Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Party!

Halloween at Shirasagi Residence. We hosted a traditional Halloween bash for the community and their children, which included pumpkin carving, costume contests, and of course, trick or treating! It was so fun explaining a completely foreign holiday to these people, when in the states we sometimes took this awesome holiday for granted. If you're wondering what Japanese Elementary School students look like, just take a look at our costumes, and you might get a pretty good idea!


On Thursday night, Katie met with her friend, Jodi, to have a lesson in Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). Their friend, and teacher, Eiko, led them through a step-by step process of how to properly arrange flowers the Japanese way. There is a definite science to this cultural tradition. For her first time with Ikebana, Katie did a pretty good job. Her "sensei" even said that she was a natural!!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Apple Orchard and Waterfall

On Sunday, October 21st we met with our new friends, the Ide-sans and drove to an apple orchard about 1 1/2 hours northwest of Himeji! We ate unlimited fresh, delicious apples! We met their daughter, son-in-law, and their two adorable granddaugthers, Asahai (age 4) and Aoi (age 3). After Joe carted them around on his shoulders and we played the "1,2,3 weeee" game, they became our best friends. After we stuffed our faces full of apples, we went to a gorgeous waterfall. We finished the day off with hoto cohee (hot coffee) and ice cream! When Joe said "ice cream" the girls knew what it was right away! They screamed "ica creama!" I guess ice cream is a universal word! We had a wonderful time, and are so lucky to have made these new friends.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nada Festival (AKA Fighting Shrines)

One of the most famous and historic festivals in all of Japan is called the Fighting of the Shrines. Historically, over 1000 years ago, the current emperor of Japan observed as two portable shrines collided as they were headed opposite directions across a bridge near the community of Nada. Every year since, they have held a festival, in which the portable shrines of the different areas within Nada purposefully crash into one another. This festival is acknowledged as the most dangerous in all of Japan, as there are a number of injuries and deaths each year.

Because it is such a famous festival, the price for a tatami mat with a view can go for as much as $20,000! Luckily, our dear friends, the Kosakas, are members of this specific community, so our mat was free because their children were involved in the festival.

Cool story, while walking around in the shrine grounds overlooking the festival, we started chatting with a really sweet girl. She seemed to ask a lot questions for not knowing us all that well, but we came to find that she is a reporter with the Kobe Shinbun (Newspaper)! The next day, amongst all of the stories in and surrounding the Nada Festival, there was a blip about Katie Casey-san and Joe Casey-san, and how they were awestruck because they don't have festivals as dangerous and beautiful as this in America! Cool, huh?

Shinkaike Festival!

Nearly every community in Japan has their own festival in the month of October, celebrating the coming of Autumn. Some festivals are Nationally renown, with an elaborate history, others are more quaint. On this particular weekend, the community of Shinzaike held their festival, and welcomed the English teachers living in the area to help celebrate. It begins at 9AM on a Sunday morning, with a traditional raising of the portable shrine, followed by a shot of sake! We spend the better part of a day parading the shine around town and showing off our stuff to the other communities. Mecha-Tanoshikata Desu! [So much fun!]