++ Japan 12.18.2002 - 1.10.2003 ++

After much planning thanks to my dad, the Yonezawas, the Shimadas, the Wakabayashis, and the Nakagawas i spent almost 3 fun-filled weeks in Japan without my parents. I wanted it to be a cultural experience and a good chance to practice japanese. It was exactly that and much more. It was probably the best experience of my life. I came home with extended japanese family and an even greater respect for japanese culture than ever.
First, mom and i flew to Japan (Business class ^_-) and stayed there one night (i consider it a long layover) then we flew into Incheon, Korea the next day to meet up with dad who was coming from Germany (we met up within minutes of arriving!) After we arrived at the hotel and had a little rest we went shopping at NamDaeMun (sp?) ! OMG. Buying wholesale ROCKS. Everything was so cheap! I only got a short-sleeved angora sweater and hairclips, but man, if i had more time and more money... >.< After spending the night in Seoul, we flew to Japan again and had dinner with the Wakabayashis and the Nakagawas (Kako's parents and sister's family) in Yokohama. Afterwards we went back to Tokyo and spent the night there. The next day, we met up and and had lunch with the Yonezawas and the Shimadas (dad's friend from college and her daughter's family). Then my parents returned home. That's when it all started. So here are just 1/4 of the pictures from the trip. I actually took over 200 pictures but I didn't want to post them all, if you want more you can e-mail me and just ask me for them. There are videos too (that's mostly for the families though..) So here they are. ^_^

// 12.22.02 - 12.28.02 :: Tokyo Area //

These are from: Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo, fish market in Tsukiji, home in Saginomiya, Hatsune-sama's home outside of Shibuya (her mother teaches saado and Hatsune-sama gave me a muffler from a boutique - 45rpm/badou-r - that sold clothes designed by one of the saado students), temple in Asakusa (i got "daikichi" from doing omikuji and then we had unagi donburi for dinner! mmm) , mochi-tsuke party at Masako-mama's friend's (Takamichi) house near Shinjuku (?). But I also went to Harajuku with Maho and spent most of the money i spent in my trip at a 6-story toy store called KiddyLand!

// 12.28.02 - 12.30.02 :: Ooiso & Hakone //

I took the train from the Yonezawa home to the Shimada home in Ooiso with all of my luggage. phew. Ooiso is on the coast and i loved it because it reminded me of Santa Cruz. ^_^ Maki and Kuni took me to Hakone to see Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi, the temple and the area around Hakone, Okudawari(?) (that place smelled so bad >_<). so short but it was fun ^_^

// 3 days with Erin //

I didnt get to spend that much time with Erin but we did hang out intermittently throughout my trip. Lots happened. Got a little lost in Shibuya (found a Love Hotel called La Michelle >.<), i tried to help her pierce her bellybutton in the bathroom of a department store in Shibuya which didn't work but she called me while i was in Ooiso and told me she was able to do it.. with a hammer >_<, went to Chinatown near downtown Yokohama, took plenty of purikura, went shopping at Landmark Plaza and took more purikura after, and the other 2 pictures are from when i was waiting for her at the station (hats! socks!).

// 12.30.02 - 1.10.03 :: Yokohama area //

they took me to see Tokyo Tower (i promised to take a picture of it for Ghewa), and spent some time in the Trick Art Gallery (so weird), spent all of the days of oshougatsu eating good food, sitting at the kotatsu, and watching tv (that was awesome ^_^), spent some time around Landmark Plaza (Mutsuko's husband Masaru works in Landmark Tower on the 50-something-th floor), then it actually snowed while i was in japan(!!!), then we all (except for Masaru b/c he had to work ;_;) went to a Hot Springs Hotel in Izu (really hot water), then spent some time in Jogasaki park, had lunch/dinner at Denny's (the utensils they set aren't fork and knife.. they're chopsticks that have a Denny's labelled wrapper!), stopped by Odawara castle on the way home, and on the day i was leaving they dressed me up in a kimono (not totally formally but enough to get the idea.. can barely bend over in it).