Because we are in Northern Japan our year started out with snow and cold. My friend Florrie was able to enjoy the cold and cross-country ski again.
One cold day this bird offered the perfect photo opportunity.
2018 started out with some fun music opportunities.
Speaking of the International Center we also had a lesson in making Mochi; a pounded rice ball traditionally eaten in a soup at New Year's. It is very chewy!
There is always good food to be had in Japan and it's especially nice when you share it with friends. There was a bouillabaisse festival in Hachinohe; our friends Yasu, Yuri and Mana invited us to check out the special menu at one of the local restaurants. It was very good, but Florrie and Chris think Japanese food is better.
We also checked out this restaurant that looked kind of dumpy on the outside but had a marvelous view and ok food.
The handicraft village was also fun. Nemo and I met some fans, we played with toys and we all learned to make homemade ramen and traditional Japanese cookies.
The end of March ( and supposedly the beginning of spring) was an exciting time here. Florrie's sister Joanne and her husband Allen came to visit! This is the second time they have visited us, they also came when we lived in Italy the first time. We were all so excited to see them! We couldn't wait to introduce them to real ramen.
We also all went to a bigger shine a few towns away. Here are the guys properly praying at the shrine. First you purify yourself, that is what Chris is doing then you can follow the steps to pray which is what Allen is doing. The big guy is enjoying the sake left for him.
There was a museum at the shrine; we all enjoyed this Ninja Star Wars scene!
Every October and April an event called Yabusame takes place in this region. Florrie and Chris love this event and wanted to share it with Joanne and Allen but they there were here at the wrong time. Florrie and Chris were determined and undaunted and were able to find out where they practice. The first day we drove up to the farm unannounced and happened to run into the owner. She was thrilled that we were all interested in this exciting sport; and when she found out that Joanne and Allen were visiting from American she had to give Joanne a gift; a purse she had made out of an old kimono. Florrie's brother, who recently moved to Georgia, will be happy to hear that the reason Ayuko (the owner) wanted to give Joanne a gift is because she had just returned from giving a Yabusame exhibition in Georgia and had been treated wonderfully by the American's she'd met there. Of course, I do always say that you can find more good people then bad everywhere in the world. Sometimes it can be a job to find them but they are there. Here are Joanne and Ayuko.
When they have the exhibition they all wear elaborate outfits, you will see those later. For now I am going to say good-bye. There will be another post (hopefully soon) so I can catch you all up on the rest of Joanne and Allen's visit and the rest of our spring. There is a chance you will actually see the post before next winter. Until then sayonara from Northern Japan.