I have to apologize for my lack of updating. We came back after almost a month in Japan and I was pretty exhausted! BUT -- we had a fabulous time which I will try and detail in the next few blog entries! We basically spent part of the first week visiting some friends and then met our great friends Greg and Martha in Tokyo and then we all traveled together for the next two weeks.
So, like I said, we spent most of the first week of our holiday in Chiba Prefecture, which is the area I lived in during the 1990's for about three years. As you can see from the map below, Chiba City (where I taught) is pretty close to Tokyo (about an hour and a half from the heart of Tokyo):
at one point, we even drove by my old school and apartment which was odd because I thought they I would never see those places again! (but I do have to say that I spent happy, happy years teaching in Chiba!) We stayed with my fabulous (and gorgeous) friend Katsuyo and her delightful sons, Kehiro and Atsuto (her husband, Nao, was in Thailand on a business trip). During one of the days of our village we went to the new bridge connecting Chiba Prefecture and the other side of Tokyo Bay (i.e. Yokohama) -- the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line. With an overall length of 14 km, it includes a 4.4 km bridge and 9.6 km tunnel underneath the bay—the fourth-longest underwater tunnel in the world. I didn't think a bridge could be all that exciting but it was pretty cool. Once you go over the bridge -- but before you go below in the tunnel -- there is an "oasis" island that sits in the middle of the Bay. Here is a picture of Katsuyo and I chilling on the windy "island"!
We also got to meet up with Katsuyo's wonderful parents who really helped me so much when I was living in Chiba (I remember one time when I had the flu and her mother sent over lots of soup and yummy food). We went to a restuarant that serves shabu-shabu, which is sort of like fondue. You cook your meat in a hot pot and then put it in a variety of dipping sauces. Let me just say that we both ate so much that we were feeling pretty full for days!
Staying with friends the first few days was such a great idea, I think. It gave Jim a chance to acclimate himself a little to the Japanese culture and I had the chance to catch up with my friend. Katsuyo took us to lots of cool places and here are just a few images from some of the shrines and temples we visited:
Anyway, now that school is about to start and I will get into a more regular schedule, I promise to continue the story of our journey over the next couple of days!