Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tanabata celebration at Mandai Kaikan

This is actually an old post....well, old pictures, new (late) post.  Since it's Tanabata time again, I figured I could go ahead and finish up what I started a long time ago.  

We were invited to Mandai Kaikan to participate in a community event to celebrate Tanabata, the Star Festival. A beautiful festival that celebrates the time honored heart-string-tugger of a story where two lovers just can't seem to be together.

We began the morning with origami...Mackenzie's favorite!!!  
We learned so many new origami foldings.



Boy had a harder time with the origami, but he was super proud of his chain.


Sooooooo much origami!!!

And, here's why we have so much origami....we got our own bamboo branch to decorate!


After we decorated our branches it was time for lunch.  We had delicious onigiri...my favorite!  Since Mackenzie hadn't quite reached the point in her diet where she was willing to taste anything other than white rice and fried chicken....she had a turkey and cheese sandwich.  Boy devoured his onigiri!

Mandai Kaikan

After lunch the kids ran around in the yard playing games and catching grasshoppers.  It always amazes me how easily kids can just pick up on any game or activity, even though my kids only understand minimal Japanese, and most of these kids understand small amounts of English.


It's hydrangea season!  

Playing a game while waiting their turn
for the tea ceremony.
After the kids worked out all of their energy, we made our way to the back room where we took part in our first tea ceremony.  The kids were brought in and they all sat on their knees all around the edge of the room.  The lady in the kimono explained what was going on (it was all in Japanese.)  We did learn the names of some of the instruments used in making tea.



Yummy dessert before the tea :)  The ladies that were hosting the ceremony were so impressed that Boy loved hot green tea as much as he did.  In fact, before he was given his cup they told me that it was okay if he didn't drink it.  Maybe most American kids can't handle the sophisticated tastes of this glorious drink....The Boy can!


So, first he put the tea in the cup.


Next, he added the hot water.  After that he used the whisk to "swish swish" it really fast until there was a bit of foam on the top.


Then, he enjoyed his tea.  The girl even drank her tea today!  I was quite impressed with that!


After the day's festivities we wandered back to the train station and then back home.  We were treated to an unexpected visitor on the train platform.

Just a girl on the train with a bamboo branch :)




Almost a weekend of windsurfing in Tsukuihama

A few weeks ago Tsukuihama hosted the ANA Windsurfing World Cup and Garytt and I decided to make our way over there to check out the action and visit our friends!  After dropping Mackenzie off for dance classes, we made our way to the train station and on the way to the beach!  


However, we quickly realized that it was not going to be the perfect day to watch surfers on the water.  Why?  Because it was raining.  A lot.  Now, what to do....Junko suggested we visit Mandai Kaikan to see a little history of the area and look at local crafts.  So...with raincoats and umbrellas in hand, we made our way to Mandai Kaikan!


Mandai Kaikan (Mandai House) was the residence of Junshiro Mandai, who was the chairman for the Imperial Bank and Sony.  He was also a consultant for the Bank of Japan and Toyota, as well as an educator and director of Aoyama Gakuin University.  The Mandai family moved to Tsukuihama in the late 1940s and was beloved by the community.  After the death of Junshiro and his wife, the family gave the house to the city of Yokosuka. 

The first thing we were able to experience was the most amazing origami I've ever seen!  There were cranes so small that they could sit on my fingernail....they were actually smaller than my nail!  How?!  I don't even understand how something so small gets folded so many times!!!  Garytt and I learned how to fold a few origami pieces.  We were the only Americans in the building at the time, and this event seemed to be set up so that the local community could share their beautiful area and culture with foreigners. 

This is one continuous piece of paper, folded into many tiny cranes!  
Seriously...how?!


The Boy was quickly recruited to play an origami game.  They had a wooden board that was about three feet by one foot, covered in blue paper and then it had different origami pieces glued onto it to make it into a pond.  So, there were flowers and lily pads.  Then, Garytt was given an origami frog which he then tried to hop along the lily pads to the end.  It took him a bit, but he managed to get his frog across a few times.  He could have sat there all day with Momo and Kenta competing....I had to tell him a few times not to cheer so loudly because there were several people there listening to the lady play the Koto (I think that's what it is).


The music was hypnotizing.  Especially with the open windows, slight breeze and the sound of the rain gently pitter-pattering outside.  


Junko arranged for us to join a tea ceremony.  The local school was hosting a tea ceremony several times a day during the windsurfing weekend.  So, we entered the room with the Nakajima family and each took a seat.  The kids explained the whole ceremony to us...where each piece of the ceremony came from (snacks, tea, dishes, and some of the decorations).  We were given a delightful cookie...I could have eaten a whole plate of these yummy creations!


At the end of the ceremony we were able to ask questions and then see how they assemble the tea box.  It was a lot of fun to see how it all works and I was glad that they did it in English so that we could actually understand what was going on.  


Here's the tea set.  The box on the upper right of the picture holds everything you see on the table, well, except for the tea pot and water basin.  It all folds nicely into little pieces, or fits one inside another and then the lid fits on top.  Then, it can be moved from ceremony to ceremony easily.


After the tea ceremony Garytt and I had to get back to Yokosuka so we could get Mackenzie from dance.  We took a stroll through the main room.  It was filled with so many beautiful creations.  There were ladies there that took old kimonos and created so many different things.  It was amazing to see the detail put into each piece.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Back to Ofuna, this time with Daddy!!!


I don't have a whole lot o' 'splainin' to do on this one.  We've been to Ofuna a few times, but never with Daddy.  I really wanted a shot of the four of us in front of the giant Kannon, so off we went!  It was a beautiful, sunny day trip...out of the house around 10 and we were home by 2.  A perfect Memorial Day outing!

On the way to the JR station, we walked through Verny Park because.... ROSES!!!





The park was absolutely full of roses!!  They were so beautiful!  Japan is amazing like that...cherry blossoms one month, moss phlox another month, wisteria, roses, irises, and soon...hydrangea!


When we arrived at the park, we made our way toward the stairs and were greeted by a gentleman giving away little helicopter twirly gigs.  So, the kids spent a while here spinning them up into the air (and into the bushes for Daddy to retrieve) before we made our way over to the steps.


The flame in the statue below was brought here from the flame at Hiroshima.


So so so many cranes


There we are!  And, there she is! 


We were lucky enough to have a perfectly clear blue sky!


Inside the Kannon statue.  As I took a few pictures of all the little statues, Mackenzie said, "Look at the little lady hiding in the back!"  She's right!  There was a tiny white lady hiding all the way at the back of the dozens of rows of statues.



Origami Kannon.  A future project for Maki-chan. :)

After a quick stop at Wendy's (our first time here since we've moved to Japan), we made our way home.  Wendy's was delicious!  Sadly, there are no Frosty's on the menu...but, there was beer and noodles.  Ha!  The kids and I had nuggets and Kris chose a burger.  I liked that there were so many different kinds of fries and dipping sauces to chose from here.  



Avocado mayo and garlic cheese sauce

 One more pass through Verny for the roses.