After our travels, we spent one last week in Ota, saying our goodbyes. Here's some of the highlights:
Mikiko graciously let us stay in her one-room apartment for the week. And her sister Emiko was with us for half of that week! Here we are in that one room. Life was cramped but cozy. Unfortunately, as soon as we got back to Ota, I developed something suspiciously flu-like. You can see I'm looking a little green. But it didn't keep me from laughing (albeit half-asleep) all the way through "Lonestar: State of Mind." Didn't hurt that Emi had the whole stinking movie memorized! You guys'll be happy to know we bought our own copy. Jeff slips into it every now and then... "Earl's kissin' his sister again!"
The group at Hitachi that I taught every Monday night (and that Mikiko took over) had a goodbye enkai for us. They were a fantastic group of students: fun and easy-to-teach. The group of them presented us with our own husband-wife set of chopsticks! Thanks, guys!
Friday night we had our last Ikkyu get-together. Here she is. This picture almost brings tears to my eyes...so many good memories at this place!
Me and Ayako on the left, and Yuka-chan on the right. Yuka is coming to Canada August 4th for a visit!! YAY!!
Mikiko and Casey on the left. Mi-chan had quite the night that night. Mmmhmm, she did. And Christian on the right, Jeff's snowboarding buddy.
Minoru and Tsugio Urano treated us one last time to lunch. This couple really made Ota feel like home to us. I'll never forget my initial meeting with Minoru in Kohikan, while I was sitting there by myself, studying Japanese. He was so excited to meet an English-speaking person that he talked to me for over an hour.
The Uranos always took us to interesting local spots, introducing us to great restaurants and attractions right in the Ota area. Tsugio is the one who helped me dress in a yukata last year for the Ota summer festival. And they also introduced us to our favourite tempura restaurant and the Tatebayashi art gallery. We miss you very much!
Our last day and night in Japan was spent with -who else but Joanne- in Tokyo. She took us out to this amazing Japanese pub in Kichijoji that serves big, fat, delicious gyoza. I'm telling you, if you go to Tokyo, get yourself on the Chuo train line, and head to Kichijoji. It's not as overwhelming as the rest of Tokyo, but it has great shopping, my favourite jewelery store, and even a cafe-lined street (with a Starbucks!) that leads to a beautiful park, complete with its own swan-shaped pedal boats. We'll see you in August, Joanne!! Woo-oo!!
And just as we were calling it a night, Tokyo surprised us one last time. Right at the entrance to the train station was this amazing honky-tonk band. I mean, they were GOOD! We stood mesmerized for quite some time. I kept wondering what on earth would possess a young Japanese man to learn to play the washboard...as I said, one last wonderful surprise.
And that concludes the Japan chapter. This particular Japan chapter, that is. I expect there will be more.