I had a wonderful visit with the Nishimuras (the family that took care of us when I came to Japan in 2005) in Chiba for the New Year. Here's the recap:
(Big Hop - complete with Ferris Wheel)
After dinner, Keiko and I headed to a spa for a professional massage (my first ever). It was awesome. Minako wasn't feeling well, so I spent the night in her apartment by myself and she stayed at the kindergarten - she had to be there early for a fire inspection anyway.
(Inzai Shion Kindergarten - our home away from home for three months)
until it looks like this.
add natto, radish, or other japanese condiments and enjoy.
Yui-chan, Keiko and Shuichi's daughter
Nozomo-chan, Majelyn and Naoshi's son
After omochi, Majelyn and I tried some calligraphy with the help of Keiko-sensei:
this is mine...it says "faith"
Minako and I went to Katsuko-sensei's (she works at the kindergarten) house where there were many church members gathered for some karaoke fun.
Minako and I went shopping at the mall across from the church (where we used to go grocery shopping every week in 2005) and then we met up with the Tan-sans...our adopted Japanese grandparents! In 2005, the Tan-sans invited us over for dinner and taught us how to make Japanese food like curry and gyoza. When they heard I was back in Chiba, they asked me to come over for dinner and spend the night for New Year's. They're still as awesome as ever.
Mr. Tan, Mrs. Tan, and Mrs. Tan's sister
In Japan, the New Year is a time for family, not parties and drinking like the States. So, the Tan-sans' family came over (two sons, their wives, and two grandkids). We had yakiniku - which was awesome. They can't speak English very well, so there wasn't much talking, but it was still wonderful to see them again.
In the morning, we had a traditional Japanese New Year's meal: zoni soup and a lot of seafood. It was strange eating crab legs and shrimp at 9 am, but hey - I love those things, so who cares?
Then, it was off to church for a New Year's Day service.
me and osuka-sensei, one of the teachers at the kindergarten
naomi-chan, majelyn and naoshi's daughter
Then, after church, I had lunch at the Nishimuras' and then I headed back to Tokyo station to catch the bus back to Shizuoka.
Now I have a few days to relax until it's back to work on Tuesday - hooray!