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  • sandy 6:50 pm on October 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Interesting Japan stuff 

    Some interesting stuff are, the toilets.  This is the controls for the bidet part of the toilet seat.  They are pretty easy to understand and they wash pretty well. I kinda liked them.  That fresh clean feeling.
    Sumiko-san bought me a bottle of Ramune.  It’s soda in a bottle, but the bottle is very different shaped and here is a marble that acts as a stopper that doesn’t come out.  At first I didn’t know what to make of it.  Didn’t know how to pop it open.  And when it was open, didn’t know how to keep the marble from stopping the soda flow.  Eventually I figured it out.  But it was fun and I thought there was so much thought put into the bottle.  So, I kept it.  Maybe I can make a bell out of it.
    And still another toilet find.  This toilet was in the men’s bathroom of the church in Hakodate.  Roger first went in and only saw a urinal.  He didn’t see any faucet to wash up or anything.  Then he opened the stall door and saw this, a toilet with a faucet attached on the top.  It runs after you flush.  The fill water goes through the faucet and into the tank.  Ingenious huh?  He let me peek into the men’s restroom. 
    Not sure how well you can see this photo.  It was taken outside of the railway/subway station.  These are homeless men, living in cardboard boxes under the cover of a stairway overhang.  As you can see it’s so neat and the men sleep inside of the cardboard box enclosrue with their slippers neatly put outside.
    Here’s something I thought was wonderful.  In the station, along with all the modern dress , there were a few women in traditional kimonos.   They look so beautiful, and so did the kimonos.
  • sandy 2:52 pm on October 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    We’re back again! From Japan! 

    This time we are back from Sapporo, Japan.  What a beautiful place and what beautiful people.  We visited Hakodate first, a fairly small town on the south east coast of Hokkaido.  It’s on a piece of land that borders the Sea of Japn and the Pacific Ocean.  I loved Hakodate!  The Hakodate Mihara Baptist Church has about 20 members.  They are so commited Christians!  I hope to have half as much commitment as them.  They treated us like royalty, feeding us the best raw fish, sushi, fresh fruits and the best curry-rice.  We instantly connected with them. 
    Monday, Oct 6
    The first night we were there, they went with us on the shuttle bus to show us the night view from Mt. Hakodate, which is famous for it’s night lights.  The ride up to the mountain was a bit hairy, the road is so narrow, and busses go up and down the road.  But, the view is wonderful!  A bit cold but just marvelous.
    Tuesday, Oct. 7
    We stayed at the Hakodate Loisir Hotel, which was right around the corner from the Hakodate Morning Market.  For breakfast we were on our own.  Some ate at the train station restaurants, some ate at the 7-11 or Sunkus.  And some ate at the morning market.

    Everything was so fresh.  We’d go there in the morning to look for breakfast before we left for the church.  Some things that were interesting was how much seafood there was and how varied they were.  Fresh, wriggling squid, all types of crabs restrained with rubber bands, japanese clams that they would put on the grill for you, and even fresh flowers. 
     And the most wonderful thing of all was the cantelope!  They were so beautiful but at 20 to 30 dollars a melon, we opted to buy a slice for breakfast.  They cut and even sliced it so you could eat it right there.  What a unique experience.  I could not believe the color, bright salmon, all the way from the tip to the rind.  You never get anything like that here.  And the meat was firm but not hard or squishy.  Mmmm wish I had one right now.   
    One of the dishes we did not try was a bowl of ramen with seafood and a live tako (octopus).  Seems they would cut off the top of the head and serve it with the ramen.  Since it is still technically alive but brain dead, the legs would still move.  You cut it up and eat it while it wriggles in your mouth.  Hmmmm.
    After breakfast we transported to the church by some of the members that took off from work since it was a workday, Tuesday.  The church is small but beautiful, an all purpose building complete with an upstairs apartment in which the pastor and his family lives. 
    We split up into groups for house meetings.  we sang some songs and I gave my testimony.  They were so warm and we instantly formed a bond.
    We returned to the church where they prepared a lunch with make your own sushi.  Different types of raw fish, rice, squares of nori, and a plate of condiments. 
    We met a woman that was a Seeker, not a member yet but coming to church.  She could not make the Hawaiian night but wanted to see us.  She came to the church at 2:30 pm.  She has a special needs child in a wheel chair who is about 4-5 y.o.  We learned later that she also has another special needs girl in jr. high also in a wheel chair.  Even with caring for 2 children, she found time to make a delicious pastry with fresh pumpkin filling.  
    Later, we went out with other members distributing fliers in the community.  These are utilty covers in the street that looked interesting.
    Then it was back to the church to eat again!   This time it was sandwiches and soup.  The soup was great and the sandwiches were simple but so delicious.
    Someone said that Japanese prefer the sandwiches without crust, so cut them off before making the sandwich and save the crust for bread pudding.  I think I’ll try that, but you have to have Japanese bread.  Potato salad sandwich is popular, we also had corned beef, egg salad and tuna.  Each one with a thin layer of filling.  They even had baby hoagies, with ham and tomato, and lettuce and shrimps.  How special does that look?
    Then rest and back to work, it was Hawaiian Evangelistic Night!  The first of many on our mission trip.  We sang songs, did hula, gave testimony, pastor did a sermon, sang more, did more hula, and did the Hukilau.  After the program we had refreshments and talked to the members and guests. 
    Wednesday, Oct 8
    The next day we went to a nursing home run by the Catholics, Asahigaoka No Ie.  It was a warm and caring place. The residents were so appreciative of the Hawaiian program.  At Hukilau time, everyone was doing the hula with their hands from their wheel chairs.  Hikari and I did Coming Home by Na Leo Pilimehana in sign language.  It was the first and last time we would perform this song.  It’s done in true sign language so we had to practice a lot!  You never know what God has in store or how he will use you.  After saying our goodbyes at the nursing home, a worker came up to us and signed to us.  Hikari explained that we didn’t know sign language well, we just practiced the song.  I guess the song touched her.
    We went back to the church where they prepared some "american style" hamburgers with all the toppings.  It was delicious, not like regular plain hamburger patties, but just so moist and good!  Even the bun was special.  And grilled on real charcoal.  It was a special treat!
    Then we were off sightseeing to Goryokaku Fort .  This photo is taken from a newly built observatory.  You can kinda see the star shaped fort.
    The last dinner at the church consisted of curry-rice and veggie platter.   What can I say?  I had 2 servings!
    That night’s Hawaiian Night was the last for Hakodate.  It was so sad but everyone was dancing the hula we taught them.  Even the kids got in on the dance.
    After we had a farewill party with refreshments and the giving of gifts that the members all made together.  We cried as we said our goodbyes.
    Even the church’s pastor was choked up as he said his appreciations and that we are now truly family.
    Thursday, Oct 9
    After being there for 2 days we were off  to Sapporo by train, which was a 3 hour ride.  The train station was just accross the street.
    Some of the members from the church went down to bid us goodbye.  It was so touching, we vowed to see them again. 

     It was a regular oldish train, complete with views of the coast, towns, and flower fields. 
    They even had a cart come around selling bentos and snacks.   They put ikura (salmon fish eggs) on everything!
    We arrived in Sapporo 3 hours later and was greeted by Sapporo Baptist Church members.  They have a beautiful, newly built church.  They even had a sign in front advertising our "Hawaiian Night"
    The first thing they greeted us with was a tea ceremony.  It was so special, most of us have never experienced it, especially our pastor and his wife.
    They taught us the proper way of accepting the cup, turning it, sipping it and slurping it.  Also bowing to recieve it and bowing to thank for it.
    Although it was supposed to be a serious ceremony, most of us couldn’t help but giggle at the ineptness of our kneeling for long periods of time.
    Then they fed us again.  So many simple but delicious dishes and even a dessert table.
    Friday, Oct 10 
    The next day was a work day, performing for the preschool kids.  I think the Hukilau was the favorite, with all of us dancing and teaching them. 
    You should see me dance the hukilau!  Oh well, I’m behind the camera, too bad.  The children left and we had a mini-concert for the mothers.
    In the afternoon 4 of us went to a house meeting.  We caught the street car, walked about 5 blocks passing Odori Park, which has the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.
    There were 4 ladies at the house meeting.  We talked story, had a Bible verse time and then ate! They prepared a raw fish with rice underneath dish.  And a yummy fruit dish with milk kanten cubes. 
    We came back to the church,rested, ate dinner, and then prepared for the Hawaiian Evangelist Night.
    The night was so special, we sang hymns, had a moving testimony from one of our members, and our Pastor preached, with our Japanese Sensei translating.  They all enjoyed the hula, some were even so enthralled they actually tried to make the motions like this elderly lady. 


    Saturday, Oct 11 
    The next day was free till lunch time.  We walked through the subway markets.  I’m not sure where else they have these but you could go shopping for what seems like miles.  You can even cross under the street to the other side.  The eating was soo oishi.  The shops were so varied, from Subways, to a manju makin shop.  I really wanted to go to Kinokuniya, a big bookstore, but we ran out of time. 
    We got to go to a department store, Daimaru, which had about 6 or 8 floors and has a basement floor which accesses from the subway shopping tunnels.
    The big department stores usually house their food stuff on the basement floor, bakery, grocery store, fish market, bento counters, fresh fruits, candies and cookies, and of course sushi.  The other floors housed coats, shoes, clothes and housewares.  We saw this man demonstrating making small, red clay, vases.
    Then we went to the church again, this time for a fellowship with the Hokkaido Hula Dance Society.  Dance studios would dance their hula, some were old fashioned hapa haole hula songs and some were more current.  The one that inspired me was the studio with the elderly dancers.  They are in the one color pink muumuus.  We ate dinner there again and practiced for the Hawaiian Evangelistic Night. 
    Sunday, Oct 12 
    Next day was Sunday where we participated in Sunday School class.  Our Pastors preached and we contributed in hula and song  in the service.  Later we enjoyed a Farewell Luncheon which was curry rice, one of their favorites, and enjoyed getting together with all of the members.  A grandfather even showed off his grandson, so cute ne?
    6 of us caught the limosine bus to Chitose Airport for 1000 yen each.  It was a bittersweet time, looking forward to going home, yet sad that we are leaving our new found family.
    We looked at the scenery, saw various sign, cute sign, and ginko trees lining the streets as we rode the bus.  We left Chitose Airport (Sapporo) for Kansai Airport (Osaka).  Kansai Airport is enormous.  4 floors and big open spaces.  And, more shops for leftover yen.  From Kansai airport we left for Hawaii.

     Sunday, again?
     We arrived Sunday morning at 10:30.  Feels kinda funny to have Sunday all over again.  We had a wonderful trip and although we didn’t do much sightseeing, we did meet and worked together with some amazing Christians.  Please keep them in your prayers, today only about 1% are Christians in Japan. 
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