Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Heading Home

Well, it's been a wonderful trip to Japan. I'm sad to be leaving. It's been great getting to know Eiko's family. I wish we weren't so far apart and it was easier to spend time with them. It makes the time we do have very special indeed. I could easily see myself living here, of course then I'd be in the same situation with my family.

Today we gave Eiko's parents the "Passion of the Christ" movie and the Magna Bible we brought for them. We had a great talk with Eiko's mom about Christianity and what it means. It's a very simple thing really that is often made very complicated. We talked a bit with Eiko's dad too and trust in the working of the Holy Spirit.

If you feel prompted, please pray for Eiko's mom's hands and right ear. She said her hands were feeling better after we prayed but she still can't hear out of her right ear. I'm asking for a miracle as evidence in her life that God is at work with her.

Many blessings and thanks for the prayers and support,

Ken

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday!

Today we went to Church. It was great to see Japanese brothers and sisters in Christ. What a blessing it is to see their perseverance and love in the face of the cultural difficulties. There was one older man there that had been a member since the Church started some 40 years ago. Let's just say there weren't many of his generation in Church but the Church is on their 3rd generation now and lots of kids are there with their parents.

One girl we met today was an early childhood friend of Eiko's who had been a member of this Church all her life. They were quite surprised to see each other. In fact, Eiko's mom new quite a few people there. Her mom was really surprised at how friendly everyone was and how she could even talk with a Dr. and University Professor on an equal basis. I guess Japan still has a bit of a cast society feel to it at times. For sure, I was really blessed that her mom wanted to go with us :-) and doubly blessed that she enjoyed herself. The free lunch after the service wasn't a bad touch either. Eiko's mom even talked about her experience with the rest of the family over dinner tonight.

After Church Eiko, her dad, and I went to another traditional village to do some shopping, visit an art museum, and take some more great pics. I look forward to getting them posted.

Well, it's 11:30 pm again and I'm cooking breakfast for everyone again tomorrow. My pancakes have been a big hit. :-)

Me

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Golden Temple

So here is a short but funny story. :-)

Eiko and I were at a pretty famous place here in Japan near Kyoto, (where Nijo Castle is). Like most public restrooms here, the bathrooms have cold water only and no soap or towels or hand dryers in them. It was pretty much the same for me in S. Korea. This public restroom was even worse. I did at least have cold water to wash my hands with. As I was walking back up the stairs towards Eiko I overheard to caucasian women talking.

The first woman apparently had just returned from the women's bathroom and was more than disgruntled as she reported to the second woman. All I heard was, "there's no toilet paper at all just a hose on the ground!" Well, lets just say that I'm glad as a man I don't need toilet paper to empty my bladder.

So, back to the pics. :-) It was a rainy day but it was still a good one. As such, I only took a few shots with my nicer camera and mostly used Eiko's smaller one. Sadly, I had forgotten to take the date stamp off from the last time I used it to document some things. :-P None the less, I hope you enjoy the pics.




Like us, this crane simply was staying out the rain. Wasn't a whole lot going on. We did see it bob for a fish once though. You can't tell from the photo but there is a roof covering the bridge and out over the crane as well.






This "Golden Temple" was actually a home for a wealthy lord or at one time. It was then taken over as a summer home by one of the emperors I think. Eventually it was donated and turned into a Temple.



We weren't allowed to go in but from some of the pics I've seen the floors are covered in a black lacquer. The walls are covered in a gold foil and the reflections both inside from the floors and outside on the water are quite impressive. Doesn't take much light inside to light it up!


If you google it you can find out more info. I'm sorry that I don't have it all together. It's 11:30 pm here and I need to get to bed. We are going to a Japanese Church tomorrow. :-) I'm quite excited!



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Update

It's Monday morning and we are about to head out for another castle. :-) I'm very excited. I've seen some pretty cool things here already. Yesterday we met up with some of Eiko's friends, one of whom was at our wedding. It was good to see her and her new baby. From there we went to the home of one of them and walked around their village. I got some good shots I'm looking forward to posting. There is a traditional village set up and it was pretty cool to see the old style of living.

Well, we are about to go so I need to go.

Blessings,

Me

Nijo Castle

Hello and it's good to finish one post!

This was our first stop after our long trek of getting to Japan. The pics below are pics of Nijo Castle in Kyoto Prefecture which at one time used to be the capital of Japan. I have included a brief history of Nijo from Wikipedia to give it some context.

"In 1601, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, ordered all the feudal lords in Western Japan to contribute to the construction of Nij┼Ź Castle, which was completed during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1626. Parts of Fushimi Castle, such as the main tower and the karamon, were moved here in 1625-26.[1] It was built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns. The Tokugawa Shogunate used Edo as the capital city, but Kyoto continued to be the home of the Imperial Court. Kyoto Imperial Palace is located north-east of Nijo Castle."

One of the cool designs of this palace are the wooden floors of the hallways. I could not take any pics of inside the main building as it's not allowed but let me explain a bit anyway. Inside are many rooms of course, but as Japan was a cast society, certain rooms were for certain casts. There were rooms for just the Shogun ruler and attendants as well. As you walk through the hall ways the floors squeak. Thin metal inserts were put under every floorboard and set in such a way that as weight was put upon the board, the metal would bend slightly causing a squeak making it impossible to sneak up on the Shogun. No Ninja sneaking up at night to kill anyone inside and the way it's designed, you can tell exactly where the "intruder" is at location wise. Pretty clever!

This is the outside moat leading to one of the main gates. The idea being that if attacked, the attackers would be funneled into a narrow area for easy killing as there is but one bridge. Pretty much the same idea for every moat ever made. Got to love the art of war. :-P




In case you are wondering, it's a fish. All the castles I've seen so far have giant fish as decorative additions. Not sure why a fish.





This is just inside the castle gate. Just trying to show the size of the place. It was pretty impressive in its size.


Looking back at the gate from the inside.


The Guardhouse is below.





Here you are looking just past the end of the Guardhouse at an inner wall that you saw in the pic from just inside the gate.


The doors are actually pretty big. I have some shots using my wonderful assistant to show some size in scale.


Eiko is just over 5' so as you can see, these are no small doors!


This is the inside of the outer wall. Some nice shots coming up.













The Chery Trees and other flowering trees are just coming out. We got some good shots at the Palace we went to. I'll get those up later.


Just to give you some idea of what you are looking at pic wise. We came in at the bottom left entrance and you'll see pics from all the way around. :-)


Again, just trying to show the size and scope.


This is another gate leading to the inner areas.
















Here we are just inside the last gate looking at the main building housing the Shogun. This is where he would hold court and conduct official business as well as live.










This gate was on the other side after having walked through the maze of hallways on the inside.


Another large court yard


I played a giant version of find the pea and got to keep the prize! =) Ok, really, we are just passing through another wall following the path that takes you to the rock garden.


click on the pics :-)










If you remember from the map pic from earlier, there were moats on the inside as well. We are
getting close to the back gate of Nijo Castle. We walked all the way around to get back out though.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Hello :-)

Well, today is the last day of our sight-seeing and tonight we go to Eiko's parent's apartment. Once there I will have some time to post some pics and at least one funny story. :-)

We've been running running running and it's been fun but I look forward to slowing down a bit and staying in one place. So far we've been to the Golden Temple, the Nijo Palace, a famous park that at one time used to be an Emperor's estate, and a movie set where traditional movies and commercials are made, the Samurai and traditional village stuff. It was pretty cool. :-) I was offered a role in an upcoming film as the hero but had to decline as we were moving on. :-P

Ok, so I'll get some good stuff on here soon. :-)

Me

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My First Morning in Japan!

Good Morning!

Well, Eiko and I finally made it to our hotel after traveling for nearly 24 hours. Exhausticated was a good word to describe our condition. Exhausted but excited. We had a great nights sleep after a couple of wonderful showers and the room we have is pretty nice. It's even got an air purifier in it. :-)

Now it's the first morning and we are getting ready to head out and hit some museums and yes, some very old castles that were strategic during the Shogun era. I can hardly wait! (I want to buy a Samurai Sword but me wife won't hear of it!)

So, I have to keep this blog post very brief. Now it's my turn in the bathroom to get ready and then out the door. It's nice to have things to blog about again. :-)

Me