Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Fam Does Japan: Day 2 in Kusatsu and a final goodbye

Breakfast is served!
The last full day we had together in Japan, we went up Mt. Shirane. We had to take a bus to get there. Ohhhh, buses on windy roads - the fun is never ending!

This is Yugama, one of three crater lakes on the summit of Shirane-san (a dormant volcano). It's hard to tell on this cloudy/foggy day, but the water is usually a milky green color. The pH is 1.2 and is the most acidic in the world.
Onto our hike. Again, perhaps not the "intended" one the entire time, but incredibly cool. There were crazy craters, snow, flowers, grass, trees, everything.

Yeah, Dad's holding a snowball. He thought he'd be slick and throw it at us... too bad his aim is so inaccurate:) Next time, Dad. Next time.

On another side of the mountain, and after we had some warm beverages and got me a sweet fleece, we checked out Yumiike Pond.
Yuumike Pond Area Scan:

More 'exclusive' video footage!

We took the last bus back to town, and had some time to meander around a bit. I found my future home... I just have to kick out the owners, remove any large and unnecessary restaurant appliances, and hire a full time window washer.

We also checked out the Kousenji Temple.

That night, Austin and Dad were in the mood for food. So we opted not to have the big fancy ryokan meal, and instead try our luck at a local izekaya. Turns out both of the two izekayas we had spotted earlier close by 6pm on a Friday night. So we ended up at a little Italian restaurant instead. I was a little bummed the fam was eating Italian for their last meal in Japan, but they were far from bothered. We all really liked the food, and we had a commanding view of the yubatake and city center. There were alot more tourists in the area for the weekend, and we could just people watch. It was really special actually, to be kicking back with the fam in our yukata, over dinner, taking the town all in. ANNNDDD, to top it off - ice cream and canned cocktails for dessert! Yesssss!

NOTE: This is the long boring monologue about leaving the family which probably only my Mom will really appreciate - don't torture yourself by reading it!
The next morning, I headed back to Maebashi and sent the fam on yet another bus to the airport. I hope it's obvious from the previous posts how amazing a time I had with my family here. I felt so great sharing my life and some of the wonderful or even mundane experiences I have here, everyday. I also had the opportunity to go to many new places and make memories there with my loved ones.
Mom and Dad have been a huge reason (cause?) I have always been so interested in traveling. We traveled a lot and I am so grateful for those early experiences I had with them. Well, most of them. I can still remember a road trip we took when I was like 8 years old, to South Dakota. We were probably on hour 12 of 14 of the trip, and I wanted nothing more than to play my Gameboy. The cornfields were starting to blur, and I was quickly becoming the Tetris master. But my Mom insisted (by removing my Gameboy from my hands and forcing me to look out the window) that I appreciate the scenery around me. I was beyond upset at the time, but I understand her point now (even if I would've gone about encouraging this appreciation a bit differently). I appreciate all the public transportation available here and the chance to relax and take it all in during those long commutes. Japan is an amazing country geographically and otherwise and it was amazing to see so much more of it's beauty.
I felt extremely grateful that I was able to spend as much time as I could with them. But, that last day was pretty rough for me. I did a lot of staring out the window, but not because I was 'taking in' the scenery. I kept thinking about the fact that I wouldn't get to see, hug, kiss, travel, cook, play, eat, or be with them for at least one more year. We'd made it 10 months, and surprisingly the connection once we saw each other again was totally intact. So, I knew it would be possible... but, I was still sad. I will most definitely miss you guys, in physical presence, but I know we'll be good. Thank you so much for making the time and effort to come and make yourselves as vulnerable and incompetent as I am in this 'foreign land'. I loved every minute of it, and will treasure those memories, always.

1 comment:

The Watson Family said...

Well I finally got around to catching up on some reading...I missed alot!
I enjoyed many of the family photos; my favorite being that of Austin's sandals. Hilarious!

Hope you are enjoying the new year and school is treating you good!

Love & Hugs,
Nicole & Family