Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sister Suzy and Cousin Gabrielle in Japan

Visitors, visitors, visitors!! After 9 months of none at all, the past two months Joe and I have been busy hosting visitors galore. This month Sister Suzy and Gabrielle have come. We have jam-packed as much Japanese culture and experience into 10 days, including:
Udon, print viewing, shopping downtown, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kyoto, Sushi Row, Kobe, Himeji night-life, the Himeji Museum, Shopping at Casual Shot for "Engrish" t-shirts, Tegara Park, exercise on "Aneurysm Hill", Tea Ceremony, River City Mall shopping, Okinomiyaki at the Kousaka's restaurant, Ikebana with Eiko, a Himeji Castle tour with Toshi and Keiko, a hike up Mt. Shosha, a relaxing half day at Akane no Yu Japanese onsen, and of course delicious food and tons of shopping!!!
We have laughed, laughed, talked, laughed, gone sight-seeing, and laughed some more. This quick, yet jam-packed vacation, has been memorable and more enjoyable than we could have dreamed!

Kyoto and Kobe

Karaoke and Jazzercise combined...Suzy and Gabrielle before the Himeji Castle Tour

Suzy and Gabrielle learning Ikebana with Eiko...At Tegara Park

Print viewing in Himeji

Bike ride around the Himeji Castle Moat

Joe and Suzy in Kyoto...Suzy in front of the floating Tori gate in Miyajima

We look forward to our next visitor...JP CASEY!!!

We're having a baby...

Here are a few pictures of what life is like pregnant in Japan. The food is delicious here, but doesn't help the cravings much... We sure are lucky to be experiencing a healthy pregnancy during our year long adventure!

In Kobe with Sister Suzy and Kyoto with Joe

Waiting for the bus in Himeji

Monday, June 16, 2008


On Sunday, June 15th, we went to a beach in Himeji with some friends, Shin and his wife Yumi, Kengo and his wife Yumi, and all their
adorable children. The weather was warm and a little overcast, which was perfect! When we got there we each grabbed shovels and buckets and walked out into the low tide to go clamming! After we spent about an hour digging for clams, we went up into a lounge area to dry off and eat snacks. We had a great time playing with the little ones, which got us excited for our own! On our way home we stopped at Kura Kura Sushi (Crazy Sushi) and were treated to a wonderful lunch! It was a really fun day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Made in Japan

Our Japanese adventure just got a little more memorable, and exciting! Just as we were preparing to take a vacation to Thailand, we found out that Katie was 6 weeks pregnant! Although we had to cancel our trip, we couldn't be more thrilled!! The addition to our family is due in November, about three months after we return from Japan!

The Jellybelly.

Joe and the Jellybean.

Our First Visitors!

Ociel and Jeff, two of Joe's close buddies from Loyola Marymount, happened to be the first official visitors for us. We all hit it pretty hard, given we only had about 72 hours before they had to head back to China. For them it was as much a chance to forget about work and relax as it was to see a foreign country, so we did the sightseeing in Kobe, Kyoto and Himeji during the day and left the nighttime for random izukayas, karaoke rooms, shochu bars, etc. It was go, go, go, and extremely memorable.

Geishas in Kyoto

Near the port in Kobe.
Kobe. Okinomiyaki!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Festival with the Kosakas

In April, we went to the town, Nada, to join a mochi-throwing festival with Joe's old host family, the Kousaka's. Basically, men climb a temporary structure that is positioned next to the local shrine and throw mochi (a Japanese tradition sweet). If you catch one, you are granted a year of luck! Well, since Joe was the tallest person in the crowd, we are going to have a verrrrry lucky year! Actually, he felt so bad for the surrounding people, that he kept on giving away the mochi he caught. Does that mean he's going to be EXTRA lucky? We shall see...

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Spring in Himeji, Japan is definitely cooler than Phoenix, but it is gorgeous! The cherry blossoms only lasted about two weeks, but they were breathtaking. At the beginning of April we joined our Japanese friends in North Himeji for a Hanami picnic. Hanami is the celebration of spring and cherry blossoms in Japan. People from all of the world come to view it, as it is beautiful and doesn't last very long. Here are the photos from our Hanami this spring!


At the end of March, Joe and I took a day trip to Nara...which is Japan's original capital.

The weather was beautiful! The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, and the deer were really friendly. We fed them crackers sold in the Nara ...Joe even mouth fed one. YUCK!
We saw so many historic and beautiful sights, including the world's largest wooden structure and the world's biggest Buddha. It was a wonderful day!

Joe in front of the world's largest wooden structure!

Doesn't this deer look fake? isn't!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

3-nensei Graduation

On Friday, March 8th the san-nensei (3rd grade) JHS students had their graduation. The school and grade system is a bit different here in Himeji than in the U.S. Junior High is very difficult and there are three grades, instead of two. The third grade (equivalent to a high school freshman) students must take a very difficult test at the end of their 3rd term to see what high school they are placed in.

When the tests are over, the school holds a very formal and serious graduation ceremony. In many ways it is similar to our high school graduation...we process in and out of the ceremony, people sing and give speeches. But, in many ways it is different. There are no receiving of diplomas and there is basically no clapping, but a LOT of bowing. At the end of the ceremony the entire school, along with family members line up on the school's field to see the students off. Here are the pictures of Katie's students...