Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tour guide for a week.

DSC00051 My mom visited me over my spring break. She couldn't have chosen a better time to visit me. Her timing was perfect to see the world famous Japanese sakura (cherry) tree flowers in full bloom.
I am very happy and relieved that my mom made it to my city safely. I was very worried that she would get lost or freak out from Japan overload once she landed, but she handled herself quite well with a little help from some strangers. Six degrees of separation really does seem to come in play often in my life, especially when it concerned my mother's bus ride to Ruyo station (a train station about three miles from my home.) Apparently she met another woman who was also going to Ryuo to visit her son who has a similar job as me and actually knew me too. Go figure. So thanks to that lady's help, my mom's first experience in Japan wasn't as rough as I had anticipated.
DSC00011 My mom and I ended up visiting a few big tourist spots in Japan during our long week together. Our first stop was Kyoto, where we visited a few temples and shrines like Kinkakuji and Kyomizudera. My girlfriend, Yuko was a great help on our trip to Kyoto. I think my mom and her got a long pretty well. We ended up staying at a really nice hotel called the Hearton where I was able to get the much needed rest I deserved after a long day of walking.
DSC00064 The next day we traveled to Nara. We didn't see very much in Nara but it happened to be more interesting to my mom than a bunch of historic temples and shrines. I think she liked Nara better because of deer park. In Nara, deer run free through the parks and streets year round. They are used to human contact and kind of depend on people to feed them special deer crackers which are about 50 cents a piece. The deer are really cute and even bow for crackers. It is too bad there aren't any other places like that in Japan I could have taken her to. I think she prefers seeing animals and nature more than anything else in Japan.
DSC00045 I also took my mom to a bunch of cities in Tokyo to give her a taste of what its like to be in one of the biggest cities in Asia. We visited a few famous temples and landmarks like, Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace near Tokyo Station. After a few days of wading through the ocean of humanity that is Tokyo, we spent our last few days in Yamanashi. We went to a couple of national parks like Shosenkyo to see a nice waterfall and other natural structures. But the highlight of the trip for my mom was Mt. Fuji. She was really pushing to see Mt. Fuji the whole time we were together.  Unfortunately for her Mt. Fuji is only open to the public during a very short time frame of three weeks between July and August. Mt. Fuji is incredibly cold and dangerous year round despite Japan being DSC00012 unbearably humid during the summer months. But thanks to Yuko, we were able to drive up the mountain a few thousand feet to check it out up close. My mom really appreciated that and now she can say she's been on Mt. Fuji, although I think seeing it from a distance is just as good.
DSC00004 Our week together went by at a pretty good speed. I feel we got to see plenty of interesting things she can tell her friends about for plenty of years to come. Now she can scratch off Asia from her list of places to visit.
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