Monday, September 19, 2011

A year in our rearview and a visit of 2!

So...I started this blog post over a month ago...literally. But, as things go here in Japan, time slipped away from me and I am just now getting it posted.

Nick and my Japanniversary (1 year Anniversary of living in Japan) came and went, as did several months in the mean time. (We are now closer to our year and a half mark, but who's counting)

In between deployments this summer, Nick and I went to many festivals and tried our best to take advantage of living in Japan by seeing and doing something different every weekend. (Of course I did those things without him when he was gone, but I don't like to brag about it too much cause it makes him jealous!)

Then, just in time for Nick's birthday we were graced with two visitors! (We LOVE visitors....helps us feel a little closer to home AND we get to show off all that we think is special about Japan and our little world here!)

My Aunt Sharon and Uncle Pat! So glad they got to visit!
Uncle Pat and Aunt Sharon have been to Japan many times before...meaning, they've seen and done almost everything there is to do in our Nick and I made it our goal to create an itinerary for their visit that was full of things they've yet to experience!
Of course we showed them around the squadron...touring the hanger where all the helos are that Nick flies.
And took a picture with the famous MacArthur statue for Grandpa.

My aunt got to do some shopping at Ichiban Collectibles, the store I work at on base, and we all had a cocktail at the Atsugi Officers' Club, the "last remaining naval aviation Officers Club in the WESTPAC" that's something non-military tourists (or those with without military family) don't get to do on their trip to Japan!
Not only was Nick actually home from Deployment; (with such an up and down schedule, we simply never know when or where he'll be. Our family's visit was just days from Nick deploying again....absolutely lucky timing!!!) his birthday fell right in the middle of my aunt and uncle's visit.

We went to a fabulous restaurant in Shibuya for Nick's birthday dinner. Kozue, located in the same building as the famous bar from Lost in Translation, on the
48th floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Female Japanese dressed up in traditional kimono served us 8 different courses, each arranged and presented in a way that was picture-worthy. The food kept coming and though it's rare in Japan, we were too full to finish our meal! Oishi!
A day trip to Kamakura led us to a tasty tempura restaurant, Tempura Hiromi. (Aunt Sharon's not a big fan of raw fish, but had requested to eat tempura during her visit....lucky for her we stumbled upon a really yummy place! Thanks to Mari for her helpful guidebook with suggestions.)
Happy over her tempura!
Wall of sake barrels...

Though we had planned on getting to experience the "Annual Archery Festival" in Kamakura, we accidentally missed it by a day, but instead were pleasantly surprised to get to witness a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony! It was a first for all of us!

Not one to do too little in one day, we hopped over to Enoshima Island afterwards. (So much to see, so little time!)
My aunt's seen her fair share of beaches, but was excited to get to stick her toes in the waters of Japan.

On their last full day in Japan, Nick and my uncle took a 4+hour train ride to Motegi to see the Indy Japan Final. My uncle is a HUGE car fan; (He's worked for Toyota for decades, owns his own dealership, and has a car collection worthy of envy...if that says anything) so when Nick found out a guy in our squadron had a few free tickets to the races, it was too perfect of an opportunity to let pass by. Not to mention, this was the FINAL race in Japan....ever!

Over sea of Japanese heads was the American ironic

It's not a true Japanese performance without taiko drums!

Of course Nick had to take a photo of the helicopter...

I'm not much of a car race fan myself, but Nick and my uncle had a blast. Meanwhile Aunt Sharon and I did a little shopping. On top of getting to spend some yen at the Yamato Shrine Sale, (It only happens one day a month, so we were lucky it fell during her visit) we took a train ride up to Machida so my aunt could see (and shop at) the largest 100 yen store in Japan!

Just before flying out, we had lunch in Yokohama in one of the Sky Towers overlooking the city. After two weeks of touring Asia (plus they still had another week in Hong Kong after Japan) and eating nothing but Asian food, my aunt was craving Mexican...I warned her Japan-Mex was VERY different than the Tex-Mex she was used to...but for Mexican food made by Japanese, El Torito is pretty good.
After only a few days visit, we had to say to goodbye...which is always sad. With an extra hug for my mom, (Sharon's my mom's sister) we sent them on their way.

Saying goodbye is a re-occurring theme in Japan. Two days later, I had to say goodbye to Nick as on another deployment (8th since we moved here). But no worries, because goodbye's always mean there'll be a hello again soon! I just got to see Nick in Guam and hopefully we will have more visitors come out here for another "hello" in the near future!

Until the next visitor arrives...

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