ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Hello Japan, part 1

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
Friday night we went to Tsubame Shokudo for dinner. Hamburger patties are a popular food here in Japan, but most often than not, they are mixed with pork, creating a very moist and soft patty. This restaurant has the best hamburger patties and delicious food.

curry hamburger patty -- delicious!

the cook and mom

hamburger patty with cheese

The meal was the perfect way to end the first day in Hamanaki.

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
For birthday cake, we went to a very delicious cake shop, Boule De Neige. It was a beautiful day out, so we decided to eat out on the pattio to enjoy the nice weather.

delicious, beautiful cakes and coffee

the birthday girl!

After lunch, we did a little shopping and looking around the countryside. It was a little too early for the fall foliage, but there were still some golden rice fields waiting to be harvested.

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

On Sunday, I had to go to Morioka for my monthly ikebana test, so mom came along to see what I do. I think she enjoyed meeting some of the other people who do ikebana, and the other students also enjoyed meeting her, too. In the afternoon, we went to a 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
After getting ourselves acquainted with the room, we changed into our yukata and headed down to dinner. We were seated in a small, private dining room where each dish was brought out to us. We had an amazing dinner with 14 different dishes, each one of them more delicious than the one before.

a beautiful basket full of seasonal foods

a wonderful soup with matsutake mushroom and shrimp

crab legs

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 dessert
When we had eaten till we couldn't eat anymore, we headed back to the room and then to the bath. Mom used the private bath in the room, and I went to the larger onsen that all the hotel guests could use. I was in the bath for about an hour, and it was so relaxing and peaceful. It was a cool, crisp night and the sky was beautiful.

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!


Tawnya Plumb said...

How wonderful to have your mom in Japan! I love all the pictures... especially the dessert ones :) Thanks for sharing!

Aunt Connie said...

Stevie - I don't know what to say except WOW! You continue to amaze me! Your Mom had the time of her life! Thank you for making her so happy!!! Love you so much! Aunt Connie

Hisako said...


Nora Kay said...

Stevie, You did a wonderful job of posting everything. It was a trip of a life time and I enjoyed every minute of it. I wish I could go there every year and spend time with you like that. You are the best and I love You. Mom

Stephen Coler said...

tawnya - it was so much fun to have her here! the cake was a table-slapper for sure!

aunt connie - i'm just sorry that you weren't able to come, too. we ate and had fun for you, too!

hisako - part 2も沢山乗せるから、待っててね。ひさこも花巻にいたら・・・

mom - i'm glad we got to spend so much time together and have and do so much! if only you could come every year. . .

The FitzWilliams said...

Awesome! I'm so glad your mom could come visit - it looks like you planned the birthday trip of a lifetime! I just saw your mom's pictures, too, and they are wonderful. Can't wait to see more of you blog. MLW

Stephen Coler said...

the fitzwilliams --

thanks for the comment ML. it was a wonderful time for both of us! now, when are you going to come over and visit? :D