Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Let's get together, yeah yeah yeah..."

This year's Golden Week was full of group gatherings.

It started last Thursday with a Japanese-style BBQ hosted by my friend Nao, who is in my English conversation class.

A variety of meats on the closest two grills and yakisoba (fried noodle dish) on the furthest one.

On Saturday, I participated in hiking and hanami in Morioka. "Hanami" is the Japanese name for a picnic underneath the cherry blossom ("sakura") trees.

I met up with a group from Iwate University and other ALTs at this pond...

...where we had a picnic in drizzly rain under cherry blossom buds.
(Not exactly the proper hanami experience.)

Just fifteen minutes away--at Iwate Park in downtown Morioka--the cherry blossom trees were in full, beautiful bloom...

On Sunday, I traveled a few hours northwest to stay with a missionary family who owns a Christian retreat center/camp for churches in Aomori prefecture.

My little buddy. :) So cute!

I volunteered at the center with my friend Takenori, and spent most of my time on Monday and Tuesday working in the kitchen with these lovely folks...

The lady on the far right is Miho, whose husband Bruce (an American) runs the center. I stayed with them and their three kids.

In the kitchen I stayed busy cleaning, washing dishes, chopping vegetables, making rice balls, etc.

My handiwork.

Making macha, a bitter green tea. The painting above his head is also hanging in our kitchen back home, so that was cool to see.

Bruce and Miho's children, who I really enjoyed hanging out with and getting to know. I felt like I was their older sister for a few days. :) We had so much fun singing all kinds of songs together. (They know every single word of "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" by Ray Stevens. Great song.)

On Tuesday afternoon, the group of about 50 or so had a delicious BBQ lunch.

Overall, I had a great time at the center and really enjoyed the Christian fellowship. The weather has (finally!) been nice, and the month of May has started out well.


Kate said...

oh my goodness dana... i used to sing mississippi squirrel revival at church when i was a kid and i totally forgot about it thanks for reminding me!!!

Lauren said...

I can't believe all the things you are doing and have done in Japan. I am so excited for you to come home and tell me more about your experiences!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun. I love the Japanese BBQ in the parking lot!! Seems like spring is late in Iwate this year!