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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Staycation '10: Festival Edition

My mother-in-law Brenda came to visit us in Japan for two weeks and just left this past Saturday. Since she is a small-town Louisiana girl, we decided to keep her super busy and show her all we could while she was here!

First, I just HAD to share this! The hubs and I were cracking up for days anticipating her getting used to the whole driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road deal, and almost immediately after arriving in Japan, she sure delivered the comic relief!  She began to sit in the back of the van with the kids, but we egged her on to sit up front, so she obliged.  She settled in the "passenger" seat, then after her jet-lagged mind caught up to her surroundings, she nearly screamed as she realized she assigned herself driver duty!
The first place we took her was to the Tokato Cherry Blossom Festival in Nagano, Japan.  Had I realized that there would be the Nagano Snow Monkeys running amuck outside of our tour bus window, I would have had my camera ready.  I will remember for next time though!  Here are some pictures we took of sakura (cherry blossom trees).





Here is my husband Lance pointing out "fish sticks" to his mom and Alex, the vegetarian.  The look on her face was pretty close to priceless.

Here is a better view of the festival foods.  No cotton candy here! Just fish sticks and octo-stuff!
They did have sakura ice cream though!






The kiddies are overlooking a valley that is engulfed in sakura trees.

So much of Japan is very...busy and industrial/thrown-together looking, and its hard to get that "wow" factor sometimes staying in smaller towns.  However, keeping your eyes open, you can find beautiful scenery like this that screams "I'm in Japan!"  :)

We just got a new camera with our tax return, so we have tons of pictures that Lance and I took where we were playing with the macro settings (our favorite).  Here is a neat one that he took of a bud on a tree.
After the Cherry Blossom Festival, we stopped by a little town somewhere in Nagano and just explored for a few hours. 

There were several shrines to visit, and here is one where the kids were "donging" the bell, as they put it.



SAKE KEGS!

These awesome people made my mother-in-law's day!  They were peddling "sakura" ware...anywhere from cell phone charms (HUGE market for those here!), post cards, cookies, or sakura jello (which is what is making Alex look like a chipmunk).  They spoke limited Engrish, and were ecstatic to see Americans.  They asked each of us where we were from, and then asked how old I was.  When I told them I was 28, they cheered so loudly as if their underdog team won the World Series or something! I have no idea what that was all about, but it was neat nonetheless.

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