Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Last Official Day - June 25

The day started with the presentations from all of the groups. They were all very interesting and entertaining. The Superintedent of the Inagi City Schools and two school board members attended the session. It was so nice to see them. The group from Ichinoseki had some pretty sobering pictures from the earthquake that happened over a week ago. They were very thankful to the people, because despite the natural disaster, the group was still warmly welcomed. They said an earthquake of that magnitude happens about once a century. After that, what else? We had a gigantic buffet. I'm glad only our bags are weighed on the way home! Then we had wrap up and registered for our class through Seattle Pacific University. Not everyone is taking the class, but it's basically just completing what we've already agreed to do. We had a break before the final farewell buffet, so a group of us hopped the train to the Meiji Shrine and the beautiful iris gardens.

Apparently the emperor would often walked these grounds because they are so beautiful. It took us awhile to find where we were going, so we had a whopping 20 minutes to walk the garden. That was too bad, because there were trails beyond the garden. Once again the Shrine is now located in the midst of a very busy business district, but when you are on the grounds you would never know it. It is so quiet! Of course you rarely hear cars honking horns or sirens anyway. We made it back to the hotel with about 45 minutes to freshen up before the Sayonara Buffet. Oka-san was able to attend the buffet after attending the session in the morning, so it was nice to spend one last night with her.
I ate sushi until my eyes popped out! Then we were treated to an Aikido demonstration.
Finally we sang "Auld Lang Syne". The Japanese speaking guides and guests sang it in Japanese. I think I wrote earlier that this is a popular song in Japan to sing at graduation. It is so popular that many Japanese students think it is Japanese folk song.
Then we sang in English. I think that's when it hit many of us that this is it. It's over. Our journey began 17 days ago and the time has just flown by. Our experiences have been very different but the feeling about Japan and its people is the same. This is a country of gracious, sincere, and friendly people, and the similarities between our countries far outweigh our differences. My unending gratitude goes out to the government of Japan and the JFMF organization for this opportunity of a life time.


Richard said...

Wow, what a journey! Thank you for doing the blog, Anne! We surely got a feeling for your travels by reading, looking, and clicking.

Richard said...

Thanks again for all of the photos and thoughts in your blogs! You must be on the plane right now. I hope you get some sleep, but I also hope you get up and move on such a long flight. You've got to keep that blood circulating in that pressurized cabin.
We hope we'll be able to see you in a week to 2 weeks!

Jill said...

It sounds like you had an incredible experience in Japan! I'm so glad that you had such a great time! And from the looks of that photo of your group, it seems like you went with a pretty fun bunch. I look forward to hearing more about your experience when you get home ... and if you can remember, you'll have to tell me about the favorite foods you had. I'm very curious. I never took you for a sushi girl! You're developing quite the international palate!