Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Sun Also Rises

The sun rising on the Pacific horizon.

Flying over the Pacific back to The States and about six hours into our flight, Ruben lifted our window shade, looked out and said, "Wow. Look at that. Let me take a picture."
We were about four hours out from Salt Lake City, had passed the International Dateline, and were letting the movie choices delay the fatigue and flood of memories that would come later.
As we settle down on this side of jet lag, we would like to thank you for your interest in our blog. It was fun to do and I reccomend it it as a way to share photos and experiences.

A great big arigatoo gozaimasu to my traveling buddy, Ruben. I watched you grow, Grandson, during this trip, and I ain't just talking about physical growth. Thanks for helping me out with all the luggage in the airports, for being so heads-up at the ticket machines, for your reliable sense of direction, for your ever-present willingness to try new foods and a new language, for your non-stop sense of humor (including fart jokes?) and your good will. I love you, Ruben.

Marsha, thank you for letting me go on this trip and for letting me return! Your generosity, creativity, and love knows no bounds. You show me why "there's no place like home!" As good a time as I had on this trip, it's great to be back here with you.

Our gratitude, expressed in mere words but heartfelt beyond words, goes out to the Sapporo Colemans - Vince ("Buzz"), Yukari, and Ren. It extends to all the Sato family and to their friends we met who are certainly part of our family and who are our friends now, too. Thanks for letting us be a part of your lives, your community, and for showing us that we are all community together. Peace.

Yukari's Garden

During our visit we ate healthy. Lots of fresh fish and vegetables. Also delicious, nutritious ramens, stews, and curry. Often our meals, even breakfast, included fresh vegetables (like, cucumbers, spinach, and lettuce) from Yukari's garden in front of their duplex.

Dream Beach

On our last Sunday in Japan, July 18, we trained and taxied to Dream Beach outside Otaru. Here are three guys who had never before been in the Sea of Japan which graces the beach. [Video at the end of this post.]

Ren, with Yukari, heading to the Sea for his first time ever.

At our rented beach bungalow Ruben gave Buzz a lesson in boxing.

Buzz gave Ruben a lesson in aikido.

On our way home we checked out MacDonalds.

A 100 yen (a little less than a dollar) could get you a McPork!

"La. La, la, la, la-la" vid:


... A pause in recounting our adventures to display the map of Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan, where all this took place. Hokkaido is also a prefecture, a designation like a state or provence. It is Japan's largest prefecture.
Most of our visit saw us in Sapporo and Ebetsu, where Buzz, Yukari, and Ren and where Yukari's parents live, respectively. Blog entries also featured Otaru ("Dream Beach" [preceding this post], "Day Trip to Otaru" posts) and Iwamizawa ("Fireworks - 3000! - on Ocean Day" post) and Noboribetsu (ninja theme park and bear park posts). All of these spots are clustered around and near Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital and bolded on the map.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Supper, "The Way of the Sword," and the Way of Airport Security

The last Saturday we were in Sapporo we enjoyed a great meal at the home of Chiemi-san (Yukari's sister) and Yoshio-san. Entrees included pizza, baked chicken, and sushi. Joining us were Yoshio-san's daughter's (Yumi Matsunaga) family, pictured below. (Not pictured, but present, was Yumi's husband, Yasuyuki Matsunaga.)

[front] Yukari, Ren, Yuya, [middle] Phil, Ruben, Buzz, Yumi, [back] Yoshio, Maru, Tatsuya, Chiemi

Ren, voluntarily occupying the pekingese Maru's cage. Maru's Mickey Mouse water dish is in the foreground. In the background is our dinner table. The floor chair was for Phil's sitting comfort.

After the meal we played the card game, Uno. Then the Matsunaga brothers presented Ruben with a shinai, a kendo practice sword. Kendo means "Way of the Sword." It is a martial art of sword-fighting based on traditional Japanese swordsmanship, or kenjutsu. The shinai, pictured below, is a bamboo practice sword used in kendo. Use of the shinai makes it possible to deliver strikes and thrusts with full force but without injuring one's opponent.

Tatsuya (12) and Yuya (16)
present Ruben with a shinai, a kendo practice sword

Perhaps you're wondering how we managed to transport the shi nai from Japan to The States. It wouldn't fit in a suitcase. The Delta ticket person in Tokyo Narita airport considered it a weapon, not a bamboo stick, as we tried to classify it. So we were disallowed storing it on board in a closet. Apparently that was a "no-ken-do."

We were advised we could pack it aboard as cargo and that because it would cause us to exceed our checked baggage limit, there'd be a $150 charge.

"May I see your supervisor?" I asked, not thrilled at having to pay that price for a practice bamboo stick we got for free, for goodness sakes.

"I don't want to argue with you, sir," she rejoined. "I'll let you fly it for free."

Our gratitude duely conveyed, we sought means to get it packagaged more securely for the trans-ocean flight. We found a domestic Japanese airlines willling to assist us by providing bubble-wrap and a cardboard tube for free. We checked the stick with Oversized Luggage and proceeded to go find something to eat before our flight took off.

Then we were stopped by two airport security guards who wanted to see our passports. (Was this the result of asking to see the ticket person's supervisor?) Satisfied that we must be harmless Americans, they bid us good day and we bided our time in Narita until our flight took off, Ruben enjoying the luxurious massage recliners available throughout the airport. The end of this chapter came after we passed U.S. Customs in Salt Lake City when we noticed several Homeland Security stickers on and inside the package of the "stick."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

rubens last entry!!!!

WWWAAAAZZZZUUUUUPPPPPPP!!!!!! I'm going to make a list of all the fun stuff that ive done or seen in japan. NOTE: its long. Buying gifts for my peeps, chillin with the fam,  playing with ren, going crazy at karaoke, watchin dvds with buzz, buzz testing jokes on me to see if they are worthy to tell to others, listening to and telling fart jokes, going into town with grandad by ourselves, going to cats eye(a gaming place) with buzz and playing rambo games and haunted house games, going by my self to the grocery store to get andie some kibi dongo and going to the 100 yen store to by my self to get other presents, going to the beach and doing akido and boxing with buzz, going on a bike ride with grandad in otaru, letting grandad get lost because he wouldn't listen to me when i tried to tell him we were going in the wrong direction, going to the ninja park, seeing and getting close to a snake we saw at a bridge, going to the historical village, going to lotteria to see the ten pattie burger, going to the bear park, going on a cable cart, spending the night at sato-san's house in ebetsu, going to the amusement park and riding roller coasters with kazuma and his sisters and seeing the best firework show i have ever seen, staying at kyoichi-san's house for a little while, riding a Ferris wheel, eating at chiemi-san's house, and STAYING AT YUKARI AND BUZZ'S HOUSE!!!!

things i didn't like about japan: NNNNOOOOTTTTHHHHIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!!!

I want to give a special thanks to grandad and nana for paying for the trip, my dad and mom and sister who let me go to japan, grandad for being my travel buddy and letting me use his computer, and most of all Yukari and Buzz for putting up with me and grandad.

                               BY: RUBEN COLEMAN

Eatin' Watermelon

Yukari's parents dropped off this huge watermelon one day. Oishii! Delicious!

Last day here. Have more photos to upload, e.g., our trip to Dream Beach near Otaru and the three of us who got wet in the Sea of Japan for the first time (with boxing and aikido pix thrown in for good measure). Also an evening with Yukari's sister and other family members and Ruben getting presented with a wooden sword used in the Japanese swordsmanship sport called kendo. ... These will wait til later. Workin a to-do list to be ready for the taxi tomorrow morning at "O-dark-thirty."

Mate ne ...