Well, it's been over a month since my last post. Sorry! October was a busy month with work, ikebana, and. . .
a visit from my mom!
After 12 years of living here, she finally made the trip across the ocean to see me. She would be here for 10 days, so I had a lot of planning to do to make sure we could fit in as much as possible, without her getting too tired along the way. It was a great trip for her and for me.
She arrived on the 14th in Tokyo, so I went down on Thursday morning to meet her at the airport. It was so good to see her coming out of the arrivals gate, and I know she was happy to see me, too. From Narita Airport, we took the Narita Express back to Tokyo Station (the airport is about an hours train ride from Tokyo). We checked into our hotel for the night and then went out to get something to eat. After her long day of travel, we went back to the hotel and rested up for the trip ahead.
|on the Narita Express back to Tokyo|
The next morning, Friday, we got up and around and made our way to Tokyo Station. Tokyo Station is HUGE and is in constant construction. Signs are posted everywhere in English, but there is so much going on around you, it is hard to pick out the signs and know where you need to be going. I'm sure that if I hadn't gone to Tokyo to meet mom, she might still be there trying to find her way to Hanamaki!
We arrived a bit early for the shinkansen (bullet train), so we made ourselves comfortable and people watched for a while.
|mom with her shoes off waiting for the shinkansen|
And then we were off to Iwate and Hanamaki.
|getting ready to board the shinkansen|
|a treat for the 3 hour ride back to Hanamaki|
|are we there, yet?|
|finally arrived in Hanamaki|
After arriving in Hanamaki, we went back to my apartment to put the bags away and rest a bit. I had made plans to go to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner, but jet lag was starting to set in, so we went out for a cup of coffee.
|the caffeine had kicked in|
|curry hamburger patty -- delicious!|
|the cook and mom|
|hamburger patty with cheese|
On Saturday, it was mom's birthday. This was the first time we had been together for her birthday in almost 15 years, so I wanted to make it special for her. We went to Kitakami, the neighboring town to the south of Hanamaki for lunch and birthday cake.
|tuna pizza and a cream sauce pasta with salty baccon|
|delicious, beautiful cakes and coffee|
|the birthday girl!|
That evening, we went out with a friend of mine for birthday dinner. And after dinner -- karaoke! It was moms first experience for karaoke, and I think she had a good time. We had planned to stay only an hour, but ended up staying two because we were having so much fun.
|in our own private room singing|
|singing a duet|
|mom sang "Hey Good Lookin'"|
|my friend, hideki, and mom singing a duet|
handworks village where they make traditional Japanese handicrafts. And after that, we headed back to Hanamaki to stay the night at a hot spring.
For mom's birthday, I wanted to treat her to a night at an onsen or hot spring. One of the things I love most about where I live is the abundance of onsen. There is nothing like a soak in a hot bath to relax and rejuvenate your body.
We stayed at Shidate Onsen. Each room has it's own private outdoor bath to realx and enjoy the views of nature. It was an absolutely gorgeous onsen, and the food was amazing, too.
|a split level room -- view from below|
|view from above|
|small sitting area on a green tatami floor|
|the room's private outdoor bath|
|the view from the bath|
|a beautiful basket full of seasonal foods|
|a wonderful soup with matsutake mushroom and shrimp|
|a beautiful plate of tempura -- all delicious!|
|the main course, platinum pork on a hot rock|
|one of my students sent this beautiful fruit plate as a gift to my mom and i -- so sweet!|
The next morning, Monday, we woke up to a beautiful day. We went out on the balcony to enjoy the view of the hillside and get ready for the day. We both decided to take another bath to refresh ourselves and then we went down to breakfast. We were treated to another amazing meal.
|breakfast -- breads, fish, vegetables, an omelet, baccon, salad, soup, all for one|
|getting ready to have a delicious breakfast|
|the coffee perked me up!|
The onsen was an amazing experience. Mom had said it was the best birthday present she ever got. I'm glad she liked it.
I think this post has gone on long enough, so I guess I will make this part 1 and post about the rest of the trip later. But I promise it won't be another month before I post again!