Trip Start Aug 05, 2007
9Trip End Aug 20, 2007
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The trip to Los Angeles was 5 hours, and no sooner had we landed, then we had to dash to our next plane to Narita at a different gate, which was already boarding. Yehuda flew first class and I sat in coach with Ayelet who slept most of the way. We arrived at Narita Airport after a very long trip-mostly because of the extra 3 hours we needed to be at the airport ahead of time for security reasons.
Our arrival was on August 6 at about 4:30 PM and we went through customs and Immigration-sort of a long line, but Ayelet, being a legal resident, got to go quickly through the Japanese immigration.
From the airport we took a train to Tokyo and switched there for the Shinkansen-The Bullet train
On the trains, the Japanese are very quiet and polite. They don't allow cell phones to ring on the train so they must be set to vibrate. When they talk to someone on the train, they actually cover their mouths with their hands. Most people seem to text message.Vendors with small carts similar to those on airplanes go up and down the aisles selling food, sweets, and drinks. On the back of each seat is a tray table
See http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2018.html more about Shinkansen.
Arriving in Sendai, we walked to our hotel, the Holiday Inn, which was about a 6 minute walk. It was slightly raining but very muggy and warm. We left all the suitcases in our room and walked with Ayelet to a bar of some sort for dinner. She did the ordering as we had no clue what things were. We kept to things that were familiar like chicken on a stick One thing she ordered was cartilage-chicken kabob on a skewer-I didn't like it as I couldn't chew it, but Ayelet said it was a Sendai specialty food.
We went to bed exhausted, but woke very early since Ayelet was going to take us touring to Matsushima and to Shizugawa, the first town she had worked and lived in
When we went to turn on our camera, we found that the lens had stuck and it was unusable. Ayelet's camera had been stolen in Chinatown the night before we left, so we bought a throw away camera to use for the day. Hopefully, the pictures will come out from the small camera. Yehuda and I enjoyed throwing the treats at the gulls, holding out our arms and having them eat from our hand. They were able to take the treats from our hands without nipping us.
Afterwords we went to the beach at Shizugawa where we met some of Ayelet's friends. Yehuda and Ayelet went swimming, while I walked over to a small island with Ayelet's friends, Zen (a Buddhist monk), and Frank and climbed up to a Shinto shrine. It was a long way up but it very beautiful. Later on we saw Zen's Buddhist temple and he explained to us the role of Buddhism in today's Japan- which is to take over when a person dies, to arrange for cremation and burial etc. to attend the graves and monuments
We had a huge breakfast in our hotel, then went with Ayelet to the camera and electronics store to buy 2 cameras. We got a Pentax waterproof-with a lens that doesn't come out. Unfortunately there was no English manual, but the store agreed to download for us 50 pages of the manual. I bought for Ayelet the same camera that was stolen from her days earlier. She went to work and we started strolling through Sendai. The city was having its Tanabata festival. There were lovely streamers with round balls at the top hanging everywhere-especially in the covered shopping streets (malls.) They were so long that they almost touched the ground. The whole shopping mall was very colorful, filled with masses of people. We wandered up and down the streets getting free samples of fish cakes and red bean sweets. There was a cacophonous, deafening sound of the many vendors shouting out to the public to taste their fish cakes, try their samples of various foods, or to enter their shopshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanabata
I took many photos which will be forthcoming. We kept seeing policemen shouting announcements in Japanese, and followed the crowds until we got to a main road where there was to be a parade around the main street. We were standing and sweating buckets, but it was worth watching the parade. It started out with young men only wearing some sort of wrap like sumo wrestlers-holding bamboo branches and marching with drums by kneeling, standing, kneeling, standing-It made my knees ache to watch them. Then there were little girls in yukatas doing dances with fans. There were older women parading with fans, and then came the firemen. They were dressed like samurai warriors-held long sticks that were hooked on the end, and carried a huge bamboo ladder. Most of the men hooked their long sticks around the lower rungs of the ladder-and the bottom rungs surrounding the ladder, and several others took turn climbing up the ladder and doing gymnastic tricks at the top of it-very impressive!
We had dinner with Ayelet and a friend, after coming to her work which is right above a McDonalds and meeting some little students of hers dressed in yukatas. Her work's name is Abroad Language Center! Our dinner consisted of various forms of grilled beef tongue and pickles which is a specialty of Sendai.