Monday, April 11, 2016

Sakura in Yoshino

A week ago, Saturday, we traveled 3 hours by train each way to visit Yoshino which is known for it's beautiful Sakura trees.  It was so beautiful.   We went with my friend Joya who is also an expat, but with the added benefit that she speaks Japanese.  We traveled by Shinkansen (bullet train) and two other trains south of Kyoto to Yoshino.  We thought it might be really busy because it was the height of Sakura bloom season.  Fortunately the weather wasn't very good, so I think the crowds were lower.

We waited until the sun hit the lonely tree on the hillside to capture this picture.  
It glowed in the sunlight.  

It took me a few shots before the bird posed just right for me.

I like mossy stone walls.

Volunteers along the path.

Sakura covered the hill sides.

We were given paper flags when we were leaving because a member of the Royal family (supposedly the Prince) was arriving.  There was a large welcoming crowd and we had to ask what was going on.  Unfortunately he didn't arrive before we left on the train.  If you ever plan on visiting Japan definitely make it in April.  It may be crowded, but it is worth it.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Spring from Japan

Hello there.  I'm sorry that I've been MIA from Elderberry Street. There has been so much going on here that I feel a little overwhelmed trying to narrow things down to tell you.  I could fill every day here with something, usually something really fun and cool.  I wonder how I'll handle life when I'm back in the U.S.?  We've even gone back to California again since the last post.  My husband had meetings and I stayed an extra day to play with friends.
I've titled this post, Spring from Japan.  Basically because Spring is ALL OVER JAPAN these days.  And it is amazing.  We've been on a hike from Tsumago to Magome.  I thought it was HARD.  Nobody else did.  Stopping to take pictures every other step didn't help matters.  * I've decided to keep this post just about the hike because there are too many photos to share.  I promise I'll post again this weekend with photos from Yoshino which is a famous location for Sakura.

Immediately when I got back to Japan I helped with a Ladies Retreat from our church.  It was at a monastery which was barren and cold.  Kind of like you'd expect, I guess.  There wasn't much warm water either.  I was in charge of the crafts.  I know that's a shocker.  We made journals because the theme was about The Great Love Story.  They were able to use them for the remainder of the retreat.
Here are the wonderful ladies that were there the second day. It was such fun to be involved with.

Back to the hike.  There were eleven of us.  We drove an hour and a half to Tsumago and hiked down to Magome.  It didn't feel like down to me for the majority of the hike.

At this point I was very happy to be finally going downhill.  That is just a taste of the beauty we saw that Saturday.  I've also been playing with kids, visiting the park for Sakura season and all around having fun.
 Grace and Lucy are absolutely adorable.  They noticed I was taking pictures and the show began.
 On my way home from the park I caught this Quince with the Sakura in the background.  
My neighbor, Meryl, was all dressed up for the tea ceremony, but her little boy was on a different time schedule.  

I'll leave you with this.  A serene little spot on my walk home the other day.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hello Again.

It's been awhile. The last time I wrote a blog post we had just returned to Japan from our Christmas trip to Kansas City. We were home one week and my husband had an arduous business trip to South Africa. Once he got there it was pretty cool.  One night he stayed in a preserve and saw a lot of animals. The trip there is a LONG one. While he was gone his father took a turn for the worse. Upon his arrival home one week later I had to break the news that his dad was gone. This was very sad news, but we were so thankful that we had just seen him. The next few days we planned a return trip for the funeral. 
This is the presentation of the flag to my husband after the service. Those military funerals are pretty emotional I can tell you that. We spent a few more days taking care of some business and getting a monument ordered. It was an emotional week and we really struggled with jet lag, yet again.  

Now we've been back a couple of weeks and my husband is off again to Mexico and Puerto Rico this week. We've done a couple of fun things in the past two weeks before he left.

Last weekend we visited the Toyota Commemorative Museum. My husband works for Toyota for those of you that haven't been around long. He's seen the museum but I had not. You might be interested to know that Toyota began as Toyoda Spinning and Weaving Company. Half of the museum is about the looms and spinning machines and the other half is about how the automobile business began. It was very interesting. 

Antique Japanese fabrics are beautiful.  

This is a replica of the first Toyota ever built. It was built based on a Chrysler that they took apart and studied. I hope you can see this sketch below.  It is only a portion and was blown up to a huge wall size. 

This is a replica of the first truck. It had only 65 HP. My husband's motorcycle has more power. 
The first car built for America. It had no power and evidently did not sell well. World War II came and the Japanese government wanted them to make only trucks. 
Eventually they were back at car production and the Corona was very popular in America.  This is the Corolla which is still in production.  Toyota has been on a roll since that time. 
About 20 years ago they brought in this steam engine as another example of the era of industrialization. It was a very interesting morning. I wish I could show you the kind of looms that they make today. Crazy fast and advanced technologies. I've made a little video of our visit.  Some of the photos are repeated, but you can also see the current looms.  Enjoy.

Well, thanks for hanging around through the silence and museum posts. Talk to you soon. 


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