12/15/07: Going Home!!! (1/27/08) - December 15th arrived marking the last page in our wonderful book of living in Japan.  Although bitter sweet, Ashley and I both felt it was time to go home and be close to our family and friends since we are expecting Caleb Jeffrey somewhere around April 3rd!

12/04/07: Shipo Art with Noriko & Daiichiro (2/1/08) - One of the last activities Ashley did with Noriko and Daiichiro before we left Japan.  Shipo art combines metal, ceramics, and paint.

12/01/07: Temporary Living in Toyota City (1/27/08) - We had to stay in temporary housing during our last 2 weeks because I was officially on a TMMK business trip and therefore we couldn't stay in the house we stayed in during my assignment.  Although smaller than what we were used to it was another unique memory in Japan.

11/27/07: Packing our House (1/27/08) - With 2.5 weeks left to stay in Japan we were packing our house and having the movers box everything up.  It was easier this time because we didn't have to say what went and what stayed, but just that everything went!

11/24/07: Shirotori Garden (11/27/07) - Shirotori Garden is a beautiful Japanese Garden in Nagoya.  It was so peaceful and relaxing that we went twice this past weekend, it was wonderful in the midst of all of our hecticness as we prepare to move and return to the U.S.

11/17/07: Matsumoto Castle (11/18/07) - Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan's historic castles.  It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture.  This castle is also called Crow Castle because of its black walls and spreading wings.  It is an example of a flatland castle, not being built on a hilltop or amid rivers.

11/16/07: Toyota Sky Promenade (2/1/08) - One Friday evening out with Takano and his wife Aya.  Some pictures of Nagoya at night as well as Nagoya Station with Christmas decorations.

11/14/07: Stone Lantern Shopping in Okazaki (2/1/08) - We went with Noriko and Daiichiro to Okazaki to pick out a stone lantern that we would bring home for the Japanese garden we want to create in our back yard.

11/9/07: Weekend in Nikko (11/18/07) - Nikko is a city located in the mountains of the Tochigi Prefecture, Japan.  It is located 140 km to the north of Tokyo.  One of the most popular places for Japanese and international tourists.  It also is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

10/31/07: Making Ojizo-san in Tokoname (11/15/07) - On Halloween, Noriko took Ashley and a group of friends to make pottery Ojizo-sans.

11/2/07: Weekend in Fukuoka (11/7/07) - We finally made it to the the South Island of Japan, Kyushu.  Although we did not travel around it a lot as recommended we did spend the weekend in Fukuoka, the 4th or 5th largest city in Japan (depends on the source).  We had a great time, oh, and we finally made it to the 8th and final Hard Rock Cafe in Japan!  We visited all 8!

10/28/07: Weekend in Ise, Toba, Atsumi Peninsula with Noriko & Daiichiro (11/4/07) - Pictures from our weekend with Noriko and Daiichiro in Ise, Toba, and the Atsumi Peninsula.

10/28/07: Ashley in 12-layer Kimono (11/4/07) - Ashley trying on a 12-layer kimono in Ise.

10/20/07: Kanazawa Castle (10/21/07) - A well-restored castle in Kanazawa, it is located adjacent to Kenroku-en Garden.

10/20/07: Kenroku-en Garden (10/21/07) - Located in Kanazawa, is an old private garden developed from the 1620s to 1840s by the Maeda clan.  It is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.

10/14/07: Cormorant Fishing & Gifu Castle (10/16/07) - Gifu Castle is located on Mount Kinka along the Nagara River in Gifu.  After touring the castle, we enjoyed cormorant fishing with several friends from work.

9/16/07: Wakayama Pref. Nature (9/23/07) - Wakayama Prefecture is full of beautiful nature and a lot of it is on the coast.  During our traveling this weekend we got to see a few of these spots and they were very unique and beautiful in their own right.

9/16/07: Adventure World Shirahama (9/23/07) - Adventure World is a theme amusement park.  Basically, it is a small amusement park with animals.  There are safari tours similar to Fuji Safari Park, giant pandas, Dolphin shows and other marine mammals.

9/15/07: Osaka Castle (9/23/07) - One of the more famous rebuilt castles in Japan.  It is a very beautiful castle in the middle of Osaka, a very stark contrast to the past and the present of Japan.

9/9/07: Enoshima Aquarium (9/14/07) - And another of Japan's aquariums.

9/9/07: Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (9/14/07) - Another one of Japan's aquariums.

9/8/07: Seto Mono Pottery Festival (9/14/07) - This is the same festival we went to last year.  We made pottery again this year and Ashley got to use a pottery wheel this time, she really enjoyed it.

9/1/07: Inuyama Castle (9/2/07) - A visit to the oldest original castle tower in Japan, built in 1537.

8/25/07: Toyokawa Tezutsu Matsuri (8/26/07) - Ashley and I went to Tokoyama to see their famous Tezutsu Matsuri (festival).  The highlight of this matsuri was Tezutsu fireworks.  You have to see the pictures to believe it!

7/21/07: 1-day Tokyo Hard Rock Cafe trip (8/26/07) - One goal Ashley and I have is to visit all 8 Hard Rock Cafe's in Japan.  Last year a new one opened in Narita (a town on the north side of Tokyo).  We had never been yet, so we decided to drive there and then revisit Tokyo Ueno-Eki, Tokyo, and Yokohama Cafe's as well.   We also stopped to see a really nice Japanese garden in Narita.

8/14/07 - 8/18/07: Hokkaido Vacation (8/23/07) - Ashley and I went on vacation with our friends Mike, Sasaki-san and his wife, Akemi, and her brother Koichi to Hokkaido.  We had a great time, got to see lots of stuff that reminded us of the farmlands and rolling hills of Kentucky.  Here is some more information about Hokkaido complements of Japan National Tourist Organization.

8/11/07: Fuji Safari Park (8/12/07) - Ashley and I wanted to go to one of the night safaris at Fuji Safari Park so we decided to spend the whole day.  This was our 4th trip, the weather was nice, we had a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji nearly all day, got to hold lion cubs so overall we had a nice day!

8/4/07: Okazaki Hanabi Festival (8/5/07) - Ashley and I went to another large fireworks show and festival in Okazki city with Mike and Bryan.  We met up with Sasaki-san (ex-TMMK coordinator) and his wife and her family for some food before the festival and then we walked to the festival.  It was much more crowded than Gifu and it ended up storming while we were right smack in the middle of it all!

7/28/07: Gifu Hanabi Festival (7/31/07) - Ashley and I went to the large fireworks show and festival in Gifu with some co-workers from TMMK during their latest business trip.

7/22/07: Nagoya Sumo Grand Tournament (7/29/07) - Mike, Ashley and I went to the Nagoya Sumo Grand Tournament on July 22nd.  I have added lots of information on the picture page so anyone can read up on sumo wrestling.

7/11/07: Arimatsu Tie Dying (7/14/07) - Ashley went with some friends to Arimatsu (a small town known for tie-dying) and did some authentic tie-dying at a local shop.  See what they did!

7/7/07: Tanabata Party (7/14/07) - Pictures from the Tanabata party that we went to the next day after our return from the States.  Ashley finished Jonathan's yukata and we both wore them for the party!

5/27/07: Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (6/2/07) - Kaiyukan Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world.  It is home to an aquarium holding 5,400 tons of water which houses a manta ray as well as the largest fish in the world, the whale shark.

5/27/07: Osaka Giant Ferris Wheel (6/2/07) - This Ferris Wheel began its operation on July 12, 1997.  It is one of the largest ferris wheels in the world with a diameter of 100 meters and total overall height of 112.5 meters.

4/30/07 - 5/4/07: Beijing, China Vacation (5/6/07)

4/18/07: Miyako Odori (4/22/07) - The 135th performance of the Miyako Odori (The Cherry-Blossom Dance) performed by Geiko and Maiko in Kyoto.

4/19/07: Chunichi Dragons Baseball game (4/21/07) - We went to our first Japanese baseball game with Aki and Kazu.  Here are some pictures and you can read more about it on our blog.

4/8/07: Okazaki City hanami (4/09/07) - We went to Okazaki City where we heard the cherry blossom viewing was very nice along the river that runs through the city.  Well, we didn't know there were all kinds of festivities as well, very much like a big party.

4/7/07: Toyota City park hanami (4/09/07) - We went to a park in Toyota City with one of our friends, Mayumi.  Later we went to dinner and a movie.

4/5/07: Sakura at Kamigo (4/09/07) - These are some pictures I took one morning with a beautiful blue sky as the background!  Cherry blossom season is an important time of year in Japan representing the beginning of Spring.

4/6/07: Yukata Classes & Tea Ceremonies (4/08/07) - Some pictures from a farewell party for a lady in the yukata class, Noriko working on Jonathan's yukata, and Ashley's completed yukata preparing for tea ceremony.

3/29/07: Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (4/08/07) - Ashley, Mom, and Dad went to The Toyota Commemorative Museum during their visit.  Established jointly by thirteen companies in the Toyota Group, this museum occupies the factory site that was their birthplace: an old building at the Toyoda Spinning & Weaving Col. Ltd.  A variety of machinery, used in everything from textile manufacture to automobile production, is on show.

3/22/07: Nagoya Orchid Garden (4/08/07) - Ashley, Mom, and Dad went to the Nagoya Orchid Garden during their visit.

3/21/07: Noritake Garden (4/08/07) - Ashley, Mom, and Dad went to the Noritake Garden during their visit.  This expansive property features a variety of exhibits and tours related to the Noritake Company and its ceramic products, including its world famous china tableware.  The museum focuses on the history of Noritake and has demonstrations on how unglazed pottery is shaped and how china is painted.

4/1/07: Nara (4/06/07) - Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784.  Seven temples, shrines and ruins in Nara, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji and Heijō Palace Remains, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3/31/07: Kobe's Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (4/06/07) - The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (明石海峡大橋, Akashi Kaikyō Ō-hashi) is the longest suspension bridge in the world to date, as measured by the length of its center span 1,991 meters (6,532 ft) and has a total length of 3,911 meters (12,831 ft).

3/31/07: Himeji Castle (4/06/07) - Himeji Castle (姫路城) is a Japanese castle located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture. It is one of the oldest surviving structures from medieval Japan, and was registered as the first Japanese National Cultural Treasure by UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Japanese National Cultural Treasure in December, 1993.

3/25/07: Miyajima (4/04/07) - Itsukushima (厳島) is an island in the Inland Sea of Japan.  It is popularly known as Miyajima (宮島), the Shrine Island.  Itsukushima is famous for the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

3/24/07: Hiroshima (4/04/07) -  Much is known about Hiroshima, but having been there gives me a different perspective that I will carry with me the rest of my life.  Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3/18/07: Fuji Safari Park (3/30/07) - Well, this is trip number 3 for Ashley and I and needless to say, we have seen something new and exciting every time!  We couldn't see Mt. Fuji this time.

3/17/07: Toba Aquarium (3/30/07) - One of the 3 most famous Aquariums in Japan.

3/17/07: Mikimoto Pearl Island (3/30/07) - Mikimoto Pearl Island is the home of the Mikimoto pearl.  Pearls were cultured successfully for the first time in history in 1893 using a method developed by Kokichi Mikimoto.

3/8/07: Asuke Hina Matsuri (3/10/07) -  Noriko took a group of us to Asuke to see the Hina dolls displayed in the local shops and museums for the Hina Matsuri.  The Japanese Doll Festival (雛祭り, Hina-matsuri), or Girls' Day, is held March 3, the third day of the third month. Platforms with a red cloth (緋毛氈, hi-mōsen) are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形, hina-ningyō) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.

3/6/07: Atsuta Jingu (3/10/07) - Noriko invited some of us to take a tour of the shrine near her house.  The tour was given by people from NHK (Japan's national broadcasting network).  Atsuta shrine has about 9 million visitors annually for the conventional New Years visit.  Atsuta was originally founded about 1900 years ago.  The shrine is specially revered by the people, ranking only second to the Grand Shrines of Ise.  Most of the buildings were destroyed by fire during WWII.  The main buildings were completed in 1955.

2/28/07: Kimekomi crafts (3/10/07) - My Kimekomi class had a guest sensei to help us make Hina dolls for the upcoming Hina Doll festival.

2/13/07: Gifu Sweet Shop (3/10/07) - The CCEA took a trip to a Wagashi sweet shop in Gifu.  Wagashi is a sweet normally eaten before drinking matcha at tea ceremony.

2/8/07: Tea Ceremony at Noriko's (3/10/07) - One of the typical tea ceremony's that I have attended at Noriko's house.

1/16/07: Pictures from David, Amy, and Mary Nell's Visit (3/10/07) - Pictures from us eating yakiniku; David, Amy and Mary Nell participating in a tea ceremony at Noriko's and pictures from the VERY packed bB on the way to the airport!

3/3/07: Strawberry Eating (3/4/07) - We went with Ahki and Kazu to a strawberry greenhouse in Gifu and ate lots of strawberries.  There is more information on our blog, but here are all of the pictures.

2/10/07: Shirakawa-go Village (2/11/07) - This village is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.  Shirakawa, located in the mountains of Gifu prefecture, is an active village of gassho-zukuri house's built of wooden beams combined to form a steep thatched roof that resembles two hands together.

1/21/07: Fuji Safari Park (1/28/07) - If you like animals (and David, Amy, and Mary Nell do) we had to take them to Fuji Safari Park for the chance of a lifetime to feed the animals on the Safari Tour.

1/20/07: Kyoto Visit 2 (1/27/07) - We went to Kyoto with David, Amy, and Mary Nell this time, the weather was nicer than the first time we went with Kendall.  We visited Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺, Ginkaku-ji 銀閣寺, Fushimi-Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社, Kiyomizu-dera 清水寺.

1/12/07: Tokyo Disney, Tokyo Sea, and Tokyo (1/24/07) - Pictures with David, Amy, and Mary Nell in Tokyo during their first weekend in Japan. 

12/30/06 - 1/11/07: Australia Vacation (1/22/07)

12/24/06: Northern Japan Alps (12/24/06) - These are pictures of our Shinhotaka Ropeway ride up into the Northern Japan Alps on Christmas Eve.  We got up early at Syohoen because breakfast was at 8:00, so when we were done we went here which was approximately 20 minutes away.  The day was beautiful with near clear blue skies.  We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!  The snow really got me into the Winter Season. 

12/23/06: Syohoen Ryokan (12/24/06) - We stayed here for our Christmas present to each other this year.  A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese Inn.  It was very nice, something that we knew we needed to experience while in Japan.  A Ryokan usually has an onsen or public bath at the facility, Syohoen had the normal public male and female bath houses, but also had 2 private outdoor onsens.

12/10/06: Lagunasia Illumination (12/11/06) - This is the fireworks, laser, and water show at Laguna Gamagori during Christmas.  This was my first attempt at taking pictures of fireworks.  I need to get some practice before New Year's in Sydney.

12/02/06: NETS English Christmas Camp (12/07/06) - Pictures from the kids English camp we helped out with.  It was a Saturday and Sunday with kids 6-12 years old.  We had a great time!  The point was to use English to tell the kids about Christmas and teach them some basic words through repetition, but really it was just for them to have fun!  It reminded both of us of VBS, Mission Trips, and Crosspoint!

11/29/06: Kendall's Random Pictures (11/29/06) - Just some random pictures that Kendall took while he was visiting.  Actually they are some very good pictures showing some everyday life stuff in Japan that Ashley and I just take for granted or we just haven't photographed because we see it everyday.

11/23/06: Nagoya Port Aquarium (11/29/06) - Ashley and Kendall went to the Nagoya Port Aquarium.  Enjoy the dolphin and orca show pictures!

11/26/06: Laguna Gamagori (11/27/06) - Ashley, Kendall, and I went to Laguna Gamagori.  It is a marina, shopping area, water park in the summer, a little bit of something for everyone!  In the winter the sail boats in the marina are lit up with Christmas lights.  It was really beautiful.

11/22/06: Arimatsu Tie Dyeing Museum (11/27/06) - Ashley and Kendall went to Arimatsu (where we saw our first Japanese Festival) to visit the Tie Dyeing Museum.

11/20/06: Pottery Expo at Nagoya Dome (11/27/06) - Ashley and Kendall went to a Pottery Expo at the Nagoya Dome.  They went with Noriko and Lucy.

11/19/06: Kyoto Visit 1 (11/22/06) - We went to Kyoto with Kendall the day after he arrived during his "Fall" vacation to visit us.  Although it was overcast, rainy, and cold we had a wonderful time seeing 3 major sites during our first trip to Kyoto.  We visited Fushimi-Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社, Kinkaku-ji 金閣寺, Ginkaku-ji 銀閣寺

11/12/06: Ise Shima and Meotoiwa Visit (11/17/06) - We took a day trip with 8 Japanese friends to Ise Shima and Meotoiwa.  Ise Shrine in Ise Shima is the most famous Shinto shrine in Japan, the emperor visits this shrine every year.  We also visited the Wedded Rocks in Meotoiwa. 

11/11/06: Sake Factory and Miso Factory Tours (11/14/06) - The Toyota International Association is a group in Toyota City that works with the international community in Toyota City.  One sub-group of TIA is a sub-group called EIFF, an English speaking group that supports different activities.  They prepared a Sake Factory and Miso Factory tour in Toyota City.

11/09/06: Yukata Class (11/14/06) - These are some pictures of the yukata class that Ashley is taking.  A yukata is a summer kimono, she is making it all by hand, that's right all of the sewing will be hand done!

10/28/06: Fuji Safari Park (10/29/06) - Fuji Safari Park is similar to Disney Worlds Animal Kingdom only better!  The key attraction is the ability to drive your car or take a jungle bus on a 50 minute ride through the safari zone where lions and tigers and bears (oh my) can walk up to your car!  You just have to see the pictures (it was indescribable).

10/26/06: Tokoname Pottery Walk (10/29/06) - Tokoname is about 45 minutes outside of Nagoya by train and is known for it's pottery.  There is a 'pottery path' that is marked and that you can walk.  There was a group of 6 of us from the CCEA that went.  It is a very beautiful, very old place with pottery all along the path as well as artist studios and shops.

10/22/06: Okonomiyaki & Takoyaki Party (10/29/06) - We had 6 friends (Masumi, Yuki, James, Lindsay, and Lynn) over to our house to have an okonomiyaki and takoyaki cooking party.  If you don't know what that is then take a look at the pictures!  We had a great time while preparing and eating traditional Japanese food.

10/15/06: Kamikoshi Keikoku (Trout Fishing and BBQ) (10/29/06) - Ashley, Lynn, and I went to Kamikoshi Keikoku to go trout fishing with our friend Masumi and some of her co-workers.  After fishing we had a BBQ where we had some of the fish we ate, regular meats, and even purple potato!

10/15/06: Nagoya Daimyo Matsuri (10/15/06) - The Nagoya matsuri is the biggest festival held in Nagoya during autumn and its main attraction is a parade in which the three proud heroes of Nagoya, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu march at the head of 700 retainers.

10/14/06: Koromo Matsuri (10/15/06) - Koromo matsuri (Festival) is a traditional festival which began in the Edo Era.  The purpose of this festival is to pray for a rich harvest for the year.  'Koromo' is the previous name of Toyota city.

10/8/06: Arimatsu Festival (Float Parade) (10/8/06) - Arimatsu is a small town in the outskirts of Nagoya.  Arimatsu is known for its traditional Japanese tie-dying.  The festival we attended is a float parade.  This parade has been held for over 300 years.  There are 3 floats in the parade representing the West, Central, and East areas of Arimatsu.

10/7/06: Cormorant Fishing on the Nagara River (10/7/06) - This 1,300 year old tradition takes place on the Nagara River in Gifu City in the Gifu Prefecture.  Ukai is the fishing method to which a fisherman catches fish using a cormorant.  There is more information on this web page.  Although it was very difficult to get good pictures we did get some beautiful pictures of the river and a double rainbow!

10/1/06: Chuo Alps (10/1/06) - We went to the Chuo Alps with some Toyota friends and some new friends of friends.  We started hiking at 2,612 meters and made it to the Kisokoma-ga-dake, the 17th highest peak in Japan at 2,956.  It was the hardest thing that Ashley and I have physically done to date.  There are 150 pictures and it may take a minute to load all of the pictures!

9/29/06: Nagoya Orchid Garden (9/23/06) - The city of Nagoya, where we live, is located in the Aichi Prefecture.  The Aichi Prefecture is well known for its orchids and supply the rest of Japan with the majority of the Japanese orchids.

9/29/06: Higashiyama Zoo (9/23/06) - Its a zoo, it has koala bears, and the animals were very very active.  The Asian tiger was moving all through his cage and even played with a log that was dangling from a chain.  If you have patience or high speed internet you can download a 318MB video that Ashley took with her camera of the tiger.

9/17/06: Ueno Zoo (9/17/06) - Ueno Zoo is the oldest zoo in Japan, founded in 1882.  It is home of Ling Ling, a giant panda.

9/17/06: Aquario 2006 (9/16/06) - This was a bust, sorta.  This is why we went to Tokyo because the advertisements and tanks from years past made this look awesome ... well, I can say I got my tank fix, but that is about it.  There were some nice tanks, but nothing new and exciting.

9/17/06: Tokyo City Views (9/16/06)

9/9/06: Making Pottery in Seto (9/9/06)

9/9/06: Seto mono Pottery Festival (9/9/06) - Every year the Seto Pottery Festival is held in remembrance of some guy that brought Pottery making to Seto.  Now Seto is well known throughout Japan as a leader in pottery making.

9/9/06: Japanese BBQ Picnic (9/2/06)

8/27/06: Moving to Japan (8/15/06)

8/27/06: Our House Finding Trip (with pictures of Nagoya Castle) (7/8/06)

6/17/06: Packing and Moving Pictures

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