My girlie comes to Japan

I watched her plane land and pull up to the gate. Then I squealed with joy when I saw the wind whipping the long blonde hair of my pretty girl.

Now that my computer is finally back from having the motherboard replaced (who is the fatherboard?), I can make blog posts once more. So many things have happened since the middle of June when I last had my computer. I made the Fuji postwhen my daughter, Tara, aka girlie, was here and loaned me her computer. However, there is much yet to tell.

We got your dried fish in a bag, right here!

Tara arrived July 21st, and stayed 10 days. She left the drizzly cool fog of Humboldt County, California, and was dropped smack into the middle of this wretched heat and humidity. We hit some of the hottest temperatures all summer that week, poor kid. She was a trooper, and enjoyed Japan with me while slowly adjusting to the 16-hour time change and the weather.

I had been so stressed out in the weeks leading up to her visit because it would be her first solo international trip. She had to collect her bags in Tokyo, go through customs, go through duty free, and then find the domestic travel counter and get herself onto a local flight to Hiroshima. That’s a challenge for anyone, much less a 15-year old! (She turned 15 the day before her flight – happy birthday, kiddo!)

The Hiroshima airport has an observation deck on the roof, and from there I spotted her leaving the plane, and ran back inside, and down three flights of stairs. I hadn’t seen her since May, and I was missing her tremendously. I looked through the glass to baggage claim, and saw her the moment she came into the building. I was so relieved I started to cry, but I quickly got control of myself and smiled and waved through the windows. While waiting for her bag, she walked up to her side and put her hand on the glass, and I put my hand over hers on my side of the glass. That 10 minute wait seemed like forever!

Smaller shrines lined up beside the big one. These two had torii (gates) in front, one made of granite, and one of wood painted red.

Instead of being tired from 36 hours of travel, she chatted like a wind-up doll for the next 2 hours as we made our way home. On the shuttle bus, on the train, in the taxi, she chattered happily away, and I felt almost obliged to occasionally point: look! We’re in Japan!


The next day we hiked through town, and she did the best she could with the heat. I gave her the camera, and she took shots of all the things I used to notice myself: the tiled roofs of the homes, a turtle in the river, vending machines. “You were right, Mom, these vending machines are everywhere!” She began a game of trying a new drink every time we were thirsty.

Looking down the row of granite carvings
Tara posed in front of the white granite snake. White snakes, as you may have read in an earlier post, are a famous local resident of Iwakuni, Japan.

I showed her the lovely shrine I had discovered, with all the little shrines on the side, and the huge granite sculptures in the back. She loved the sculptures, and took a photo of every single one. We watched others praying, clapping and bowing and doing whatever it is they do in Japan at these multitudinous shrines and temples.

The weather was doing it’s best to wipe her out. We began looking for grocery stores, and popped into them every time we found one on the 4 mile walk. Grocery stores have the best air conditioning, and are also very entertaining to explore. I can usually identify only 1/3 to 1/2 of the vegetables. In one store, we found dozens of quail eggs on a shelf, next to the chicken eggs. We bought a peach, watermelon, water, and mandarin orange slices in some kind of clear jello. All the packaged fruit came in gelatin of some kind – nothing just in juice. We sat at a bus stop in the shade of a tree and ate our fruit, and then began walking again.

Respite from the heat in the shade beneath the Kintai Bridge. Miss T is glowing, but she was one hot and tired out kiddo at this point.

Then we made it to the Kintai Bridge. And since you’ve seen photos of it already, I’ll just include photos of stuff nearby.

Arches of the Kintai Bridge, leading to the old village at the base of the castle.
Lovely Nishiki River flowing through Iwakuni, with the castle on the hill.
Tara on the bridge, castle behind

We walked across the historic bridge, then explored the historic village on the other side. People live there now, but much of the area is public and touristy. There are gardens, statues, the snake house, Samurai house, water fountains big enough for kids to play in, a stage for performances, several restaurants, and many more things of interest. It’s all very nice and rather large. Miss T and I began to make our way through it, but it soon became evident that she needed food. We found a restaurant and made a bunch of hand gestures and got some food. Ha ha. For all the words I’ve learned to speak, I’ve only learned a couple of the kanji characters, and none of them help me read a menu. We ate, then got some ice cream, and explored some more.

Wielding her ballet bag like a weapon

It was early afternoon, in the 90s, and unbearably hot. When I say hot, you must understand. It’s not like 90s in Oregon, or 90s in Nevada. It’s 90s in a green house, where the air instantly sticks to your skin and feels thick to breathe. It’s step-out-of the-shower-and-instantly-sweat hot. We tried to rest in the shade, but girlie had had enough. Her face had been flushed bright red for the last couple of hours, and though I kept fluid pumping through her with the use of those vending machines, I could see it was time to get her cooled off.

Back across the bridge there was a taxi, and I splurged to get us an air-conditioned ride home. What had taken us 3 hours in the morning, took the driver 6 minutes in a car. We got back to the room, took showers, and lounged in the air conditioning the rest of the day!

She can’t tell you what it is, only that it’s good! In mere minutes, and with the unfamiliar chopsticks, Miss T empties the bowl of rice, vegs, and chicken.

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