Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas In Japan

The picture above is how Hiroshima looked last December. Sadly, I don't think we'll be getting any snow for this Christmas. :(
The two pictures above were taken at Downtown Hiroshima on Peace Boulevard. Both sides of Peace Boulevard are illuminated with thousands of lights. At night, the place is packed with parents chasing their children from display to display.
At first glance you may think this photo was taken in America, but guess again. That's right, this over-the-top illuminated house is in Japan. I was totally surprised to see a house in Japan with sooo many decorations.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fall Foliage

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Miyajima Island, near Hiroshima, is famous for its Maple Leaf Nature Trail, among other things. Unfortunately for us we did not visit the island during the peak of the bright colors. But nevertheless, we were able to see a beautiful array of colors. The above collage includes the better of the pictures taken.

Sightseers beware!

Today I was showing a friend around Peace Park when we were bombarded with questions from 5th graders studying English. I'm not kidding when I say bombarded, every few steps we took we were asked by a new group if they could ask us questions. There were a few times while walking through the park when we could hear kids running behind us to catch us. Each group member asked a question and it was the same set of questions with all the groups. The first kid would start off saying "We're interviewing" and then each student would take a turn adding "May I ask you?" "Where is your country?" "We have a map." "Could you show us your country?" "Sign (your names) please." At the end they all said, "Thank You," "Have a nice day." I can definitely say that in the 15 months that Matt and I have lived here, this is the first time something like this has happened.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Totally crazy!

Alright, last weekend we were eating something called shabu-shabu with some friends, and the topic of birthdays came up. We realized that we'd known one of our close friends for a year and hadn't heard a word about his birthday. "When's your birthday, X?" Misty asked. A blank, semi-embarrassed stared was his response. That's right. Our friend didn't know when he was born. He knew the day on the lunar calender, which is alway different in relation to the real, er . . . I mean solar calender. But, as for a set, unchanging date by which his family, the government, etc. could measure his age, he was clueless. He called his mom on the spot, and SHE DIDN'T KNOW EITHER! This was totally unbelievable to us, but another friend from the same country vouched for him. In their China, they use two calenders, which adds to the confusion. Plus, people don't worry about their birthday's. "In China, if you are happy, everyday is your birthday!" X said. X is certainly a happy guy, so I guess that's a believable excuse. We looked up his birthday together later, and talked about it some more. He said many people in China are too poor to care about celebrating their birthdays. This didn't do much for my opinion of the Chinese government, but it reminded me a ton of how remarkable a guy X is. Well, there isn't much of a point to this story, but Misty and I were so blown away by the idea that a person could not know when they were born that we had to share it with you folks.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween party

Here in Japan, most people don't really know much about Halloween, so we had a Halloween party at an international gathering I regularly attend. Luckily, Misty and I had ordered a pumpkin (only $18.00 :/) ahead of time. Yeah that's a bit expensive, but it was a lot of fun sharing a bit of home with our Japanese friends. Most of them had never seen a western pumpkin, let alone a jack-o-lantern. In the picture to the right, one of our friends is trying his hand at removing the seeds. In the lower left picture, our "design the face" contest winner is sketching his winning design. And up top, we put my rasta wig on the finished product with the lights out. The picture has a trail from the jack-o-lantern's glow, which I think makes it extra spooky. Anyway, after that we sat in a circle with only the pumpkin for light and told ghost stories. It took a little while for everybody to catch on, but once we got them started they really got into it. Before the party started, Misty and I were a little worried that it wouldn't catch on, but in the end, it was all good fun.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pigging Out

On our recent vacation to Okinawa, we had the opportunity to observe some local cuisine, although we didn't quite have the guts to partake. Pork is the primary meat in this area of the world, and nothing, that's right nothing, goes to waste. In the markets, virtually every part was for sale, and at some shops and restaurants, pig faces were available. I have to tell you, I don't know how many times we've looked at this picture (right), and it never gets old. Another interesting thing that we saw was something called habushu. Habu is a type of snake found in that part of the world. Shu means liquor. As you can see from the picture below, habushu is the okinawan, much manlier version of tequila. This particular jug is unique because it has not one, but two habu inside it. It really was quite interesting to walk down the road and see countless snakes baring their fangs. If we had had the necessary hundred bucks or more, I might have tried to convince Misty to bring it home as a conversation piece. "Hey mom, did I show you what I picked up on vacation? Mom? . . . Mom?"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where in the world is...

For those of you who, like myself, are bad at geography, I've posted this Map of Japan so that you could see where Hiroshima is located.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hello Gulliver

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Just for fun, I thought I'd post some pictures showing how things here are built shorter for the Japanese. In case you can't tell from the pictures, in the top left we are on a bus that is about two inches shorter than Matt, so his neck is bent so that the back of his head is against the roof. The two trucks shown are used to deliver snacks and beverages to a nearby amusement park. The cab is so small that Matt could not drive it even if he wanted to (he does). The lower right picture shows how small the seats are on the older buses. Seats for taller people are available on the newer buses.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Bomb Memorial Ceremony

Sunday, August 6th, was the 61st Anniversary of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb. A ceremony was held that morning where a bell was rung at 8:15, the moment the bomb was dropped, and a moment of silence was observed for those who perished. After that, there we a few speeches given. I'd like to give a lot more detail, but our Japanese is nowhere near good enough to understand what was said. What we could catch was along these lines (I think): The mayor gave a speech involving the need to promote peace and calling attention to the inaction of nuclear powers regarding disarmament. Two children gave a speech about (again I'm not sure) the fact that freedom is not ours so that we may enjoy our lives and do as we please. That freedom requires that we strive for peace and the improvement of the world around us. After the children, Prime minister Koizumi gave a speech that was brief and largely unintelligible. That evening, lanterns bearing messages of peace were released into the river. (We have pictures of them glowing in the dark, but they didn't turn out well enough to post.) At that, I realize that this post really doesn't do justice to the ceremony, or the weight of the event it remembers. Visiting the Peace museum and seeing the images of what really happened are experiences which cannot really be explained, and I don't even believe that those images adequately communicate the horror. Not that we're all that important, but we recommend that all who are able to come and see what took place (we have a spare futon or two if you need a place to crash), and that those who can't come do what they can to read up on it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More on the Colonel

With the start of Hiroshima's hottest month, the Colonel doffed his sword and armor in favor of a light kimono and a festival banner. (He also did the buddy thing and slashed prices on his chicken for the week.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

We have no idea what to call this, but . . .

We had a group from our church in VA come over for a week, while they were here we all went to a traditional Japanese Garden. Like most Japanese gardens, this one's pond was stocked with koi, Japanese carp. This picture only partially shows how many of these little buggers where going crazy hoping to receive food. It was actually a hilarious/amazing sight to see, and quite noisy, too. A lot of times when we would throw the food to them the bigger fish would end up with a smaller fish in its mouth.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Maturity? . . . Bah!

Well, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out who posted this one. At first, I was unsure about whether or not to post this, as I don't want people to think that I'm making fun of them. However, as I pondered the many mistakes I've made in Japanese, such as "I'm a billboard," "I like to drink the newspaper while reading the morning coffee," and my personal favorite, "Give me a toilet, please," my crisis of conscience vanished. The emotional wounds inflicted upon me because of those and countless other mistakes demand that I tip the scales back in favor of the good guys. Some of you may notice a common theme in most of these pictures. These are actually some of the cleaner of the Engrish signs we've seen. 'Nuff said, Enjoy the Engrish.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

おたんじょうびおめでとう (Congratulations on your Birthday)

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A few people asked how Birthday's are celebrated in Japan. Well in my case, our friends threw me a surprise party! Knowing that Matt likes hamburgers we planned to eat at Kemby's, an American-owned pub, with our friends. We were joined by Chie, Emi, Kawahara, Jacob, Sherry, Nancy and Keiko. After we had finished eating, "Surprise!" The waitress brought out the delicious cake pictured above. Our friend Keiko had purchased the cake and made arragements with the waitress to bring it out with lit candles after dinner. Keiko was most excited about the edible name board. おたんじょうびおめでとう! ミスティ, which says, "Congratulations on your Birthday, Misty."

Sunday, May 07, 2006


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In Japan, the first week of May is called Golden Week because a number of holidays occur together. Theater owners called the week "Golden Week" because of the increased attendance. Now festivals are held throughout Japan during this week, and we went to Fukuoka, a nearby city, to help our coworkers do outreach at a large festival called Dontaku. About 2 million people attend yearly for the parades and various musical and dance performances held on outdoor stages throughout the city. In the upper and lower pictures above, you can see the crowd watching the parade and a girl marching in traditional Japanese dress (she is so adorable). On the right, some men are pounding mochi, which is a gooey Japanese rice cake. On the left, Matt and two friends, Nancy and Joan, are showing off their stylish Michael Jackson gloves. Actually, an organization came up with the great idea of bribing attendees with a free drink if they would pick up trash as they see it. Unlike America, where there's a trash can on every corner, public trash cans are basically located in public restrooms and beside vending machines. Therefore, a program like this is necessary. (Imagine 2 million people visiting your town for two days, eating meals from street vendors, and having no trashcans in which to deposit their trash). Well, that's enough trash talk. All in all, it was a pretty fun cultural experience.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Chicken Capital Japan

The Colonel goes native for Golden Week.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easter Dinner

Happy Easter everybody!! We were very blessed to have three friends over for dinner on Easter. We actually were able to have a relatively traditional Easter meal; ham, mashed potatoes and the like. Everybody had a great day of worship and the meal was a good conclusion for this wonderful holiday. From my right is Alex from Singapore, Jacob from China, Junko from Hiroshima and the pretty one on the right is Misty.

Want Not Waste Not

Yeah . . . So, do you remember that time in elementary school when you joked to a friend about how gross it would be to turn on the sink the same time someone flushed the toilet? So do the Japanese. This is something that our friends in the states found incredibly interesting, and now we're making good on a month's old promise to explain how it works. When you flush, the water to fill the reservoir first flows out of the faucet, allowing the user to wash his or her hands. That said, we really just wanted the excuse to post a funny picture on our blog. I'm sure it will be the butt of many jokes.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Snippets of Japanese Culture

Hey these are just random photos we thought you might like to see. From the top left: a traditional Japanese bride and groom, an old-style building at a garden, a kimono fashion show, shrines for the dead, a panhandling idol receives three yen (2.5 cents), a mound for the casualties of the atomic bomb, hina dolls, a household altar, and an offering tray.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006


In Japan, viewing cherry blossoms (ohanami) is a big deal, so we took a trip to a local garden with two friends, Keiko and Emi. Even though the blossoms hadn't fully bloomed, we were still able to enjoy some beautiful views of God's creation.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Our Bowling Outing

Every Saturday we have been meeting with our friend Jacob and 3 Japanese girl friends. Usually we meet at a coffee shop, but on this day we decided to go bowling. And if you know Misty, you know she loves bowling! Chie (top picture, far left) was our Champion. Below, Jacob shakes off yet another gutter ball.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hiroshima Castle

Here's a picture of Hiroshima Castle, although if I were building a castle, I'd add an elevator. It seemed like we spent our entire time in the castle climbing stairs. Seriously though, the original castle was destroyed by the bomb. This concrete version was built in 1958. It is now a museum, with a lot of interesting artifacts from the various periods of Hiroshima's history. You can even try on replica samurai armor. Like every respectable castle, this one has a nice moat (right). Dis-appointingly, instead of piranhas, this one has turtles and koi. If your knees can take the climb to the top, you will be rewarded with a nice view.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Piece of History

Hiroshima is most famous for being the city where the first Atomic Bomb was dropped. Located next to the Motoyasu river, the A-bomb Dome is the former Industrial Promotion Hall. It was almost directly below the bomb's hypocenter. It is believed that the dome absorbed most of the impact from the explosion, preventing the the Hall from being completely destroyed. It is now the only remaining building present during the explosion.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Welcome to Hiroshima!

Welcome to "A City." What a beautiful view the Lord has given us! Here's a shot from our apartment balcony. We thought we would begin with a few pictures from around our home. Enjoy!

A veiw of the neighborhood across from our apartment. More and more Japanese people are getting away from traditional Japanese style homes and are building Western style homes.