2011 Trip Story
Mendocino to Miasa-Omachi June 27-July 13, 2011
Change is good for a trip to Japan
The preparations for this years trip started out like any other Student Exchange trip to Japan. But then, March 11 struck in three separate ways. Nothing was quite the same after that until we reached Narita Airport.
With an intrepid group of 13, including four artists, we were met by our good friends Tokio Oda, Hiromi Kitahara and Yasue Yokokawa at Narita. We spent one night in Tokyo where our two adventurous, traveling Mendocino Students, Jin Jackson and Maddie Crowningshield were able to have their picture taken at the statue of Hachiko the faithful dog at Shibuya Eki.
From that point on the entire trip was different from most all previous trips. We traveled to Miasa-Omachi first, instead of ending the trip there. Since there were so few of us, the artists and the students traveled together until we separated after two nights in Takayama a week after arriving in Japan.
While we were in Miasa-Omachi the artists and students followed separate agendas except for three special events: the tremendous Artists Welcoming Dinner at the Wachigai Restaurant hosted by owner Watanabe-san, the 4th Annual Art Exchange Artists Reception Party at the Asagura Art and Cultural Center, which our good friend and 2001 student group alumnus, Chelsea Robinson attended from her small town of Tsubata on the Sea of Japan, and also the Artists Farewell Dinner at the Traditional Kizaki House.
Our group this year was no different than previous years in their congeniality, thoughtfulness, and caring for the other members in the group, except there were far fewer participants than any trip before. I wish it were not that way but everyone must do what they feel is best.
We also added a couple of different destinations this tour, and altered previous stops. We visited Takayama for the first time. It is a small city on the west side of the Japan Alps. Everyone seemed to enjoy our two night stay and feel it would be a good place to return.
This is the first time we traveled as far south as Nagasaki on the island of Kyushu. No trip before had ever been off the main island of Honshu. It was “mushiatsui,” hot & humid in Nagasaki and I am not sure we will visit the city again if we return to Kyushu but possibly head to the east of the island to the peninsula and the onsens.
I have to say the Nagasaki Peace Park was worth touring. It was very different from the Hiroshima Peace Park. The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum has an infinity pool with 72,000 lights shining up through the water to symbolize the lives lost to the atomic bomb. Also the anti-war section was very thought provoking.
We changed our stay in Hiroshima to a different, smaller Youth Hostel since there were only eight of us, and we scheduled an entire day on Miyajima where we climbed to the top of the island to partake of the great view.
Except for a couple of mishaps; temporarily losing my JR Rail Pass in Kyoto and Dan forgetting his Passport at the Hiroshima YH, the trip was smooth sailing. I almost feel spoiled by the ease and comfort of traveling with a small group. I think I may fondly reflect back to this tour during future trips with the usual 40 participants trailing through the Tokyo subway station.
I do want to thank Marci for her invaluable experience, wisdom and ability to adapt to my every flight of fancy. Without her the trip would not be the same. The same holds true for Debbie and Travis, each contributing in their own manner to make the trip the best possible.
Our chaperons this trip were superb. Hats off to Jim Jackson and Dan Dickson for there comedic relief in times of uncertainty.
It was great to have retiring Mendocino K8 Principal, Bronwyn Rhoades on the trip to represent the Mendocino end of the Sister School relationship with Miasa School.
The four artists, Debra Lennox, Carolyn Zeitler, Miriam Davis & Bob Rhoades added a spice that was never present on previous trips and I savored their input tremendously.
Thank you all for a great time!
I lived in our Sister City of Miasa-Omachi from July 2011 to May of 2012 when I returned to Mendocino with the Artists group, shortly before the Student Group arrived in mid May, 2012. You can read about my activities in Miasa-Omachi in my Blog "A Mendonesian's year in Miasa, Japan" at: http://amendonesianinmiasa.wordpress.com/
As of August 6, 2013 I started living in Xiamen, Fujian, China. I arrived in China on July 15, 2013 after co-leading the MSCA Student/Artist groups for two weeks in Japan. I traveled around China for almost two months before arriving in Xiamen. You can read about my adventures in China in my Blog "Traveling Asia with the ebb and flow of Causality" at: http://mendoasia.wordpress.com/
Mike L. Evans