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Published: June 10th 2006
My parents in front of Mt. Fuji
So just about a year ago from this time I received my acceptance onto the JET program. I remember shaking as I unfolded the paper, then went screaming through my sorority house that I was indeed moving to Japan in July. Then I called my parents. Before saying congratulations, my dad said "Oh we are coming to visit you during Cherry Blossom (aka Hanami) Season!!!" Hard to believe that a year has gone by since that time, and even harder to think that my parents were on my stomping ground. I was very excited for them to see "my" country, indulge in the tasty cuisine, see the old/new Japan, and get to see what I do everyday in this crazy country.
Their adventure began in Tokyo on a tour. From there they went to various places in Japan, some that myself am still waiting to go to (funny sidenote: when my parents were in Japan I actually left Japan to go to HK). Then, Thursday came and I was Kyoto bound to meet them. I could hardly contain myself to see my parents. The shinkansen couldn't go any faster and once there my feet I found myself speed walking
My parents went to one of the oldest castles in Japan
to the hotel to meet them. Once reunited I was sooo happy to hug them, kiss them, and hear about all their adventures! They seemed to like this country too! It was also an exciting weekend for me because it was my first time to come to Kyoto. I think 75%!o(MISSING)f JETs request to be placed in Kyoto but few are fortunate enough to teach there. It was peak cherry blossom season, I had just read Memoirs of a Geisha, and I was ready to "step back in time" to beautiful Kyoto. NDuring WWII Kyoto was one of the only urban areas not bombed because of all the beautiful temples and shrines. In addition to my parents meeting me in Japan, my close friend Hannah from Berkeley was in Japan, ported in Kobe for Semester At Sea. Whenever Hannah and I get together = fun and trouble. Indeed Kyoto was absolutely amazing, beautiful, rich in culture yet at the same time modern, and is definitely the one spot not to miss on a visit to Japan. I absolutley loved it! Kyoto
Thursday night my parents and I went to a very traditional sukiyaki restaurant. I
My parents at a shrine in Toyama, enjoying the snow.
must say it was very delicious, but I still have a special spot in my heart for mom's sukiyaki. After that my parents took me down to the Gion district. This is the area with all the geisha houses. As I said, I had JUST read Memoirs of a Geisha, so for me going to Gion (and anyone who has read the book) was magical. I could just imagine the geishas scurrying from party to party in their geta. We did see a few late-night geishas headed home. The cherry blossoms were astounding!
Friday morning my parents decided to have a lazy day at our plush hotel (was very tempting!) because they had been touring for 10 days already. Hannah called me just as i was about to venture out and met up with me to tour the city. Her and 2 of her other SAS friends, Brittany (another Cal gal), and AJ (USC- ggggrrrr) were also with us. It was such a treat to have Hannah around! She informed me on all the gossip back at school and was just good to talk to someon IN PERSON rather than a phone. I definitely showed them the ways of
My parents had one of their first dinners dressed up in yukatas.
the Japanese, like taking crazy photos with Jr High kids, and how basically since we are foreigners can get away with a lot. Our first stop was Kiyomizudera. Absolutely breathtaking! Next we headed up to the Heian Shrine. I think this was the temple used in the movie "Lost in Translation." The garden was what I envisioned cherry blossom/Japan to be. The sakura was amazing. We walked around the garden with cherry petals falling on our heads. We ourselves became quite the attraction for a group of Chinese tourists. Apparently seeing 4 extremely attractive (I mean basically model status! haha) girls in Japan was pretty cool for them. There were about 6 of them, and they all took turns individually taking photos with us. I felt like a movie star! Later that afternoon we headed up to the Philisopher's trail. They say this is the place to go for cherry blossoms and they were right. It was sooo beautiful! By now you would think I was sick of these tiny pink flowers, but no. We went inside the Silver Pavillion, only to find out that its not silver. Still, it was neat and had a really cool rock garden. Last
My parents and their guide before I could jump in and take over.
stop of the day was in Gion. We were on a hunt to find some geisha and did find a few that could not escape us.
Friday night is where the fun/debauchery really took off. I arranged for a set meal and nomihodai at a Korean BBQ for 8 SAS girls and myself. It started out great when the taxi driver cut us a deal and that NEVER happens, NEVER EVER happens in Japan. He was so impressed that I could speak Japanese. To tell you the truth, I was impressed wtih my Japanese. I blew my parents and the SAS girls away too! They looked at me in amazement, and I looked at myself in amazement! 8.5 months here and I can get by!
Let's face it, Hannah and I like to drink. She reminded me that I taught her how to shotgun a beer- important skills in college! So at dinner Hannah and I decided to drink- as if there was no more alcohol left in the world! The BBQ was interesting too. The waiter brings out a plate of food. We ask what it is and he says "pig tongue." After that, we just stopped
The old streets of Kyoto where geisha still roam the streets going from party to party. Was truly magical.
asking and just kept eating. It was great! At first they were very slow to bring us drinks and I knew that that was not good japanese etiquette, so I continued to push the button- we had 90 minutes to drink and we were getting our money's worth. 30 minutes in the water says "you girls like to drink.." Great observation! Now bring me my chu hi! I introduced the girls to the wondeful chu his. We also did plenty of sake bombs- in true America fashion since Japanese people do not know what they are. By the end of the night the we had the waiters chugging beer under the table. I told Brittany she should make out with one of them, but she declined. So the rest of the night...little hazy, but we all made it home safely, except for my dear and dear and very very precious camera. I had lost my child. Of course I manage to do something stupid with my parents in town! I am most upset bc I lost all my beautiful photos of the day's excursion (hence the lack of photos now). Makes my skin crawl. But well, good thing I do
Pi Phi Takes on Kyoto!
Hannah and I in the BEAUTIFUL Heian Garden...my favorite spot in Kyoto
stupid things now instead of when I am older.
Day 3, Saturday, I went with my mom to Nara. I was equally impressed by the shrines and parks of Nara. I can't decide if the deer in Nara or Miyajima are more vicious. We even got to see a traditional Japanese wedding. Narak Koen was beautiful, but by the end of the day I was a little templed out. Definitely want to return...all about doing it in small dosages to avoid overkill.
Day 4, Saturday, I went up to a rock garden and to Ginkaji...the famous Godlen Pavillion. It was so beautiful and so happy I made the far trek up there. I ended my weekend of sightseeing in Kyot and Sansujendo. They have 1001 buddhas in a temple- quite impressive. After that, I realized taht I had seen enough temples, shrines, buddhas, tourists, and geishas and it was time to return to wonderful Kabe. My first trip to Kyoto was absolutely spectacular. It was an incredibe city with soooo much to see and do. I feel like I could spend years there and still not see it all. Kyoto and Nara lived up to all my expectations
JR High Students
A photo everyone should do: Stand in the middle of JR Students in front of a shrine. You love it, they love it, everyone wins!
of the place. Now only if I managed to hang on to my damn camera....:-p. Hiroshima
Late afternoon my parents and I jumped on the shinkansen headed for Hiroshima- time to see where I live! Now going to Kyoto we had a glimpse of old Japan, now my parents were going to get a dose of traditional Japan! Welcome to the countryside! It was weird to have my parents in Kabe with me! As my mom walked the street to my house she goes "wow Casey, you really live in the countryside." Little did she know that just past Kabe is when the real "inaka" began. Indeed, Kabe is small, but large enough to have the amenities I need. They arrived to Apartment Sejurua Kabe 202 to my small apartment of Tatami rooms. I took them to my favorite Italian place for dinner. After that is where the real fun began: sleeping on the floor. I do not have a bed, I sleep on the floor. So, naturally, my parents were too. Yet my usual padding of 3 futons dwindled to 1, as my parents each got one, and my dad turned my couch into another.
Beautiful Cherry Blossoms along their travels
Needless to say Ryokan Casey was not the Grand Hyatt. The next day my parents went out and bought another futon. Crazy Crazy parents! hey i am not complaining! Monday afternoon they came to Kabe High School to meet my teachers and even got to watch me teach a class. The students were thrilled to meet my parents. One student told my mom she looked young. This made my mom so happy that she HUGGED the girl- something Japanese people don't even do to their parents/loved ones! I don' t think that girl will be forgetting my parents anytime soon, if ever.
That night my parents met my Japanese "family," Lisa and Brian, and made us amazing Enchiladas! Night 2 went a little bit better for my parents. Tuesday they headed tothe city and to Miyajima to sightsee. Due to work i was not able to go. That nigt we had the last supper. Wednesday morning my parents took off back to the states. It did bring a tear to my eye to see my parents go.
It was indeed a wonderful week to have my parents and Hannah here. Just as life was getting too comfortable here,
Kyoto had the most amazing cherry blossom trees all over....so beautiful!
its nice to have visitors to mix things up a bit! I think I did a pretty good job of showing them around, being their translator, and showing them that my life in Japan is pretty cool. I may have inspired those SASers to postpone the real world post college...we will see. Only one setback: my camera, RIP. Bottom line: great sights, great company, and a weekend I will never forget!
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