Sunday, May 21, 2006

Japan Wrap Up

As promised, here's Renee's account of the rest of our trip:

“Last 2 days in Japan – Back to Toyama ‘Tadaima’”

In Japan, when you come back home you say “tadaima” and whoever is home shouts back “okaerinasai.” It is a nice tradition, one that certainly makes you feel welcome, warm, a part of things, the moment you step back into “home.” Well, that is what it was like arriving back in Toyama. :-)

The timing of this visit was great; Junko had her baby on May 11th; Hana was born at 1:30pm, weighing in at 5.5lbs. She is small, but Japanese, so just fine! J In Japan women stay at a clinic with their babies for a full week after giving birth. Each patient has a private room, very much like a hotel room where visitors get to come in and out, the father can spend the night; the baby spends the night at the nurse’s station, but is otherwise with the mother. When we arrived at the Ladies’ Clinic, everyone was hanging out the windows looking for us – it was really cool. Jon got to meet my host father and mother, Junko (the youngest sister and 3rd of 4 host siblings), her husband, a few family friends.

The next day everything came back to me of what family life is like with the busy Konishi family. So many kids, the father’s busy business, the big house and many efforts to make sure we felt welcome and got to see all that wanted to in Toyama! After a quick tour of the house, I got to try to explain to Jon what life was like 16 years ago as a high school exchange student coming to the Konishi family. There is never a dull moment!

We went on a little day trip to Gokayama where we visited a historic village; we went to the Minzoku-kan (folklore museum) and Ensho-no-yakata (gunpowder production museum). I found an explanation to say “these museums were made in "Gassho-zukuri" style houses as built at the end of the Edo period (1600-1868). The two museums display utensils that were used in daily life by people in that area, such as tools for paper-making and silkworm raising. Also displayed are other historically important folklore articles and materials including those for the production of "ensho" (gunpowder that flourished in Gokayama as its very important industry). Visitors can get an idea of what the life confronting the severity of nature was for people in that area.”

We got a quick look at Toyama Minami Kokou, the high school which hosted me. There were parent-teacher conferences going on, so we just got a quick look around. It was showing Jon around the empty school where it hit me how much time had passed…16 years…wow.

Our busy day was rounded out with dinner at a yaki-tori house with Yumiko and her sons (9 and 5). Yumiko and her family just moved back to Toyama from Tokyo last year. Although no one in the Konishi family speaks much English, Jon and the boys were able to communicate through toys. We had a busy night and got a quick photo op of the Toyama-jo Castle too!

After a whirlwind good-bye to everyone, Jon and I got on a plane to Tokyo. This was such a good trip! Jon got a glimpse of what life must have been like for a young, 15-16 year old, bright-eyed Renee; the new foods, completely foreign language, different way of doing every day tasks and the richness and generosity of the Japanese and their culture. I was very happy to have had this opportunity – what a great idea Jon!!!

1 comment:

Renee said...

For some reason we are having a big problems with photos....I will post everything on Flickr tonight....I hope we can get some advice on how to link to Flickr too.

Bill, time to don your superhero cape again [which is getting a lot of use]. Thank you for all your help with our computer problems!!!!