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My Trip to the Orient - Part 4

Editor’s Note: This series of articles is taken from a diary kept by Nikkei Canadian Alyssa Erin Woo, then ten years old, during her trip to Japan with her grandparents.

Part 3 >>

Sunday, July 3, 2005 – Exploring Hakone

This morning, we left Emiko-san’s place and took a train to Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita, Hakone.

I liked the Italian restaurant we went to for lunch. After, we took a two car tram that zigzagged up the mountains, next switched over to a cable car, then a gondola and then finally took a sea boat ride across Lake Ashi.  The ship was HUGE!  It was ancient looking and on the back there was a really cool seahorse (or “horse fish” as Ji-chan called it.)  It was really foggy out so it was too bad that we couldn’t see the famous Mt. Fuji. 

Way up high on cable car

Sea boat at Hakone

Afterwards, we went shopping and then took a bus back to the hotel.  We were in room #205.   Ba-chan and I took a nap but when we woke up around 9:00 and wanted supper, all the restaurants were closed!

Alyssa - “I’M HUNGRY!”

Ji-chan and I called Room Service for supper and ordered some roast beef croissant sandwiches but they didn’t taste very good.  We didn’t care for pickles so Ba-chan ate them for us but we enjoyed the Japanese potato chips that came with our meal. 

* * *

Monday, July 4, 2005 – Travelling to Hikone by Bullet Train

Today, we ate breakfast in the dining room.  I had a ham omelette but it tasted so different from the omelettes I had in Canada.  I think the omelettes in Canada taste better.

Then we took many trains and a bullet train to Hikone.  The bullet trains go by really fast like a jet plane. ZOOM!  It passed by right in front of our eyes.  I guess they don’t call them bullet trains for nothing!  On one of the bullet trains, Ji-chan ordered a boxed lunch and he learned that train food is even worse than airplane food!  We took a taxi to the Hikone Biwako Hotel.  We went to see Ji-chan’s Aunt Aiko Obasan and his cousins.  They took us out for dinner at a fancy restaurant in the best hotel in Hikone.  They were very nice to me and gave me lots of presents.

Zoom! Bullet train to Hikone

* * *

Tuesday, July 5, 2005 – Touring Around Hikone

Today, Ba-chan, Ji-chan and I went swimming in the pool at the hotel, but the water was really shallow.  We played boats, fishes and sharks.  We had a lot of fun because we were the only ones there.

After swimming, we went in the hot tubs and Ba-chan and I poured cold water on each other.  Ba-chan and I went into the sauna.  I don’t really like going in saunas because it’s hard to breathe in them so Ba-chan told me to stay inside for ten seconds to dry off.  I couldn’t wait to get out!  When we met Ji-chan, he said he was waiting for us for about half an hour!  I wonder if he didn’t spend very much time in the hot tubs or if Ba-chan and I had too much fun!

For breakfast we went to the Restaurant Café and had ham, boiled eggs, bread, salad and orange juice.  I was hungry and ate most of the meal.  Later, Ji-chan and I played cards while Ba-chan had a nap.

Jichan sure enjoyed this!

We ate lunch and then Hiroshi-san; Ji-chan’s cousin came to pick us up. He took us to my great, great, great Grandparents grave.  Next we went to where my great Ba-chan (Ji-chan’s mother) was born.  After, we went to the school where great Ba-chan used to teach.  We saw different neat and tidy classrooms and we met a group of grade 6 students returning from their outside gym period.  They were happy to take a photo together with me.  The school year starts in April and ends the following March.  They only have August for a summer holiday and they have to go to school on Saturdays, but only for half a day!

Ogawa's grave site

Next, we bought flowers to take to Shoichi-san’s grave (Aiko Obasan’s late husband.)  Aiko-san is Ji-chan’s aunt.  She is only two years older than Ji-chan’s sister, Mary, from Montreal.  Most Japanese families are Buddhists and one side of their living room wall is reserved for a family butsudan (shrine) which had been passed down by their forefathers.  Pictures of recent family members that had passed on are also displayed.  About four past generations of the Ogawa family tree is kept in a drawer.  It is their custom for guests to pay their respects as soon as they enter their home.  Ji-chan hasn’t been back to visit Japan since 1978, so they also took us to the family gravesites to pay our respects.

Aiko obasan's Haiku awards

The last stop was the Hikone Castle Museum.  We saw many similar things there like at the Tokyo National Museum.  Aiko Obasan writes Haiku and showed us many trophies and certificates that she has won.  She goes to a Haiku club twice a week.  I told her that we studied Haiku also at school sometimes in Sarnia so she is going to send me some of hers and Ba-chan is going to translate it for me.  Yukiko-san, her daughter, and Junko-san, Hiroshi-san’s wife was very nice to me and gave me lots of presents to take home.

Finally, we went to Aiko Obasan’s house for dinner but I fell asleep while everyone else ate.  I was lucky I fell asleep because they served kaiseki, which I don’t really care for.

Part 5 >>

**All photographs are courtesy of the author.

© 2010 Alyssa Erin Woo

Canadian identity trip