Monday, March 31, 2014

Our last day of sighteseeing

Today we saw sakura (cherry blossoms). Everyone in Japan loves cherry blossom season, and we agree - they are such beautiful flowers.They only bloom for a very short time. We were worried that they would not be open before we had to leave. We were so lucky that they bloomed just in time for us to see them!  
In Japan, the school year begins in April, so often the first day of school takes place under the blooming cherry blossoms. Imagine walking to school under these wonderful flowers!   
 We went to the park to enjoy hanami, or flower viewing. It is a custom to have a party under the beautiful cherry blossoms. People have been enjoying hanami parties for more than a thousand years.   
 It is very lovely to see the cherry blossoms next to a river. This park only has a few trees, but some big parks have hundreds of cherry trees. However, we think that even one tree by itself is beautiful.   
 Also in the park are these cute statues – they are tanuki. Tanuki are forest animals. It is very rare to see one in the wild because they are so shy. But these guys were really friendly and let us play with them.   After we watched the flowers for awhile, we went shopping. It is traditional in Japan to buy O-miyage for your friends and family when you go on a trip. O-miyage is Japanese for souvenir.   
What shall we bring back for Johannes? I wish we could bring him some Japanese sake. These bottles are much bigger than us, though. They would be too heavy to carry.   
 We could bring him an Awa Dancer… Tokushima has a big festival every summer. It is very famous in Japan. Here is a picture of one of the dancers. It looks very complicated!   
These two lovely ladies made out of bamboo taught us the Awa dance. What do you think? Are we ready to perform this August?   
We met two backpackers wandering Tokushima like we are! But, they are only backpacking on the island of Shikoku. There is a Buddhist pilgrimage route on the island, and it starts in Tokushima. People can hike to 88 temples, following in the footsteps of a monk named Kobo Daishi. It is very common to see backpackers here! If we stay here another two months, we could hike the route, too! But, it is time for us to leave Tokuhsima. Tomorrow we pack up our backpacks and head back to Germany.  
Looking at cherry blossoms was a great way to spend our last day in Tokushima!  

See you soon! 
Hans and Paul

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We take a Walk through Tokushima

We are having a good time in Japan. Tokshushima is a nice place to take a walk.
The other day, we walked around and found these wonderful old buildings – a castle and a pagoda.
They look like they were built just for us! I wonder if we could live here? 
 We saw a small shrine on our walk. The white paper and rope at the top means it is a Shinto shrine. The paper and rope are used to show people that it is a holy place. Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan. There are many small shrines like this one along the roads or in the mountains. People often stop to pray for protection from harm or to give thanks. We stopped here because we are thankful for our visit to Japan.
Then we walked along the river. The boats move pretty fast. It is a big river and very pretty. The trees are not blooming yet, but the weather forecaster said the cherry blossoms should bloom next week.
 Who's climbing up that building? Is it King Kong? I thought he was in New York! What is he doing in Tokushima? Let's go before he gets angry!
We were pretty tired after our walk, so we came home to help Heather write some postcards. Which ones should we choose? Japan? Anime? Television Shows?
We want to write a letter using the paper we made last weekend.
We are glad she didn't have too many postcards to write ... it was a busy day, so we should go to bed soon. Good night, everyone. Or, in Japanese, "O-yasuminasai!"
Hans and Paul

Friday, March 21, 2014

We go out for sushi

After we finished, we were very hungry, so our hosts took us to a sushi restaurant. It is so fun to watch all the sushi glide past. There are many kinds of sushi – salmon, tuna, octopus, prawns, eel, fish eggs ... we tried them all! 
 With Octopus
With Prawns
It is taller than us!
What is it? Oh, it's fish eggs!
They also sell other foods too, including clam miso soup - it was delicious!
Do we want tuna or salmon?
And if you don't see something on the conveyor belt that you want, you can order fresh sushi and it is sent to your table.
They even sell sushi made of smoked ham and apple. It reminds us of Germany.
We are very full now. Maybe we should go home and get some sleep.
Good night for now. We will write more later
Paul and Hans

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We help our host to make handmade paper

Monday was Heather's day off, so she had an interesting project for us.
When we woke up, we saw all this on the table, and we wondered what it was for. Then Heather told us we could help her make handmade paper!
First, we take some of the paper scraps and blend them into a slurry.
Be careful, Paul! Don't fall in!
After Heather put the slurry into a deckle, or frame, then we helped sponge it dry. 
 Ta-da! Here is our paper. You can see that it is still wet, but after it dries it will be our paper! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We climb a mountain

It was a beautiful day, so our hosts decided to climb Bizan. It means “Eyebrow Mountain” in Japanese, and from far away, it really does look like an eyebrow. But we only saw it close up.
Along the path are old graves, from the lords and samurai who used to rule here about two hundred years ago.
This is such a steep path! 
Look at this interesting Japanese. Paul decided he wanted a closer view, so he is sitting inside the Japanese number two. It is a very big and old rock. We were curious about it, but our hosts don't know why this big rock is in the middle of the mountain!
Are we there yet?
We made it! Can you see where we are staying? I can almost touch our hosts' apartment building – it is the long brown one here. It is really hazy today – that's too bad. Heather says that on a clear day she can see the mountains on the islands next to us.
On our way back down now, we are tired and having fun. Let's climb this little mountain and see where the path goes?
On our way down we stopped under the ropeway. We wanted to ride it down, but it is closed for maintenance. We're only halfway down!
Look at the steep path we just came down! It was quite slippery. There are many different paths down the mountain, and we don't want to say anything bad about our hosts, but it is possible they chose the wrong path down :) Next time, we will take a different path down!
What a lovely day! It was really nice to be out in the fresh air – we are so glad it stopped raining.
Hope you are well!
Hans and Paul

Friday, March 14, 2014

We practice some sumo wrestling

Hello, everyone!
We had an interesting day yesterday. Unfortunately, it rained heavily all day, so we had to stay inside.
We looked at some books about Japan, and dreamed of what we want to see when the weather clears up. It is a very pretty country.
Then we watched some sumo wrestling on television. 
It looked like fun, so we thought we might try it ourselves!
These pictures show us different ways to win a match. We think it takes a lot of practice to do it right!

Now we say see you later - or, in Japanese Jya, ne!
Hans and Paul

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We arrive in Japan

We have arrived safely in Japan and were met by two sumo wrestlers! There is a sumo tournament this week on television. I hope we get to watch some!
After that, we helped our hosts choose something to eat. 
The sushi looks good, but Heather said she would take us to a sushi restaurant next weekend. So, we will have chicken and egg with rice. 
I guess we had better learn how to use chopsticks!  (Using chopsticks is very hard!)
We will write more tomorrow,
Hans and Paul
P.S. Heather says hello and thank you for letting us come visit.