Monday, August 6, 2012

Last Hurrah In Japan

And so we gathered—my mom, fiancé, and coworkers, both at separate times and together—to join in fellowship and express our gratitude for things given us by each other and the opportunities shared. It was a joyous time, not entirely without a healthy amount of stress and doubt over the future to come, but a time marking the end of a major chapter in my life.

In mid-July, I was welcomed into the Hashimoto home, the first of several visits to the place where my lady was raised.
The Hashimoto Family (Zen-Buddhist) Shrine
I spent considerable time conversing with Yume's mother and grandmother while seated around the kitchen table—the more exclusive domain of the Japanese women. Here, Yumeko poses with a bowel of dried, salted veggies as we munch on other healthy snacks.
Then we bounce outside to visit with the family dog—Mabou!
A dog and his owner.
Much as I love dogs, my camera can't help but veer more toward the adorable girl kneeling beside him.
That weekend, Yume and I made for Shimoda Park to go jogging and take in the sights from atop the high observation tower at its heart.
Some of my last views of the gorgeous "blue forests" for which Aomori takes its name.

The two of us at the end of our jog. (I wonder if you can tell what question she had just answered for me by the look on her face.)
A couple weeks later, my mom arrived in Aomori to help me pack and return to the US. Our first walk out around town and she stopped to snap this shot: something about it screamed "missing 'L'" to her~ ;)
Later, we ran across the Colonel who decided to follow suit and ask my mother's hand in marriage. (Don't know what you're getting into there, Colonel~!)
My mom got a kick out of this example of wasei eigo ("Japanese English") found in the food court at the local mall.
The following day, we drove to Kabushima Beach, and took a stroll up to see the adjoining shrine.
Climbing to the top…

At the pinnacle, we encounter no shortage of fearless "sea cats" (umineko, or sea gulls) guarding Kabushima, having dodged white splats from their backends all the way up.
That's right—shirtless and braving the bird scat!
A beach angel on patrol
Fortunately, the beach angel takes kindly to my presence after a brief swim.
At my farewell dinner, Mom was asked to get up and show off her tap dancing skills, minus the taps.
She clearly still manages to enjoy herself.
And I will never forget you. (Clockwise starting from the left: Ruairi McLaughlin [friend and fellow ALT], Mr. Yoshida [office aide], Mr. Tsukuda [schools coordinator], Mr. Tsutsumi [office head], Mr. Fujimori [schools coordinator], Mr. Kawaguchi [ALT coordinator], Mr. Isezuki [office aide], Ms. Komukai [office aide], Mr. Hakamada [superintendent], Mom [wonderful parent], and this guy [lucky dude]). Thanks Japan!