October came and went and before we knew it, we were smack dab in the middle of November planning for a Thanksgiving party with new friends. Let’s back it up a bit to the beginning of October for Rudy’s Sports Day celebration at his yochien. Sports Day is something of a big deal with the schools around here. Each class participates in a myriad of sporting events, marching and group activities. I ran the crab relay with Rudy and his class also did the parachute display (you know, the one where the kids flap the parachute up and down… kawaii).
The air base observes fire safety week every year. At the end of the year, the fire house on base has an open house. We decided to come by and give it a look. The kids got to dress up, Rudy got to shoot the fire hose, sit in the tacti-cool fire vehicles and rode a four-wheeler with one of the chiefs. Good times.
Something else our air station has that is pretty cool is Information Tours & Travel. The staff is predominantly Japanese and they take folks around different places in Japan to experience the culture. We went on their apple picking and steam locomotive trip near Tsuwano (my favorite mountain town so far). Everyone had a blast and Rudy ate his weight in apples. And naturally, the Rudy boy and EB had a great time riding along on a real steam locomotive. Bonus fun was some of the folks on the trip with us were people from Mo’s work and Rudy’s school. Good times.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, Mo’s cousin Markie came down to visit. I’m glad we got to hang out with him. He’s a pretty cool dude.
I’d have to say hands down the coolest thing we did last month was the Otomouma Matsuri (horse festival) in Kikuma on the island of Shikoku. That was a mouthful… We did this festival as a part of a tour group. The cool thing is it was only us and another couple. It’s nice to have that intimate setting for something so cool. Once a year in the fall horses run up the slope at the Kamo Shrine by young boys. Before the horse races, each temple in the town goes around to the residents and businesses to ask for donations to contribute to the temple and the festival. The whole family got to participate. It was awesome to dress up and walk around with the rest of the men, women and children from the temple.
It was the next day that had the horses and the clash of the titan god boxes. But, before that, we got to eat diner in a fancy seaside restaurant and enjoy the three different onsen in our hotel room. We were spoiled this weekend.
There is another part of the festival which includes carrying omikoshi god boxes in a face-off against other rival temples. Each box is carried by men from their corresponding temples. I was able to actually participate. These boxes are not light by any stretch of the imagination. All things considered, the men I was carrying this thing with had been drinking for three days straight, so I had nothing to complain about.
We hopped a ferry back to Honshu and met up with Granpa Rick and Uncle Rick.
With the Ricks here, we traveled out to the Sea of Japan for camping and hiking. We started off at the Motonosumi Inari Shrine and then made our way to the campground near Nagato on Omi Island facing the sea. We stayed in some pretty cool cabins that were on stilts. There was some cool hiking there, too.
We went over by the city of Mine to check out some caves, but we met with an unfortunate turn of events involving birds, a ditch and mis-timed foot placement. So, we headed back to the house (by way of the chicken shack) and took up shop to have fun with the family locally.
We went to the Kintai Castle and headed to Miyajima to show off the floating torii gate and the natural beauty of the island.
Cool thing was, EB had her Sports Day so Granpa got to witness something really kawaii.
Wish we could’ve had the Ricks here for a little longer, but they had to get back to Chicago. Thanks, guys for the visit. Being true to not staying still too long, I went of a field trip with Rudy and his school to the Tokuyama Zoo. We saw lotsa interesting wild creatures, to include the capybara, the Japanese Black Bear and the sun bear. Rudy had a blast as always. It was good to see him playing around with his friends.
After we got back from the zoo we had some time to kill, so Rudy and I went to the local cat cafe for some feline fun.
Miyajima seems to be our go-to when we don’t have anything solid planned. it’s a quick enough get away and there’s always something fun to do. We ended up going there for a fire walking ritual. Yep, fire walking monks. It was pretty cool and there was a line damn near a mile long to go over the coals. I think next year I’m definitely game.
Since the weather is still nice n sunny here (sorry all you cats starting to get snow), we took a trip to Yamaguchi Flower Land. This place is pretty cool and next to nothing to get in to. They had a huge ferris wheel for flowers, lots of different varieties of flowers and a really cool playground with the prototypical Japanese roller slide that you just can’t get away with back in the states.
Yesterday we went back to Miyajima to see the changing leaves. Japanese Maples are a pretty tree and their leaves are radiant this time of year. We might’ve got to the island a week too late, but the place was pretty nonetheless. Like I said, it’s such a beautiful and quick little getaway. Can’t wait to show it off to more family when they start to trickle in.
Today, Rudy’s school had an art festival. Since the end of last month, his school has been asking for empty milk containers, paper towel rolls and stuff like that to make crafts. They used this stuff to convert an entire classroom into a really sweet art gallery. I was blown away. Outside of Sports Day, this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen at Rudy’s school.
Aight, so that’s pretty much everything to date. We’ve got Thanksgiving coming up and then Christmas, prolly like five or six more trips to Miyajima (ha!), the holiday lights in Hiroshima and who knows what else. I know next year we’re going to start venturing off into other parts of Asia. Watch out world! Here’s some pics of the kddos. Thanks again for reading our adventures!