After we got back from Kyoto we took Marc and Valeri to climb Mt Mitake and went to a Japanese baseball game. They had a really great time and we were able to sit near the outfield band. If you remember from previous blogs, the band plays a different song for each batter. It is really fun to be close to the outfield so that you can participate in the singing and dancing.
On the weekend we went to Nagano to stay in a town called Kamiyamada Onsen. It is a really fun place because we stay at this very traditional styled Ryokan. The owners are Japanese and American so it is really easy to communicate and learn about all the food and culture of the area. We had 12 people on this trip to Nagano because we scheduled a lunch with Geishas.
Here we are headed up to Nagano.
The owner of the Ryokan invited us to a very local festival where they air out the scrolls of their temple once per year. We felt like honored guests at this festival as there were only about 25 locals there and 12 of us foreigners. They really made an effort to include us and make sure we had front row seats. They even put the dragons to each of our heads once the dance was over.
After the festival we checked into our rooms and dressed in our Yukatas to attend our lunch where we were the honored guests being entertained by the Geisha. They provided dancing and music entertainment and fielded all of our questions with the help of our host and interpreter. Then they got us up to participate in dances with them and challenged us to drinking games. As predicted by our Ryokan "Concierge" Tyler we were not able to beat the Geisha. It was a really great time and a very rare experience for an American. If anyone reading this blog is living in Japan or planning a visit to Nagano, they should really make it up to this area to check out the Ryokan and stay there. It is called Kamesei Ryokan. It is a great place with great hosts who are always making improvements. We are planning another weekend there to take lessons from Ninjas and watch a drag Geisha show. Should be interesting!
Quinn ran the Nagano marathon but did not complete the race as he is just coming off of injury and was feeling like he was going to strain the injury if he kept going (editor's note: Though I have run 2 marathons in the past, I still did not have appropriate respect for the true effort it takes to run this event. I did not train appropriately and that was apparent when I was unable to finish). I think this event will help him get his training back in gear so he can be more competitive in the next marathon. Not sure where or when that will be yet. He is still working that out. Here is Marc holding Ethan during the race. Ethan is the most spoiled dog in the world!
A pic of Quinn running.
The night before the marathon we went out to a huge feast. There were about 10 courses to this dinner and one even included a giant stuffed red snapper. Thanks again Tyler for setting this up for us.
The cherry blossoms were all still in bloom up here because it is colder than in Tokyo. Here we are in in our Yukatas wandering around the town and posing for pictures. We spent most of the two days living in our Yukatas.
This should have gone in the last post. I forgot to tell you all about how the deer in Nara bow when you bow in order to get a treat. I was very amused by this. They are truly Japanese deer.
As for all of you wondering about where we will be next year, I wish I knew the answer myself. As of right now, we will be staying here but we are hoping that Quinn can get a transfer and become the sponsor. Everything is up in the air for now. I will keep you updated.