We were able to visit my grandmother for Mother's Day. The kids actually had a great time at my grandma's place.
Here's Ellie posing with her namesake. She is named after my Aunt Sumie, who is my mom's younger sister.
Something that I was thrilled to be able to do was visit my grandfather's grave. He passed away ten days before my mother did last year. It was a very interesting experience.
Here is my aunt cleaning the grave stone. Every stone in the cemetery was sparkly clean. It was beautiful and impressive. The stone is actually the marker for an entire family. So far, my grandfather's ashes are the only ones in this grave, but it is intended for the entire family.
My family's crest. Each family has one.
Here is the fruit of my aunt's labors. Pretty cool, huh?
Tokyo Disney Sea
We went to Disneyland. The truth is, Disneyland was a major factor in our dicision to go to Japan. For one, it is incredibly convenient to go to Disneyland in Japan, particularly if you are staying in the Tokyo area. So you just have to go. We actually guaged whether we would go to Japan based on whether Disneyland was going to re-open after the earthquake and tsunami. They re-opened about a week before we went, and Disney Sea re-opened the first week we were there. It was perfect.
Also, making our experience awesome was the fact that there were very few people there the day we went. We didn't have to wait in line, and we were able to see all the shows we wanted to see.
If you're wondering what Disney Sea is, it is a Disney theme park based on the ocean. It is quite fun, and definitely unique to Japan. (We skipped Tokyo Disneyland for this trip and opted to do one day only at Disney Sea.)
We went with some of my family's lifelong friends, the Sawaguchis. Yoshiko-obasan (Aunt Yoshiko) was my mom's best friend in junior high school, and they have been very close ever since. She has three children, one of whom is two weeks older than I. We've been friends, literally, since birth. Her name is Nahomi. She has a daughter, Sora, who is six months younger than my Ellie. But Judd decided she was his girlfriend. He still talks about her all the time.
Here's Yoshiko-obasan trying to reign in my son.
Ellie, Judd, and Sora hanging out with Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket.
I have no idea who this parrot-looking thing is supposed to be, but here's the crew again.
All in all, an awesome day. Perfect weather, no lines, great friends, lots of fun!
Lost in Tokyo
The Big Event of the trip happened when we came back to our apartments after Disney Sea. Easily one of the worst nights of my life.
By the time we reached Ueno Station (major Tokyo train station), Ellie was asleep and Jake had to carry her. Luella was in her stroller, and Judd was walking alongside. Jake, being tired from carrying Ellie all the way from Disneyland, went ahead of us and rushed to the apartment. I told Maki to go with Jake, so he went ahead, too. That left Lorraine, Judd, Luella, and me. It took us some time to get to the apartment because we had to carry the stroller down several staircases just to get out of the train station.
When we were almost to the apartment, Jake met us on the street, and we were chatting as we continued on our way. Jake said, "Where's Maki?"
I thought he was joking. He wasn't. My gut sank to my feet. Almost immediately, Jake went off in search of my brother. We agreed that Lorraine would stay with the kids and then I would head out to search.
As I was walking back toward the train station, I realized that there was no way we were going to find my lost brother in the middle of metropolitan Tokyo. No way. Oh, and by the way, this was about 10:30-11:00 pm.
Before I left the apartment, Lorraine had showed me on a map where the police station was. As I approached the train station, I ran into Jake who had basically circumnavigated a whole section of the train station. No Maki. I told him that we needed to go to the police. We went to the police station.
There was almost no one in the police station, despite it being one of the major stations in the city. (Lowest crime rate in the world, in case you didn't know.) A receptionist took our report and got an APB out. He sent me back to the apartment to look around that area and also to stay put so he could find me if he needed to. He sent Jake out to keep looking.
Just as I was entering the apartment building, I got a phone call. The police had found Maki. I was to return to the police station so they could take us to where he was. (Where had he gone that we needed a ride to get him?)
It turned out that he was at a satellite police station, a 15-minute ride by car. One of the police officers thought it would have taken 45 minutes, at least, for Maki to have ended up where he did. They said that someone found him in the street, crying. Fortunately, that person had called the police, which happened to be right around the time the APB went out.
After filing reports, many thank-yous, etc., we finally arrived at our apartments after midnight. It was a bad night. But, lots of prayers answered. Thank you, Tokyo Metropolitan Police. Thank you, Aunt Rainey.
In the interest of space, time, and not boring you, the reader, to death, we shall continue this travelogue at a different time. Stay tuned!
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