Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Shonna and Blake Come to Visit

Shonna and Blake hired a babysitter and flew to Japan to spend a few days with us.  It was such a joy to be with them and to share our beloved area and friends with them.

They flew to Tokyo on Saturday, spent the night there, then flew into our little airport on Sunday morning.  This picture touches my heart.

We took them to our apartment where they changed their clothes and then we went to church.  They had prepared little bags of Utah treats and handmade gifts to give to everyone at church.  Shonna is amazing at foreign languages and remembered a lot she learned in her high school Japanese classes.  Everyone loved them.  After the three hour block, we gathered to take some pictures.

After eating, we headed to visit several people that we needed to see.  Then we went to Kadowakis for a fun evening and visit.

They served us these delicious (and expensive) little treats.

Blake and Shiho

They had each treat labeled and let us choose which one.

I chose pink, of course. 

Then Shiho had us try a very Japanese dish.  You heat some rice, put in a raw egg white and stir it up.  Then you gently put the raw egg yolk on top.  We were all good sports and tried it, but won't be eating that ever again!

Kazuko shared a delicacy with us- umeboshi.  She made these 19 years ago.  People save them and treasure them.  It is a long, difficult process to make them.  I don't know everything about it, but I know they are soaked in brine for a long time and the brine has to be changed frequently.  It is a preserved apricot (or plum) that is very salty and strong-flavored.
It was a fun evening.  They loved Shonna and Blake.
We then took Shonna and Blake to their hotel.  I had to take a picture of this beautiful bouquet in the lobby- pretty much the perfect bouquet.

Checking in.
We picked them up early on Monday and headed out on adventures.  First, Ken took us up Mount Takadate.  He regularly hikes up this mountain early in the mornings.  He drove us up to show us the sights.  It was absolutely gorgeous!
The view of Kamo- a little fishing village on the Sea of Japan

They all climbed the tower at the top.
We then went to the Jelly Fish Aquarium.

This was such odd behavior.  These fish were all gathered together up against the glass.  We don't know why.

Shonna loved the touch tanks and even touched a sea cucumber.

I love this beautiful shot.

This is the area they breed the jelly fish.  Shonna is checking out the newly hatched with a magnifying glass.

They were brave and tried the jelly fish ice cream.

We then went to lunch at Capsushis- where your sushi is delivered by train.
In the afternoon, we headed to White Island and hiked around it.

Shonna and Blake loved beach combing for treasures. 
We then soaked our feet in the  foot onsen in Atsumi and shopped in the little gift shop.
What's better than sitting with your feet in hot water while the sun sets?

There were a few lingering sakura in Atsumi.  It is such a beautiful little town.

Atsumi is a tourist destination.  People come to soak in the hot water and relax.  You often see people walking around the streets in robes and geta shoes.  These people were very friendly.  They were visiting from Tokyo.

A stream runs right through the town.  It is so beautiful and I love the sound of the water.  There are lounge chairs, tables, and flower pots along the side of the road on one side and the stream on the other, so people can relax and enjoy the beauties.  It is especially beautiful when the cherry trees along the banks are in bloom.

That evening, we had dinner at our favorite, Hana dining. 

The next morning, we went up the mountain to Hagurosan- a very famous shrine in this area.  It is probably the most famous shrine in the mission. 

Blake hiked from the pagoda at the bottom to the top of the mountain-  2,446 steps, and he did it in 30 minutes.  That has made him a legend in the branch- especially with the elders. 
Shiho Kadowaki made us these darling books.  A custom in Japan is to get a stamp from wherever you visit in Japan- especially shrines and pagodas.  Knowing Shonna and Blake were headed to hike the trail near Kyoto where there would be a lot of shrines, she made each of us one of these cute books to get stamps in. 

We were hungry after exploring Hagurosan, so went back to Tsuruoka to Kadowaki's ramen shop for lunch.

Mrs. Kadowaki has been helping her son in the ramen shop when she can. 

Japanese custom is to walk you out to your car and see you off.  Isn't she cute?
We then went to Zenpogi shrine nearer Tsuruoka. 
This is the now defunct train station near there with an ancient train in the train station.  Great place for a photo shoot.

Zenpogi Shrine

After hiking to the top of Hagurosan, Blake needed just ten more flights of stairs to make 100, so he ran up these stairs.

Shonna and Ken followed.  I didn't.  I stayed at the bottom and got three very strange bug bites that I am still living with over a month later!  That's what I get for avoiding stairs!

Me- at probably the moment I got the bug bites.  Man, my hair is getting grey.

We then walked down the street and took pictures of blossoms and flowers.

Man, we're going to miss Tsuroka in the springtime!

We then went to another of Ken's early morning stomping grounds- Shimo Ike pond.

We then went downtown Tsuruoka to the Tsuruoka Park.  This is the young women putting stamps in our book for the shrine there.  One stamps and the other does calligraphy.

People buy prayers and hang them up on these lines and boards.

One tree was still blossoming.

The next variety of cherry blossoms was just starting to pop.  They are my favorite.  There will be many more pictures in a future post.

This is the stamp/ calligraphy for the Tsuruoka shrine.

This is the one for Zenpogi, I think.  Isn't it beautiful?

That evening we attended FHE at the church.

We had okonomiyaki

It is such a fun group!

The handsome dishwashers.

How I love this dear lady- one of the two cooks every Tuesday.

The branch is preparing to do a dance for a meeting for President and Sister Smith because they are being released in July.  Shonna, and later Blake (when he was done with the dishes) joined right in.  It was so fun!  I will post a video of it soon.

Shonna and Blake left early Wednesday morning to fly to Tokyo and then take the train to Kyoto to hike the famous trail near there.  They had a wonderful Japanese experience after they left us. 

Unlike Kristen and Don, they breezed right through the check-in process.

We went out on the observation deck to wave the plane away- Japanese custom.

It was a packed-full three days!  We had so much fun with Shonna and Blake and are so grateful they would come all this way!  The people here are still talking about them and reminiscing.   We love them so much!!!


Michelle said...

It DOES sound like a busy three days! You guys are great hosts! Sorry about the bug bites.

Jared said...

We just got back from a LONG day in the car to Chicago and back with 5 restless and tired kids. We got them bathed and to bed and I needed to unwind so I came to your blog. It was the right choice. I loved reading all about your time with the Camerons! You really packed in a TON of things. I am impressed! It is so fun to see the people and the places and the fun. Thank you for taking the time to blog it. I feel better and can now face the dishes. ;) - PS - This is Kristen.

Joan Morris said...

Wow, you did so much in such a short amount of time. I loved all the pics and seeing Blake and Shonna in Japan. I'm sure those people are really missing you now.

Pal & Hatty said...

How awesome that they could come and visit and meet all the wonderful people that you and Ken have helped!! It is wonderful to be able to share your mission with your family - words can only describe so much - experience is so much better!! Shonna and Blake are such a cute couple!