Saturday, April 6, 2013

What I did during spring break essay...

Do you remember those typical essays teachers used to give students the first day back from summer vacation..."What I did on my summer vacation."  Well, we just had spring break, actually that was a week ago already!  It's been a busy few weeks.  
So, here's what I did on my spring break.  The week before spring break I was busy trying to stay caught up on my planning, grading and any other responsibilities needed to be done before spring break began.  A friend, Laurie Overway was visiting from Silver Spring, Maryland and I didn't want any of the school's responsibilities to be on my brain while she was visiting.  I'm happy to say, I did meet my goal and was able to spend the week not worrying about school things.  
Laurie arrived safe and sound on Saturday, March 24th.  Brian was gracious to drive to the airport with his "car" in order to pick up Laurie, but also my bicycle that Laurie took with her from Maryland.  It was a fairly large package and would have been difficult to tote around on the trains.  
This is my bicycle today.  There was a cover on it, but the wind blew it around and it's hanging there.  It rides great! It's raining today though, so no bicycle ride except for transport.
While Laurie was here, we did a fair amount of things, some of them were a first for me also!  The first full day Brian, Bette, Laurie, Hana and I all went up to Nikko.  On the way, we stopped in the Oyaji Buddhist Temple.  We were there a little over a month ago. 

Here Laurie is taking pictures of the Buddha images with bibs and hats.
When we arrived in Nikko, we stayed at an inn which tends to cater to foreigners.  You still sleep on a futon on a tatami floor and there are no North American size chairs.  I did have a great sleep, so it was good.  
Entrance to the inn.
Taken from the entrance to the room.
Toilet, bath, shower and sink room.
My futon bed.
Beside our tatami beds.
The Inn is located beside a river where there is a nice walking path that we took for a bit after we arrived.  

Laurie is shocked that a dispenser will give hot drinks!  
The next day Laurie and I walked to the temples in Nikko.  There were a number of large temples that are quite ornate.  I believe we spent about 3+ hours walking around.  It was all very interesting.  
This was interesting.  We were wondering why a temple was painted on the front of this building.  They were renovating the building and it was protecting the temple by putting up a building around the actual original structure.

Hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil. 
This was on one of the entrances to a temple area.  See how ornate it is?
We also walked through the villa where the Emperor and Empress stayed during World War II and also used it as a vacation spot.  
Entrance to the Villa

One of the 106 rooms inside. Notice the carpet, which is on tatami mats.  Those are sliding doors.
We also walked to a couple of waterfalls.  

We even saw some snow monkeys.  See the one sitting on the fence?  

We spent a few days at the VanderHaak's cabin near Sendai, and Bette took us to Matsushima and then headed towards Ishinomaki, where there was a lot of devastation because of the 3/11 earthquake/tsunami.  It is quite flat there, so when the huge waves came, no high places were nearby.  

One of the new things I was able to experience was riding the Shinkansen from Sendai to Tokyo.  Normally it could take as little as 4 hours driving.  Taking the Shinkansen took about 3 hours.  It is quite a smooth ride.  I do have a 6 minute video if you wish to watch here.  
The following day, Laurie and I met up with Rick Seely and he took us on a tour of Tokyo.  We saw a number of things, Tokyo Station, Emperor's Palace area, Ueno, Shibuya and much more.  Here are a few pictures of what we saw.  
In front of the Imperial Palace property

10 tracks across!
Sky Tree, Beer mug and ???

In a HUGE cemetery.  The sakura were out.  
Here is a video of the intersection by the Shibuya train station.  It is during the day on a Thursday, so not nearly as many people as there would be in the evening/night of a weekend, but still interesting to watch.  

Friday, Laurie and I spent the day staying in Kiyose and Higashi Kurume area.  We visited CAJ and just watched some movies.  It was a good relaxing day after a busy week.  
Saturday, Laurie flew out of Narita Airport.  We took the train to the airport, another first for me.  
Sunday was Easter!  He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!  I went to the  8:30 a.m. "sunrise" service at Kurume Bible Fellowship.  I also went to the place I was going to move into to check out what items I would need in order to live there.  It was a good week that ended with the celebration of Jesus' resurrection!  What a good way to end spring break!  

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