Tokyo Family and Friends

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We spent a wonderful day at Enoshima and Kamakura with our great friends Keiichi, Piching and Nanami Takiyanagi.  They posed for us in fromt of the ancient caves on the edge of Enoshima island. Piching took this photo of us near the racks of fortunes left by visitors.  We've known Keiichi and Picking since 1990 when they were students at Northern Kentucky University and hung out at our house with Ken Sugiura, our first home stay student. Nanami posed in front of this great dragon who guarded a fountain.  You could wash your money there to get good luck.  Nanami means "Seven Seas" in Japanese or traveler.  Keiichi and Piching hope that she'll attend college in Cincinnati and live with us.  Nanami is already going to special after-school English classes.  She may be our "daughter" for 2015-2019. We all love sweets and Keiichi took us to an tea shop that served old fashioned style treats.  We enjoyed them sitting in the courtyard and admiring the garden. Keiichi's dad is now retired and tends his very large garden in Jindaiji, west of central Tokyo - tomatoes, beans, peaches, pears, blueberries and five bee hives.  He also has a terrific bonsai collection.  He's a true Edoko or child of Tokyo and loves to tell stories with lots of enthusiasm and body English. Mrs. Takiyanagi grows prize-winning roses from around the world.  It's a stunning rainbow of colors but here we only see a few of the floribunda giants. It's sometimes hard to get Keiichi to smile but I made a stupid joke and the guys joined in the fun. Our "grandson," Kanato (Ken's child) and his mom, Miho, joined us at the Sanja Matsuri.  It was great how many taiko groups would stop to let people have their photos taken. Here Kanato poses with one of the young ladies who rode a mikoshi in the parade.  He proudly wore his t-shirt from the Museum  Center in Cincinnati with his Boy George hat. Kanato was fascinated with the large gold cow in front of a beef restaurant.  It made a fun backdrop for our photo.   There's always someone willing to use your camera and take your photo - especially when you have such a cute kid with you. Here we are again.  This group actually asked us to pose for the photo.  Who could resist? One of the members of this taiko group had lived in Los Angeles for six years and his English skills made it easy to communicate.  Koki (third from the left) is an actor and acting teacher who has been playing taiko for one year.  Helen learned a lot and we hope to see each other at next year's festival with my students. Miho is so beautiful (yes, we're a bit prejudiced).  She had a great time taking photos and videos of the day's festivities. Another happy group, having just refreshed themselves with drinks after parading their mikoshi, were happy to pose with us in front of their float. We had a fun dinner with Aiko Okamoto Koida, her husband, Manobu and baby Nanami.  Aiko was friends with two of our students and we've stayed in touch.  Aiko's parents, Katsuhiko and Mieko Okamoto, joined us and with Miho and Kanato we were quite a crowd.  It took a little time to find a restaurant where we could park two strollers. What a wonderful family!  Aiko made a reservation for Nanami to live with us when she goes to college in Cincinnati.  Let's see, what will we be doing in 2025-2029?  Nanami's name means "Seven Seas" or traveler. Kazuko Fujita was our second student and attended Norther Kentucky University.  She's been a translator for an export company since she returned to Japan in 1995.  She met us for dinner in Tokyo and she's ready to help with our students next year. We met Mr. Suskai when he was at the Cincinnati Art Museum for the opening of an exhibit of his collection of Andrew Wyeth drawings and watercolors.  We were guests at his home in Asaka, north of Tokyo.  A lovely garden surrounds his home. Mr. Susaki is an avid collector of Japanese and Western artworks, from prints to sculpture, Hiroshige to Rodin.  On the right is his wife, a concert flutist. The evening before this, we enjoyed dinner at the Shintama Restaurant, owned by Mr. Susaki.  His son, Kato (on the left) joined us, as his father was just returning from Tucson.  Next is Otoya Nakamura, our host, who is Mr. Susaki's curator of the Wyeth collection.  On the right is Chieko, the manager of the restaurant.