The time has come. Amber is finishing up her last couple days at the school and we’re both getting ready to head back to America. But first let’s rewind a couple months. This post will cover a little of this and that, everything we’ve been up to lately.
This is Saito, our quaint little town.
We were invited by some members in our branch to come to their BBQ under the Miyazaki bridge. It’s one of their regular hangout spots. Pretty cool.
We tried some crazy things like pork tongue, intestine, and soft chicken bone. For an American, it’s difficult to eat but worth trying I suppose. The chicken bone was the most bizarre but they love it. Not sure why. Fortunately there was some excellent beef too.
Even had some fireworks. I think it was some Japanese holiday but can’t remember which.
This is Tristan, our good neighbor. He’s been teaching at his schools here for 2 years and is heading home as well.
Having some fun at our weekly Eikawa (English class).
We heard about a surf competition down south in Nichinan so we made the trip. It was a little disappointing since the surf was so small. On the bright side, this was the day that Dennis loaned me his board to keep and use for a couple months. Thank you Dennis!
Local girls at Nichinan.
Dennis helped us with our insurance and also hooked us up with some kumquats. Happiest guy you’ll ever meet.
Our last time at the Takachiho farm ice cream shop in downtown Miyazaki. It closed down just after this. We’ll miss these perfect cones.
And thus begins surf season. CheehoO!
Big swell at Takanabe. So fun.
So this was an awesome day. We stopped by to admire the $50-$80 dollar boxes of mangos and as we’re standing there, this guy that is always so nice to us begins answering my questions about why on earth they’re so expensive. He then says wait here then comes back with a set that he hands to us, for free! We were totally blown away. It comes with this little booklet that tells you how to cut them and how they’re grown like little babies in precious little nets in a green house etc. Anyway, the bottom line is they are out of this world! You cube them up and then flip it inside out giving you those bite size pieces which wouldn’t work on a hawaiian mango since there’s too much fiber. We had one each day. We figured they’re at least $15 each. That’s about a dollar for every bite. Thanks cool store guy!
This day I took a surf tour up the coast and discovered some interesting spots. This old man and woman had a nice garden right by the ocean.
Some of the beaches are a bit strange like this. Huge concrete barricades and cement slopes to protect against a tsunami. There are countless of these barricades along the east coast, however, they obviously weren’t enough for the massive tsunami last year.
I’ve been keeping track of the rice growth here. This is almost full grown.
In Japan, we use an “Inkan” stamp instead of a signature. I never got one so Amber must think she’s pretty cool.
This was our last district conference in Kagoshima. 3 hour bus ride all for a conference in Japanese we can’t understand. haha. Still worth it though I guess.
So I finally made it. The Ocean Dome. I had dreams of how awesome it would be to experience the world’s greatest artificial wave pool. After arriving to Japan we were informed that it had been permanently shut down. I still wanted to see it just for kicks and it was clear why it was closed, old and falling apart. When it was in operation, that roof up there would open up like a stadium and they had an artificial beach with an amazing wave pool. Oh well. I shed a tear. These images give you an idea of what I missed out on.
This is the beach right behind the ocean dome. Who needs the ocean dome when you got real waves right! It was another beach with a concrete slope and it goes for miles. So. much. concrete.
Downtown Miyazaki. We discovered this is probably the red light district. Scantily clad girls everywhere.
Sunday afternoon at the Petersens. Their daughter Aileen and son-in-law Peter (and new baby Ethan) were there as well as their daughters Julie and Heidi that were home for the summer. Such a fun family.
This is Noel who I teach the Eikawa class with. Really cool guy.
Other branch members hanging out.
Heidi doing her ASL story telling. Funny stuff.
My favorite kakigori here.
I felt like this puts the Japanese people’s ability to speak English into perspective.
This was our 4th of July beach BBQ with the Petersens. Good time.
Amber heading to the prefectural office to receive her certificate from the governor of Miyazaki.
All the departing JET teachers.
The after party. Unfortunately not as good as the JET welcome party.
We had to get back home early since we were leaving in the morning to a wedding in Fukuoka. This is my favorite guy. He’s always super nice and when I asked how much to check the air in our tires, he just laughed and did it for free.
We took off super early and headed straight into a vicious lightning & thunder storm. Thankfully it finally cleared and we made it to Fukuoka in a record 3 hours! We attended the temple sealing of Kiyomi & Yuki, fellow alumni from BYU Hawaii. The sealing was nice. Kiyomi is an only member so unfortunately her family couldn’t be inside but still a special experience for the two of them.
They were married in the Fukuoka temple and had their luncheon and reception in Iizuka, Kiyomi’s hometown.
They transitioned into different attire based on the part of the reception. When we were with them in Iizuka a couple months ago she was deciding between western or traditional. Turns out she decided to do it all, including some hawaiian in there too. haha. Funny girl.
Glad we could be there on their special day. Thanks for inviting us!
Amber at the Junior High.
One of Amber’s Junior high classes. Notice the 2 boys hiding on the left. They think they’re pretty funny.
This is a normal occurrence. When they see me outside to pick up Amber, they all gather at the windows and shout whatever English they know. When I shout something back they get all excited and don’t know what to say next. haha. A funny site to see. Sometimes the attention can be a bit overwhelming.
Some students feeding a baby bird one of the girls brought to school.
One of Amber’s displays in the hallway.
Full grown rice. Don’t know why I was so curious about it.
This was our anniversary dinner. 3 years!
Peter and I heading to Kisakihama beach.
Best sign ever.
Biggest horsefly I’ve seen in my life. It was like over an inch long!
Once I told Peter they bite and it flew over by him, he jumped out of the car like bat out of hades. hahaha. So funny.
Good clean break. Kisakihama has an all-sand bottom.
My favorite drink in Japan.
Peter and baby Ethan.
This was Amber’s goodbye Enkai with the JTEs from her school. It was my first.
The most amazing raw salmon and sashimi.
We both tried the snails. Amber accidentally ate the hard part and almost gagged. They got a kick out of that.
This is the famous Zushi sensei. Coolest guy in whole world but man does he like to drink! Such a crack up. He’s a big golfer. When I asked him what he loved more, golfing or drinking he paused a long time and said, I can’t answer that question. haha.
After Amber gave a speech thanking everyone they asked Zushi to say something and he had already drank so much he could barely remember his English. lol
They thanked Amber for all she’s done and gave her a bouquet of flowers with some goodbye gifts. It was really nice of them.
Yuiko Kawano from the branch heard that I liked udon and kakigori so she invited us to a unique shop in Miyazaki. Behold the biggest kakigori you have ever seen. Took 5 of us to finish it. So awesome.
Heading to the beach with the Petersens.
Heidi the merman king.
Afterwards we headed over to the Petersens old home in Miyazaki that they were demolishing the next day. Their kids lived there most of their childhood.
Dennis always smiling.
Hanging out on the roof.
Afterward we headed to Sushido. Good times.
Such a fun family. We’ve really enjoyed having them around.
Amber and I tried the fish eggs. Very different.
Check out that stack. We did pretty well.
Hitting up the video store. Lots of familiar titles. They make old movies look like new releases. I get the feeling Japanese people don’t care as long as it’s good.
Amber invited her Junior high teacher she works with to come to the Eikawa at the branch. Nice lady.
Grabbed some ice cream at Mickey D’s afterwards with the Petersen crew.
There was also a festival going on outside. Aileen wanted to grab some squid so we both tried it. Let’s just say they like it alot more than we do.
The Tsuma high school girls basketball team. Only one of their players has some height. Good enough I guess.
Making some friends.
So this hotdog creation was just a little too bizarre to pass up. It tasted better than it looked. What cracks me up is the fancy packaging.
Here they are. The bane of my existence here. These bags are only a portion of the trash sorting that’s required. Can’t WAIT for that to be over.
Saturday, hanging out and watching some old home videos with the Petersens. That’s Aileen as a baby smearing lipstick all over her crib.
We had actually planned to have a surf day with Dennis and the family but it was stormy most the day. Finally it started to clear in the late afternoon and Peter and I decided to still head out at Kisakihama.
Ended up being the most epic surf ever. Also my last time surfing in Japan. Great day. Great memories.
The Petersen kids had to get to a BBQ in Nichinan so Amber and I headed to Aoshima island aftwards for a sunset walk.
The island’s shores were all shells. And I was barefoot the whole way. Ouch. Picked some up for the wifey.
Our last sunday with the branch. Amber and I were asked to speak on the 4th article of faith. Julie and Heidi translated for us. It’s so impressive that they have such a solid comprehension of 2 languages and cultures. Very unique.
The branch moved the potluck a week early so we could have a goodbye kind of thing. They had members ask us questions like how we met and what our future plans were. Thanks Miyazaki branch. You’ve been great to us!
We swung by our Saito udon & kakigori shop one last time. A bunch of Amber’s students were eating inside and when they saw Amber walk in they all flipped out screaming ANBA!!!! They all huddled around and demanded PIKCHA PIKCHA!
They have my favorite udon with shrimp tempura.
And the highlight of course, kakigori with miruku (shave ice with sweetened condensed milk).
So here it is. The closing event. This is basically going to be a repeat of the email so feel free to scroll through.
Amber was asked to give a goodbye speech in japanese and was so nervous. She did so great and everyone was impressed. After her speech, they said alot of nice things about the work she’s done and how great she’s been at the school.
They then brought her up a huge bouquet of flowers and the band unexpectedly started to play the American national anthem. That got Amber really emotional up there. I felt so proud of her and even got a little choked up too. Amber described her emotions as bittersweet. We can’t help but love and miss our home country, now appreciated more than ever. But the japanese people have been so great. After the anthem, the students parted in the middle as if they were making way for royalty.
They all clapped and reached out to touch her hand. I thought to myself, wow, American schools would never do this for a foreign teacher. They are a great people.
It’s been a journey for us both but I feel so much pride in my wife for the courage it has taken to step a thousand miles out of her comfort zone and come here to teach a foreign people in a foreign land. We’ve had our struggles but I know that we’ll look back and be thankful we were given this opportunity. We’re so grateful for everyone’s support and are so excited to see you all in a few days! Thanks and love to everyone in Japan that has made this year a special experience. ありがとうございます ! ! !