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Monday, August 11

Summer Visiting

The paternal side of the Kimono family has come and gone. They spent two weeks here during the hottest time of the year in Japan. For that, I feel bad for them, but I think they had a wonderful time despite the tortuous heat and humidity.

While they were here, I spent the first week taking them to the usual local highlights… Kamakura’s Hachiman Shrine, Hase Dera and the Great Buddha. We had to break it up a little because the heat threatened not only my preggo self, but also his older aunt. No amount of water consumed stopped that dehydration and exhaustion process that the sun laid on us every day. I even broke the first week up with a trip to Daiei, a local mall. Since it was four women touring around each day while Kimono Hubby was out bringing home the bacon, I knew I couldn’t go wrong taking them shopping.

Each evening, we met back up with the man in the house and headed out for some local cuisine. I must admit that they were not the most adventurous eaters, but there were surprising moments. On the first night, KH’s aunt pronounced that she simply wasn’t hungry. None of us believed this, even though she swore up and down it was the truth until the day they left. We are more of the mindset that the look of the food at our favorite local restaurant threw her a little. If she reads this now, I know she will scoff. Besides their faces when seeing the food on that first night, the second best part of the night was the initial moment that each spent with their new tool… the chopsticks. KH’s mom and cousin picked it up right away, while his aunt struggled a little. This might have added to her aversion to any sort of meal that night. I gave the best lesson I could, but had to admit that the only way to learn was to practice, practice, practice.

The second day’s meals went a little better. We stopped at a soba restaurant in Kamakura for lunch, where they all choose the plain cold soba… a wonderful summer treat here in Japan if you ask me. They all seemed to honestly like that one. Dinner was at another Zushi favorite of ours, Matchpoint Curry Bar, where a hot udon dish seemed to make them all happy… along with the delicious and ever popular garlic potatoes.

Now the third day… that was something. Whenever anyone comes here, we really do believe that you should try one piece of sushi. We honestly ask only for one! So we took them to our favorite sushi-go-round for lunch, choose the tuna as it is the mildest of all fish and has the easiest texture to start with. I think they were expecting the sushi that is served in the states, the rolled kind and not the true sushi, the nigiri sushi, that is more popular here. The look on all three faces was priceless. Mom… sat and stared in horror, even noticeably gagging without ever even trying to pick up her one piece. The cousin… sat with the same horror on her face, violently shaking her head. The aunt… same look, but ballsy enough to pick it up and stuff it in. That’s where the really funny part came in. The noises and the face that she made while trying hard not to chew and simply swallow it was priceless and will not ever be forgotten by anyone at that table. She got it down, but hated it every step of the way. The other two pretty much refused to even try anything else after that, even though we ate their tuna for them. The lunch was a complete failure, only landing us at Wendy’s directly upon leaving the sushi-go-round. So much for trying anything new that day. All three of them apparently refused to trust us for the remainder of the day, which meant that there was only one option for dinner… Chili’s on base. There, they were quite happy and stuffed it in like they were squirrels storing up for winter.

Here I am going to skip ahead a bit, because we did a trip to Hiroshima over a long weekend, but I am not ready to write about that as my fingers just are too darn tired today. Instead, I am going to jump to the following week, when we were back in Zushi.

The heat was intense the whole time they were here. Did you know that extreme heat and pregnancy do not go together? Well, I should have known with the daily repeated lecture my husband gave me on the subject. I think he was mostly just tired of rubbing my elephant sized feet. Okay, probably not… he is extremely protective of me and the critter inside. I digress.

Back at home, we took the first day off for them to relax and me to run errands. By Tuesday, they were ready to roll again. My dread of the heat was enough for me to suggest Sea Paradise, a lovely little aquarium in Yokohama that I like to bring guests to. Still stinging from other Japanese food days that we forced them into, we went for lunch at a western restaurant in that area, followed by pizza from the base pizzeria that night. But you won’t find me complaining about staying in that night for dinner though. I honestly wasn’t doing so hot myself. In fact, I had been having pains for days (another reason why KH felt it okay to provide me with the daily lecture). It seems that even if you drink gallons of water and head out, it still just doesn’t matter. A few hours in the hospital the next day connected to a uterine contraction machine and an IV proved that little fact. Once my blood pressure was stabilized and there seemed to be no more immediate pains, they released me back into the wild… along with the orders to chill out a bit in the current temps. Now any woman with visiting in-laws knows that this is just not possible! They flew half way around the world to see Japan! It isn’t there fault that I happened to successfully procreate after their trip was booked! The doctor released me and told me that the next day’s tour (which was already a day behind because of the unscheduled hospital visit) to Asakusa in Tokyo was okay as long as I sat down a lot and drank three gallons of water. I was all set for this, but I tell you what… that husband of mine was having none of it. Now, this is a man who I have to beg and plead with to get him to take a day off of work. Here at this point, that wasn’t even necessary. When I told him I was still planning on it, despite being one of the worst times to take off, he did it. He worked a few early hours in the morning, arriving back home by 9:00 so he could start heading up to Tokyo. Me… once the door closed with all of them… I didn’t argue with my orders. I laid down on the couch and watched old movies until they returned later in the afternoon. Believe me, I was eternally grateful for the break and to not be out in that heat. Willing and able yes, but wanting… definitely no. Plus, it was so wonderful for KH to get the day to spend just showing his family around the country he has come to love so much.

For their last day in Japan, I was ready to go again. Japanese pearls had been mentioned, so I chose Yokohama as the final trip. Takashimiya Department store has a wonderful selection of Japanese pearls, so it was the logical place to start. Of course, I warned them about price, but the sticker shock was still hard on all of us. In the end, no one got pearls, but we did have a good time touring around the rest of the store and then also the mall underground from the train station. Being the final day, I also managed to encourage them to try one more Japanese cuisine… tempura. The place was utterly Japanese, but truly delicious. No one had a problem with the tempura itself, but the rice with the tiny fish on it did make them a bit squeamish. Only one denied her hunger here, but she cleaned up with two desserts at the cake and tea shop we stopped by later that afternoon. Since they had been such good sports for lunch, it seemed only fair to take them to our favorite Italian place along the beach that night. No one denies that Napoli Cantina is delicious and wholly western.

With this night, their trip was concluded. We left early the next morning to get them to the airport. Those rides there are always the quietest… everyone lost in their own thoughts. Arriving at the airport, it is always this surprise that we got there so quickly and have to say goodbyes… goodbyes that are always hard because you just never know when you will see that person again.

I am always so happy when guests visit and have a good time here, but I will never figure out how to get over the stillness left in their wake.

I hope you all had a wonderful time. I hope you experienced things you never thought you would. But most of all, I hope you know how much we love and miss you… and how much we look forward to seeing you again.

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