Monday, June 22, 2009

Erin in Japan Pt. 2

After three days in Tokyo, Erin and I escaped to the inaka of Tahara. By the time we arrived it was pouring buckets of rain and it wouldn't really let up until it was almost time for her to go home. But we didn't let that ruin our fun. Armed with umbrellas and smiles we headed to Irago where we caught a ferry over to Ise in Mie prefecture in order to see the most beautiful shrine in Japan according to my Lonely Planet guide.




We visited the Inner Shrine which is supposed to be prettier than the Outer Shrine. The rain added a mysterious aura to the place. I think I preferred it that way actually. It was very mystical. Of course, we couldn't see most of the shrine as it is off limits and surrounded by a huge wall. Apparently only the Japanese emperor and his contingent ever get the honor.

After the shrine we walked through the touristy area nearby and had lunch. I saw a man handing out free samples of dried squid, or squid jerky as I like to call it, and made Erin try some. She had liked the sashimi we had eaten for lunch so I wasn't 100% sure she would hate the squid. But still I was probably 99% sure she wouldn't like it, and really she should know better than to eat something just because I tell her. It's not like that's worked out for her in the past. (I am not the nicest big sister.) It did, however, make for an awesome photo op.

She didn't like it.

The Japanese people around her insisted that squid was delicious. "Oishii-yo!" one lady told her. She threw the rest in the gutter and we continued on our way, eventually finding something she did really like - taiko drummers.

These guys were amazing!

On our way back to the ferry station we noticed the Mikimoto Pearl Island. My mom has been joking with me about buying her pearls since she visited Tokyo and saw the Mikimoto Pearl store in Ginza. So we had to go. Although the whole time I felt really bad about not taking my mom there when she was in Tahara. I bought her some pearls to make it up to her, (the really small inexpensive seed pearls not the gorgeous and thus incredibly expensive pearls she was lusting after last year when she was here.) We learned about how pearls are cultivated (technique invented by Mikimoto) and harvested and then we tried on a very large and even more expensive pearl and diamond crown. Afterward, we headed outside to see the pearl diver demonstration from the luxury of the Foreign Visitor's Lounge.

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Erin and I learn about harvesting pearls.

I'm trying not to move in case I break it. It's worth about $10,000!

Every hour they had a pearl diver exhibition.

The next day the rain increased from occasional shower to a never ending downpour. Erin came to school with me and listened to some pretty embarrassingly bad show and tell speeches from my eighth graders. After the speeches they interrogated her with questions like "how much money do you make?" and "who is cuter, Mr. Nathan or your husband?" (Answers: none of your business and her husband.) Then we attempted to see some sights in town, but because of the rain we didn't make it very far before we were soaked and we retreated back to the apartment.

"I'm singing in the rain!"

Erin vents about the weather on my fridge.

Despite the typhoon sitting off the coast and trying to ruin our fun, we braved the rain and headed over to local karaoke place with Nathan. I learned a lot about my sister on this trip. For one thing, she eats slower than a sloth. And second, she has a crazy love for 80's music that I never knew about. She learned a few things about me too. I'm pretty sure she had no idea that I could rap, something that amused her to no end.

Still in my school clothes and rappin it out.

The weather finally broke on Friday and we were able to rent some bikes and head down to Long Beach and then because we'd already biked 16km and what was a few more, we headed over to Takigashira Park too. Then it was back to the apartment for a nap before a party held in Erin's honor.

Biking along the beach.

Erin, Me, Clinton, Bob, Sue, and Miwa

I put her on the train back to Narita Airport the next day. I was really worried she would get lost, something she excels at, but a few hours later she called to let me know she had made it all right. We had a great week together. If you want to read her account of the same trip you can find it here

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