Because Japan is so far from the United States, I never really thought that any of my family would come visit. Both due to travel time and expense. But my mom and a friend of hers came to visit! They`re in Japan for three weeks, but because I have to work still, I`m only going to see them for a week.
I picked them up from the train station on Sunday. It was weird that it didn`t really feel like a whole year since I`d seen my mom. It`s probably been longer since I`ve seen her friend Susan, but that`s a bit of a different matter since I don`t know her as well.
When we got back to my apartment, I really realized just how much luggage they had brought:
And there`s two big bags that you can`t even see in the picture! Although one of the bags was so big because they brought me the clowns from my grandmother. As far back as I can remember, the little wooden clown always stood in my grandparent`s house. I was told that my grandfather had made it waaaay back in high school. And the little clown on top was given to my grandmother after she had a lung operation one time. And those two clowns always sat together, in my grandparents house, then apartment, then my grandmother`s room, and I thought it would be a good memento to have of my grandparents.
Sunday night just ended up being somewhat rearranging bags and messing up the apartment I`d just cleaned before they came. They did bring me some other stuff, like a jar of peanut butter, 3 jars of fluff, reeses pieces, about 35 more books than I`d asked them to bring, 3 more boxes of brownie/cookie mix than I`d asked for…I mean, I know they were trying to be helpful. But there was a reason I`d only asked for about ten books!
Anyway, so the next day (Monday) we were debating what to do. One place I want to go is called Licca-chan castle, and it`s Japan`s version of Barbie dolls. But an online search showed that the castle was closed on Mondays, so we went up to Sendai instead.
It was so very crowded. Apparently this was the week for the Tanbata festival. Tanbata is a Japanese holidayish type thing also called the Star Festival, that has a legend attached. There were these two people, Orihime and Hikoboshi. They loved each other so much that they stopped going to work once they were married. So they were separated, and only allowed to meet once a year, July 7th. But if it rains, legend holds that they can`t meet.
Because of Tanbata, there were many beautiful decorations out. Even the pokemon store got into the spirit of things by having Pikachu dress up as both Orihime and Hikoboshi!
Some of the decorations had a slightly more serious theme than others. Some of them were cranes that people had made specifically because of the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki all those years ago, and that theme was “No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki.” Nuclear weapons are very dangerous, after all.
In the park, we ran into both a cute little fake waterfall thing, and a big festival of sorts, and part of that was musical performances. One of them I really liked! It was a new-ish band called Monogatari. I loved one of their songs, but couldn`t remember the exact words, so when I went over to ask what songs they`d played today, they had two cds that had those songs on it. They were mini cds, only 4 songs each, but I still bought them. After all, since they were mini cds, they were half the price of a full cd. 😛 And all the band members signed them too! I even found the band`s official website: http://monogatarisendai.wixsite.com/poprock/monogatari
And while they were signing my cds, I got to talk to them a bit, which was kinda fun. I got some pictures of when they were playing as well:
One of the things I`d wanted to do was take mom and Susan and get a purikura picture set done. It`s fun and cute and the pictures are actually stickers! It`s kind of amusing, because the picture machine will usually beautify your picture quite a bit. Susan bowed out, but mom and I did it.
Also in the park, we ran into what seemed to be the tourist information center, because they had info in English. And they had a `try on a yukata!` thing for free. Mom, Susan and I all tried. ^_^ The yukatas were a little odd because they were two pieces, and I`d always thought that they were only one piece. When I asked, they said that it was to make it easier to quickly get people in and out of them, since we were only putting them on over our clothes.
After all that, we met my friend Kara for dinner. On the way, we ran into another friend of hers, so he joined us too. Looking at the menu at the restaraunt, I couldn`t find anything I really felt like eating, so I ordered off of the kids menu and got omrice. Because it was a kids meal, it had a snoopy fork and spoon with it!
I can`t remember exactly what mom and Susan got, but they are such picky eaters that they ended up switching meals. XD
At the end, all that was left was the long train ride home.
Tuesday and Wednesday, I had to work a half day each day. Luckily for mom and Susan, my schedule had changed last minute so the half days were in the afternoon and I didn`t get to kick them out at 7:30 in the morning. Oops, I mean I didn`t have to kick them out at 7:30 in the morning. ^_~
Tuesday we went to the grocery store after work, to get some food for the rest of the week. Wednesday after work we walked around town. Susan didn`t seem very interested, but I thought that mom would be. We went to the little bakery down the street that always has amazingly delicious sweets. I bought this little mango pudding, mostly because of the glass container it came in:
Thursday we headed down to Licca -chan castle. But first, we went to the Abukumado caves, which are only a 20 minute drive from Licca-chan castle. They are these really neat looking limestone caves. They do go pretty far into the ground, but at least it meant that it was cool! And because the caves were on top of a hill, the view was kind of amazing. I have tons of pictures from the caves, so I`ll only post the best ones. (If any are sideways, it`s because I couldn`t remember which way I flipped my camera when taking the picture in order to flip them back the right way). Oh, and we packed our lunch to bring to save money. ^^
After the caves, we went straight to Licca-chan castle. The front part really does look like a castle! I didn`t end up actually getting a Licca-chan doll, but I was really tempted, and probably will eventually 😛
Friday, we went to the local handmade craft fair. It`s only once a month, and I always go if I can. Everyone there is always wicked nice, and they were excited to meet my mom. 🙂
I brought Chiyo with me, out of my dolls, since so far I`d only brought the tiny ones. One of the vendors had a really low shelf that was the perfect height for Chiyo, to make it look like she was shopping. And since it was raining a little, I got a really good picture outside too!
Friday night, we went to the laundromat. Mom and Susan wanted to wash all their dirty clothes. While I do have a washing machine in my apartment, it`s been really rainy, so there was no way that the clothes would dry by the next morning, when mom and Susan were leaving. So, the laundromat. I got two pictures at the laundromat…one of Rosaire with the umbrella I bought at Licca-chan castle, and one of mom and Susan inside the laundromat when I ran out to the car.
Early Saturday morning, I dropped mom and Susan off at the train station. They weren`t heading home though…they were heading to Kyoto, then Hiroshima, then back to Tokyo for a few days.
My weekend wasn`t done either. When we`d met Kara on Monday, she`d mentioned that Saturday night there would be fireworks in the town next to hers. So I headed out after lunch to get to her place.
Because it had been raining, when we got to the fair, there was mud everywhere. Some people were even losing their shoes to it! And that`s where magick and having a good relationship with earth spirits comes in handy. I simply prayed to them for a little help, and not once did I lose a shoe, though it was close a couple times.
I won a balloon sword (took a picture of the handle) and got a lightbulb soda like I had last festival (so that now I have a set of lightbulb `cups`).
The big finale of the fireworks (which took place on and off for two hours) was a big curtain of light.
The next day, on our way to the train station, Kara and I swung by Shiroishi castle. I hadn`t been there before, so thought it would be interesting. And it was! There were three floors, and the stairs were as scary as some attic stairs I`ve been on. But the view was great. And there was even a free `try on a yukata!` part. Unlike the ones in Sendai, these yukatas were one piece, and they did a real bow in the back like you`re supposed to.
Then I went home. Finally, I had an afternoon all to myself! And I read the entire 236 pages of one of the chapter books my mom had brought me from my collection that I`d left behind in the states.
I like visitors, and I like visiting people, but a week of nonstop being with people somehow makes you tired, no matter how much you like those people, is what I learned. Which is a little odd considering that until last year I had never lived on my own before. I guess I got a little too used to it!