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Published: October 24th 2015
And we are off to Mito city in Ibraraki prefecture to meet my friend Mika and the wonderfully hospitable Masaki family. I've been the best of friends with Mika since she stayed with my family for 8 months on student exchange in year 12. Since then she and her family and friends ave been to Australia numerous times and I have visited her once in 2005 for 2 weeks. So after 10 years we we are back in Mito! We were greeted at the train station by Mika, her parents and her gorgeous 7 year old son Yotsuha. He has grown so much since I last saw him! We was keen to show off his big boy muscles and drag Bill's big bag to the car! At home we were quick to discover his love of insects - especially butterflies and dragonflies. He was keen to show us the Australian butterflies, and was dismayed when we shrugged and said we didn't know which ones were the Australian ones! Later, Mika's friend Sachiko arrived, and it was so wonderful to see her again - she has visited Australia once before and I have of course met her on my last trip to
Japan. She now has two young sons - a 1 year old and a 4 year old. Yotsuha had great fun showing off in front of them! We then went to a local Matsuri (festival). The Yoshida Shrine Autumn festival was amazing - Taiko drummers, singers, masked dancers and tonnes of free snacks thrown into the crowd! The drummers and dancers were on a float and were wheeled down the road to the main festival area in which the crowd followed. It was amazing!! Yotsuha had as much fun as us - we met Sachiko, her husband and kids there too! Later, me, Mika, Yotsuha and Bill went to an Izakaya restaurant and dined on multiple plates of yummy Japanese food in a traditional restaurant of low tables, private room on the second floor overlooking the lower floor of the restaurant.
The next day we set off to Tochigi prefecture to visit Jhum, a friend of mine from Thailand. As i speak limited Thai, and Jhum can only speak Japanese and Thai, Mika was the perfect translator! After a couple of wrong turns and stumbling accross a local Matsuri, we made it! Jhum was every bit as bubbly and
welcoming as I remember her. We sat down to the most amazing Japanese and Thai feast - at last HOT Isaan food, to which Jhum was surprised Bill could eat 😉 I think Mika was taken aback at the spiciness of real Thai Isaan food (Japanese don't eat spicy). After our tummies were full we went to the park which was massive and full of activities for families and kids and beautiful fields of flowers. After a few hours it was time to say our goodbyes. Arigato, kop khun kha, thank you Jhum it was an amazing day!
The next day we went to the Tokigawa museum but it was closed as it was Monday! Not to dispair, we took a lesuirely stroll around the beautiful park of Kairakuen and visited Kobuntei - a 3 story wooden house of the Shogun. A massive house overlooking the lake,it featured a large open traditional style rooms with Japanese screens with oaintings of various flowers and trees by artist Seihyo Tanaka. Afterward we went to the local mall for shopping!! After we greeted Yotsuha after school, we went to Kareoke! I love Karaoke in Japan - private rooms, songs in Japanese and
English and just all round fun. 2 hours of singing Beyonce, Flo rider, Lady Gaga and a blast from the past 'It's Automatic' a Japanese pop song which I learnt from my last trip and surprisingly I could remember a few of the words I could sing along with Mika. I sent a video to my parents who said don't give up your day jobs haha. On the way home we briefly stopped to say goodbye to Sachiko to say goodbye and came home to a feast! We rounded off our evening with a Skype to my parents and my mum read Mika's fortune 😊 Now we are bound for Tokyo - our last stop on this amazing trip to Japan. I feel very lucky to have lots of family and friends around the world to visit and even more lucky to travel with the love of my life Bill xxx
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