Sunday, July 15, 2012

Around the World in 80 Minutes

This is our last konichiwa from Japan for a while (at least this is our last Sunday in Japan). We can't believe a year has already passed by. However, I am proud to announce that we are leaving with a bang! This last Saturday we spent all day (we left the house at 6:30AM and got home about 9:30PM) traveling around to different touristy places thanks to our friends, the Saito's. We had an amazing time and it will go down in our books as one of the most fun days here in Japan.
This was a picture that I took on my last day at Monden Elementary school. Usually one student will come get me from the preparation room and one student will take me back. Well, apparently there was more than  one student that wanted to make sure I got back to the prep room OK. :D I'm really going to miss those kids!

Emily is not trying to do an impression... she was just so excited to be eating cheese katsu. It was probably our last time eating it... Makes me sad.

Emily has turned Japanese. She received a yukata (like a kimono) from the teachers at her main school. Beautiful, huh? I know. :)

We had a party this last Friday at our house with a few of the teachers Emily got close with. We had take out pizza for the first time in Japan and it was pretty good. I still miss Domino's though.
This was the first place we went on Saturday. It's called Ouchijuku. It is an old village that people who made the trek to Tokyo from the north would stay at. The buildings are something like 200 or 300 years old.

I don't remember the name of this place, but it was pretty cool. We got to walk across a nice little suspension bridge.

The whole place had been naturally carved by the water thousands of years ago to leave some pretty cool looking stuff.

One area had a ton of rocks that had been set in several small stacks.

By the entrance, among the things that were being sold, there were snakes in huge bottles of alcohol. They tried explaining what they were for, but I didn't catch a lot of it.

They also had a few samples. That's a cricket in my hand. Wasn't my favorite, but it tasted alright.
This is where the title of this blog comes in. We went to this miniature theme park that made models of all kinds of different places around the world. One of their recently made displays, Skytree Tower from Tokyo. It is currently the tallest building in Japan, but I don't remember how tall.

This is Narita Airport with Korean Air right there. I will be flying Korean Air on Thursday.

Some places from New York like the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers.

Emily got to ride a camel in front of the pyramids of Egypt (gotta love the mountains in the background).

Although we aren't posting all of the places they had, this was one of the cool ones. Some of the pictures actually look real.

This was our attempt at being cool. Didn't work out so well.
Angkor Wat. We really want to go there some day.

That's me and the Saito's in front of the Great Wall of China.

Emily flirting with the beefeater... I beat him up afterwards.

Neuschwanstein Castle. One of my favorite places... Mostly because Sleeping Beauty's castle was designed after it.

The Vatican. Is that cool or what?

Arc de Triomphe. What else is there to say?

This is Emily in front of the famous "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" monkeys.  This was at a shrine in Niko called Toshogu.

Same place. The detail was ridiculous.

This shrine was way bigger than any that we had been to yet, so it was really cool to see some more of the Japanese culture in this way. One of the famous Japanese Emperors was buried at this shrine. 

This was also in Niko, the waterfalls of Kegon. I think the height was like 93 meters. Not the tallest or anything, but it sure was quite a view.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Again, we are really sad to be leaving, but so excited for the new adventures that lie ahead! We love you and hope to see you soon!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Pirate Ship, Some Cream Puffs, and Fireworks to Top it off

We had an amazing past week full of parties and fun! Pictures first...

English club at my (Emily's) base school. We are playing Funglish in this picture - an amazing teaching tool and way fun!

This is me at a special hospital school that I visited a couple weeks ago. The kids were phenomenal. Amazingly sweet with beautiful smiles and eager to try hard.

English bulletin board. It's supposed to the be the ocean and beach. A student made the little crab in the corner.

Happy Fourth of July!!! This was our party with two American missionaries and another American couple in our branch. I'm sure it was quite a cultural experience for the Japanese people there. We sang patriotic songs, lit sparklers, and ate bbq chicken, corn on the cob, and other traditional food. It was so festive!

Fireworks! We were on the balcony on the seventh floor of a building. I can only imagine what it looked like from the ground with tons of sparklers going off at once. Totally worth it. 

Yesterday was a holiday in Japan called Tanabata. All over the city in front of the shops were these awesome decorations. The explanation of Tanabata on Wikipedia says that Tanabata, "celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7." Isn't that romantic?!

A pirate ship. My favorite.

The members of our branch threw a farewell party for us with tons of food and fun. We will miss them so much.

I think this is called Aoi or hollyhock in English. These flowers are everywhere in our city and I have fallen in love with them.

Kinda weird faces, but look at what we are holding instead. Those are cream puffs from a train station in Fukushima City. Mine was mango flavored and James had chocolate. Holy smokes, they were amazing. Especially because they were frozen and it was sooo hot outside.
Other exciting news from this week is that we ran a full seven miles on Friday. That is more that half of our goal. We are planning to run a Halloween half marathon in October in Oregon, so we are slowly gearing up for it. I've discovered the secret to getting myself to run for longer periods of time...audiobooks. On Friday, I finished my first audiobook - The Goose Girl. It was so cute, and I would highly recommend it. I'm looking for new books to keep my mind off of blisters and sore knees, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!

Other than that, we are just trying to get everything wrapped up here before the big move coming up in about two weeks. Yikes! Where has this year gone?!