Sunday, August 19, 2012


Well, this was obon week.  Basically that meant that everyone was gone visiting relatives' gravesites and so you stay off the roads because they are really crazy.  Also it means that everyone is on vacation someplace.  And if you are lucky, like we were, you find a festival and have some fun!

Matsushima Festival

On our way home from district meeting last week (we had nachos with fresh salsa--and I had actually FORGOTTEN that I LOVE fresh salsa) oops, I digress, we were on our way home from district meeting and tried the road through Matsushima (remember the beautiful islands?).  Anyway, they were having a festival and it looked REALLY fun so we decided to make a day of it the next day to check it out.

The next day we left around 9:15 to try to avoid the busy roads and the festival crowds.  We picked up Brittney Phelps and Tatiana Taylor who teach English nearby.  They are both from the states.  Brittney is going home this week and Tatiana is taking her place.  Anyway, they were off for the week because of Obon.  We were excited that the long bridge to Fukuura Island is now open and so we headed there first.  The entrance fee is only 200 yen ($2.25) and well worth it!

Here are the three of us:

After exploring the island (it was a hot, humid day but cloudy so that helped), we stopped at a food stand and bought caramel tapioca drinks (at least Brittney and I did), an ice cream cone for Tatiana, and a whole pickled cucumber on a stick for Calvin.  Sorry didn't get a picture of that!

Then we headed off for shopping and more sightseeing.  We visited Entsuin Gardens again (we have to see it in every season!) and it didn't disappoint us.  It's always fun to see the plants and what is growing.

Tatiana is a real camera bug so she found plenty of photo ops for us.  There is actually a cemetary inside the gardens (we keep saying the people must be rich to afford to be buried there) and with it being obon week, the gravesites were all decorated with fresh flowers and the favorite food and drinks of the dead:

Then it was off to our favorite restaurant with the menus written on the wall and your choice of "raw" or "fried."

By the time we finish our mission, you will be so familiar with this food, that you will want to come just to have it!

One of the most interesting things we saw this time around was at a couple of local doll shops.  The kokeshi dolls are wooden dolls and here in our area there is a certain type that has a round head and is painted.  Well, the day we were there, there was an old man carving these dolls.  He had been doing this for the past 60 years:

There was also an area in the store that you could paint your own dolls:

And in another store, we saw a man painting the dolls to sell:

And finally, the finished products on the shelves:

These dolls are beautiful and they are actually made by these people!  And they are not really that expensive ($10 on up).  For sure, I'll be going back to get some before we leave!

Indoor BBQ and Hand Massages

Saturday we were invited to a BBQ that was first going to be at a park a ways away but the weather didn't cooperate so it was moved to the Church--inside the Church:

If you added up all the meat I have eaten in the past 8 months it might not add up to how much I ate last Saturday!  We had every kind of meat and lots of it!

And at the same time as the BBQ in the Church, another group of Church members were having a hand massage activity that we were also invited to join:

It is called a "hand" massage but it is really a "hand and arm" massage.  And the Japanese love these.  I learned how to do it quite a while ago.  You use an oil and give a good massage to the arm and hands!

What Comes Around Goes Around

So when we were at Matsushima, my hair was driving me crazy.  I basically just pulled it back over my ears and it was so long in the back I was thinking of putting it in little ponytails!  Plus the dye job I had a while back had faded so much that my hair was quite brown, not at all black.

I kept wondering how I was going to get Takie to notice but I didn't have to wait for long.  The day after we went to Matsushima she called and asked if I could go with her to run some errands.  She took one look at my hair and said maybe she should cut it that afternoon!

So after a perm (yes a SOFT perm--only on the sides and in the back--NOT on the top!), a cut, a dye job, and then more cutting this is what it looked like:

Yes, I love it!  And why not?!  It is basically the same cut I have had for the past 20 years!  A little longer and with more body but really close.  And she made my hair black again (she REALLY wanted me to go brown/red but I said NO).  And I am getting used to not having salt and pepper too.  It was such a change that Brittney (who always notices how people look) didn't recognize me at first when she saw me at Church!

The really funny thing is that I did NOT tell Takie to cut it that way, she just decided I looked better with my hair short!

Sunday Concert

After Church we had "linger longer" which means we had great food to eat.  I am always amazed what I learn at these things.  Who knew you could have pickled flowers?  Then after the luncheon, we had a two-hour concert!

These are three of the singers doing their Peter, Paul, and Mary imitation of Puff the Magic Dragon:

And another photo of the singers during their last number:

It was all good and everyone loved it.  We had about 40 people in attendance and many non-members which was really good. Our neighbor downstairs came and had a great time.


A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of a flower and asked for identification.  Many people actually answered, most saying it was a lily.  But the real winner was Stephen Howells.  His reply was that it was a mountain lily called yamayuri with the scientific name of Lilium auratum and related to the tiger lily!

Brother Howells, I definitely owe you a plate of cookies--but believe me you will want to wait until we get back home because I have no oven here and my attempts at cookies have been pretty bad at best!


  1. On that note, we're having a baby girl in December and naming her lily hanako. Love reading your blog.

  2. I forgot to comment couple blog ago but the instrument that marching band was playing kind like little piano is called piranica and we usually learn how to play in elementary school. I remember playing one of those.

  3. I look forward to the cookies. I wish I could come and claim them in Ishinomaki. The cookies may not be as perfect but I would be there.