Japan Trip – September, 2009

In all honesty, Japan was never on the top of my “to visit” list. The only reason why I wanted to travel there was to see my dear friend, Michiko, who I met in England 25 years ago. However, since visiting Japan, I have to say that it was an amazing trip…not only because I visited with Michiko and her family, but because Japan is a beautiful, clean and very safe country.
We left Saskatoon, Canada at 7:00 on Friday, September 4th. After a 7 hour layover in Vancouver….we took the recently opened “sky train” into downtown Vancouver, which greatly helped pass the time. At 3:30 PM, we were winging our way on Japan Airlines for Tokyo. There is a 16 hour time difference from Saskatoon, so we landed at 6:00 PM, Saturday night in Narita airport. Michiko was there with open arms. I can’t begin to express who wonderful it was to see her. The 25 years separation melted away instantly. It was like we had seen each other yesterday.
Michiko lives in Yokohama City, just south of Tokyo, but about 2 1/2hours by train from the airport. After getting her car at the train station in Yokohama, we drove to her in-law’s house to get her children Natsumi, who is 12 and Takuma, who is 6. Michiko’s mother-in-law is a teacher and performer of traditional Japanese art. She was giving a shamisen class. The shamisen is a 3 string instrument, played by plucking the strings with a pick called the bachi. The bachi is large and usually made out of wood or a shell. The music from the shamisen is along the lines of a banjo, however I found the music sort of mournful sounding.
Back at Michiko’s home; she lives in a condo on the top, 14th floor, her family opened the gifts that we had brought. The prayer shawls, angel pendent, photo book of the Coast of Maine and Red Sox hat and shirts were a big hit.
Finally, it was time to go to bed. Jet lag didn’t seem to be an issue arriving in Japan….thank goodness, however coming back it took awhile to get in sync with the clock over here.

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