I took a couple more pictures to share before we find ourselves in uncertain internet-access territory, while we visit our friends in the south of Japan. First, another grainy picture from the window of our room:
The taxi will arrive at 8:15 to take us to Tokyo Station to catch our train, & I'm looking forward to eating ekiben (train station bentou) for lunch & having a relaxing trip to Kokura, where we'll meet our friend Tomoko & take the last train to our destination, Mizumaki, where her family lives. Tomoko was our first Japanese teacher & one of the highlights of our first trip to Japan 4 years ago was our stay with her family- her mom, Nobukosan; her sister & brother-in-law Keikosan & Kazehirosan; & their sons Shinkun & Daichan, who are a few years younger than Brendan. All of the boys have grown so much in the past 4 years & I'm rally looking forward to seeing them, as well as the grown-ups. Although Tomoko moved 4 years ago from our town to Minnesota, where she's working on her PhD, she spends part of New Years with us every year (we also exchange holiday gifts a couple times a year with Tomoko's family) so it feels like we're one, big extended family. I am very much looking forward to conversing with everyone, something I wasn't able to do last time because my Japanese language skills weren't up to it.
So, I'll be back as soon as I can to share our adventures in Mizumaki!