Nagoya, Gifu, Inuyama

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We spent a wonderful three days with the Kosaki family in Nagoya.  Junichi Kosaki loves Japanese history and researched the stations of the Tokaido in the Nagoay area, looking for restorations and museums that had information about life during the Edo Period.  Steve and Junichi posed in front of the restored Arai checkpoint. We visited inns that served the daimyo and samurai traveling from their home provinces to Tokyo and back.  At Futagawa in a restored hotogaya, an inn for merchants, we studied a display showing a typical meal of broiled fish, vegetables, pickles and rice. The hotogaya reproduced the signs posted by merchant associations who used the inn.  If they belonged to the association, they got a discount on their rooms.  Junichi pointed out that one association was of tea merchants because this was a famous tea growing area. Junichi is a bundle of energy and helped us learn so much about the day to day life of people along the Tokaido about 1830.  We got him to pose for a photo in the garden of a waki-honjin (2nd level inn for samurai) in Maisaka. Aiko Ando lived with us for three years and we became friends with her parents.  Aiko married Kakuyuki Ota in 2006 and we spent a fun two days with them in Gifu.  In front are Aiko's parents Toyoko and Bunichi Ando. We always take an album of photos showing our recent projects, classes, etc.  And we must always, always have photos of the cats.  Here Aiko and her parents study the album. On our first trip to Japan in 1987 we met Shinichi Sugita.  This year we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our friendship.  Of course there was beer at the backyard barbeque. We've seen the Sugitas every time we've visited Japan and have watched their children grow up.  In front are Nao, age 16, Usuke age 19; behind are Helen, Rie and Shinichi.  Their youngest son, Hiroaki age 12 was at cram school. Nao baked a cake for our party.  She is studying English and thinking about a visit to America.  Usuke is in technical college studying computer programming. On the right is Iku Shibata, a ceramic artist from Tajimi.  He was Japan's artist for the Clay, Color and Fire project in 2003 and we were his host family.  He's been back two more times, the last time to exhibit his work at the Krohn Conservatory.  This photo was taken with his mother in her garden. Mrs. Shibata is an Omotosenke tea master and hosted a tea ceremony for us.  Her brother was a national living treasure and she used one of his Oribe style tea bowls to serve us. The Tajimi area is famous for its tea bowls and Oribe ware is noted for it's deep green glaze and vigourous brush stokes.  The designs are always asymmetrical and follow the Zen aesthetic of simplicity. With us on the right is Kanako Shibata, our "Tajimi Boss" and her boyfriend Ryo.  Kanako is helping prepare for my students' visit to Tajimi next year. Iku and his mom are both generous and outgoing.  Everyone they meet is a potential new friend. Iku hosted a great dinner for us in his home.  A major feature was the beer tasting, and they sampled four different brands. Ryo and Kanachan join in the fun.  Ebisu Green Label won the beer tasting.  Kanachan was living with us when Iku first stayed in Cincinnati.  They've been friends ever since. On the right is Iku's wife.  She is a pharmacist, just like Kanako, maybe that's why they get along so well together. Iku's oldest son is in management training at McDonald's (they're very popular in Japan).  May-chan, the tiny kitten in his lap, showed up at Iku's studio a few weeks ago.  He couldn't resist and adopted her. Hiroko Takagi was our third student and she returned to Inuyama after graduating from Thomas More College.  After working in the corporate world, she is now starting her own translation business, called Transworks. In Inuyama, we enjoyed an ukai lunch cruise with Hiroko's mother, Harue (center) and aunt, Katsura (left).  Although they've lived in Inuyama all their lives, they'd never seen the ukai fishing demonstration before.  We enjoyed a laugh together - it's the third time we've seen an ukai demonstration, thought the first time in Inuyama. We met Hiroe Tsuchiya in 1993 when she was a translator for a group of dancers from Gifu who performed in Cincinnati.  We've stayed in touch and now we are having fun watching their children grow up.  This is Rika, their youngest daughter. Kimitaka and Rika flash the peace sign, a standard Japanese pose. Yuka is their oldest daughter and is now six years old.  She and Steve had great fun playing with the cell phone that we rented. Taku Moritou was our guide for a fantastic day at the Atsuta Shrine Festival in Nagoya.  Thanks to him we got some wonderful photos for the Tokaido project - check it out for Station 41, Miya.  Taku was at UC for a year and is now in a masters program preparing to be an English teacher.  His teachers were very kiind and excused him from classes so that he could be our translator.