Yesterday I finally got around to transferring a huge chunk of photos off of my camera - mostly photos I took during the last few weeks we were in Japan, before jumping on the plane. Seeing these photos just makes me more 'homesick' for our lovely Mie-ken and for Japan, altogether. There are random photos of our tiny K-sized apartment, all bare and empty. I took photos during two different trips to places with Takeshi's friends from work - one trip to the nearby beach right outside of downtown Tsu with Kato-san, and the other trip to visit some really wonderful cafes in Sekijuku with Mayumi-san. Both were wonderful little day trips (or the beach trip was actually at night, though), and we had a lot of fun with both guys.
We ended up going to the beach one night, out of the blue, with Kato-san after we had been debating what to do together, before we left Japan. We finally decided to go buy a pack of fireworks from the Super Viva Home store and set them off at the beach, at night! It sounded great. A small percentage of the fireworks didn't work at all, but we were most disappointed that almost all of them didn't last longer than a minute before dying. But we had a variety of different fireworks and it was fun nonetheless. It very windy that night on the water, actually, which didn't help with trying to light the fuses with the click-lighter we also bought. It was a little funny though, because we were all trying to huddle around the lighter and protect it from going out. But that's what we got for doing this event last minute. We worked with what we had, and still had a good time. :) Takeshi took most of the photos of the fireworks, since he has found a passion for taking photos of fireworks. I remember him going crazy with his camera last year during all of the summer fireworks shows in the area. He managed to take some really neat looking ones that night!
The trip to Sekijuku with Mayumi-san was my favorite out of the two, for sure. It gave us a glimpse into yet another unique place in Japan, that doesn't have to be 2 hours away! It's just right next door to our city. :) And also, just another way of showing how close the Japanese are to nature and how they utilize natural surroundings instead of chopping it down or build things away from it. Mayumi-san had been interested in visiting this particular little neighborhood in Sekijuku because they had preserved the buildings for ages, back to the Edo period, even (not sure about that, but probably!). Mayumi-san had read about particular two cafes within the neighborhood, so off we went in search of them. Both cafes were extremely unique, and totally awesome in their own way. The three of us on the ride back, tried to debate about which one was better, but both were really equal, in the end. The first cafe 'Jikonka' was set in a single, small room, and they were serving 'lunch and sweet sets' that day. The meal was totally vegetarian, very delicious, and it was almost too much to eat, for me! All the seating was on the floor on the usual cushions, except for a pair of whicker chairs set at a tiny, round table. We sat at a low wooden table in the center of the room. It was the biggest table in the room and it about 8 people could sit at it. To the left of this table, next to the wall, was another pair of cushions, and two dark metal table-pieces that were placed together to mimic the look of a singular small table for two people. It was really interesting.
The second cafe we went to right afterwards used to be a pharmacy, actually. The man working there told us that the owner of the pharmacy passed away, and his wife continued to run it for a while, but when she died, the family decided to turn it into a cafe. Again, the building itself was ancient, and we were told that it was over 200 years old! Wow. The menu was simple, and short, only sticking to a few teas and coffee, and 2-3 different deserts to choose from. I ordered a coffee and a slice of cheesecake, and the boys ordered tea and slices of chocolate cake. No one was there except for us, so it we stretched out in our seats, and felt like it became our own little cafe for a bit. :)
This cafe was really unique because in the back-most room, the wall had been totally removed, leading out and down into a thick, but well-kept garden! So it really felt more like a back deck, but you were technically still under the ceiling of the room itself. It was so pretty to look at, while sipping our drinks and nibbling our treats. There's nowhere like that in the U.S.!