And unbeknownst to me - Mie had invited Kyotani Shimai!!  Kyotani Shimai was the cutest little missionary friend ever.  We served with a lot of the same people but were never companions.  But it was so good to see her!

Kyotani Shimai (well now she's actually Akiko Sawada - married with FOUR kids!), Me, and Mie Shimai

We talked in Japanese for 2 hours straight!  My brain hurt so bad and my smile muscles ached.  Oh it was good times.  Joey was a good sport and just quietly ate his food and was very reverent. :)

Here's everybody - Kyotani Shimai and her 4 kids and Masaru (who had just gotten home from work) and Mie and their two kids. 

That night before we went to bed we got to do a real Japanese ofuro - a deep bathtub used for soaking to relax you before bed.  They use the hot water for multiple people so you use a shower to get clean before you get in.  The whole ofuro room is tiled and there is a drain in the middle between the bath and the shower.  We were thinking our kids would love that room because it's completely splash proof.  We soaked, relaxed and went up to bed.

As I was going upstairs - Mie asked me what time to wake up and how long I needed to get ready in the morning.  I said I needed 2 hours to do my makeup.  It takes me a while to look this good.  She and Masaru got a big kick out of that.  I love that she laughs at everything I say.  Even though it's totally rude to laugh at that joke.  :)

Went to bed very happy.

Every story has a beginning...

Joey and Katie first met in Mr. Hawkes 3rd grade class at Valley Elementary. They became good friends in Jr. High and best friends in High School. Katie wrote to Joey on his mission in Tiajuana and Joey wrote to Katie later on her mission in Tokyo. Years later at the ripe old age of 25, these best friends finally fell in love... or maybe just realized they were already in love. They got married on January 22, 2004.

happy kids

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