August 5th, 2009 Posted in Daily Living, Gifu-ken | No Comments »

Just a few weeks before we came to Japan we bought the last Harry Potter book. Despite our eagerness, we didn’t open the book. We wanted to save it for Japan, to give us something to look forward to.

Our first few nights in Gifu, not knowing what else to do, we sat in our empty tatami rooms. Relaxing beneath the air conditioning, getting a break from the unrelenting heat, Aaron feverishly reading chapter upon chapter of Harry Potter aloud while I sat, quietly, knitting and listening.

Now, two years later, so much has changed yet so much has stayed the same.

On our last night in Gifu we sat in our empty tatami rooms, enjoying the artificial cold, and reading aloud feverishly, trying our best to finish The Da Vinci Code before returning it to the library today. I sat, quietly, knitting and listening.

Somehow, this seemed the perfect end to our time here in Gifu. The perfect way to spend our last night here. A reminder that even though so much has changed for us and within us, there is so much that is also still the same.

Despite the fact that there is so much left to do today before we leave the apartment for the last time, I feel calm. I feel calm knowing that we came, nervous and scared, and we overcame those fears and those hesitations as we set out on the greatest adventure of our lives. I am sad to say goodbye to all that we have known, all that our son has known, not knowing when or how we will be back. But we know that we will be back, someday somehow, that’s for sure.

Tanigumi Temple

July 3rd, 2009 Posted in Daily Living, Gifu-ken | No Comments »

Over the past two years we have really mined out most of the local, easy-to-do day trips in the area. So, imagine our pleasant surprise when a group of friends took us out to this temple one day last weekend.

Not more than an hour from our home it was a sanctuary. In the mountains, surrounded by all the green that I so often find myself missing here in the concrete-wonderland that is Gifu city. With only a month left here in Japan, I am sad that we only discovered it just now, so thankful that we did discover it, and wondering how many other things are just around the corner that we may never know.

Obligatory Cardboard Cutout Photo

Temple Gate

Prayers for Healing

Behind the temple there was an area where you would get a little sheet of paper, dip it into water and apply it to the part of the statue where you needed healing.

Pilgrimage Remnants

Tanigumi temple is the last temple on a pilgrimage route and at the end people leave behind their pilgrimage attire and books.

See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil

Covered in Rocks

We have no idea why the tanigumis at this temple were covered in rocks, but we couldn’t help but add some more to the stack.


April 13th, 2009 Posted in Gifu-ken | No Comments »

On Saturday we went to Gifu Park to spend a day wandering about, enjoying the beautiful weather (about 80 degrees) and taking photos outside with Ewan. After our day out we enjoyed a really nice dinner at the Natural Cafe and had a nice evening walk. As we walked to our bus stop we made a really nice discovery, a street lined with beautiful lit-up weeping cherry blossom trees.

To get the picture above took a bit of doing since Aaron and my mom had to stand in the middle of the street to do it. They would run out there, with their cameras ready, and try to take the photo before a car came and interrupted them. I stood on the sidewalk watching for traffic and yelling out “Car!” whenever one was coming and they would quickly run to the side of the street before repeating the whole process again. But, eventually they did get a few of the shots they wanted and we were able to walk down the street.

The whole thing was just so peacefully and refreshing. The street was quiet, the blossoms were still, and the night air was warm. Aaron and I had yet to see a night light-up of the cherry blossoms and this, being our last blossom experience in Japan, was sort of our last chance. It was so lucky for us to just happen upon this street and this chance to catch a glimpse, all while killing about 20 minutes before the next bus was scheduled to come.

In some ways the cherry blossoms, from a distance, almost looked like the branches were covered with snow. It was just beautiful and now that most of the blossoms have fallen, I am sad to see them go. I know this is the last time, for a long time, that we will be in Japan for the cherry blossom season and as we start having more “lasts” instead of “firsts” my heart and my mind ache just a little bit. I know that these last few months will pass all to quickly and I will be sad to say goodbye to Japan, the place where our son was born and the place where we have had so many good times.

Snow Day

January 4th, 2009 Posted in Gifu-ken | No Comments »

Just like Fall, when you live here in Gifu city, you also have to go on a small day-trip to find winter. Well, more accurately, to find snow.

To me, winter and snow are still inseparable concepts. Last year I enjoyed the absence of snow and the mild winter, this year I find myself really missing the peace and stillness of a snow storm. The way it forces everyone to stop and slow down, it changes plans, and reminds us that we do not have ultimate control. Perhaps being away from the inconveniences of snow has made it easier to seem so idyllic. Perhaps when snow is part of my reality again, shoveling and driving through it, my perception will change. But for now I long for it and I am jealous of those of you that get to experience the magic of snow for more than one day this winter.

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Ringing in the New Year

January 1st, 2009 Posted in Daily Living, Gifu-ken | 1 Comment »

Last year we abandoned Japan during the largest holiday of the year, New Years, in search of a more tropical place to spend our holidays. This year we decided to stay put to take part in the festivities of a traditional Japanese New Year. I say that we decided to stay put, but actually this was largely decided for us because of the little person happily growing inside of me making long travels to exotic places a non-option. Even though I would have loved to spend the holiday in a slightly warmer place, I am so glad that we ended up spending New Years the way we did and I think that this year will easily remain in my memory as one of my favorite New Years for many years to come.

The best part of the New Year was visiting a small temple with a very dear Japanese friend of ours, Tanaka. He is friends with the monk that cares for the temple, and thought it would be a good place for us to experience a traditional Japanese New Year.

After spending the night at Tanaka’s house eating traditional foods and watching the NHK New Years broadcast (very similar to the one in New York, although this one ends a bit before the turn of the clock to give families the chance to ring in the New Year together and make their way to a local temple), we got in the car to drive to a small temple about 15 minutes from his house.

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Mino Akari Matsuri

October 17th, 2008 Posted in Gifu-ken | No Comments »

Well, as I mentioned in the last post, we got the chance to go back to the Mino Lantern Festival again this year. Luckily, it lived up to all the expectations I had for it. It was definitely one of my favorite festivals last year, and it will be tough to beat this year as well.

The thing about this festival that is just amazing is the atmosphere. Old-fashioned Japanese streets are dimmed and the light from the lanterns illuminates the path and beckons onlookers forward. Each lantern provides an interesting new surprise and perspective. The spectators, even the littlest ones, are overcome by a sort of quiet, a peace, as they stroll down the streets admiring the paper works of art. It is so serene, despite the crowds, that I can scarcely recall any similar experiences in my life.

Even though I can talk about it and describe it in writing, it doesn’t do it justice. So, I will let you see some of the lanterns for yourself. Here is just a smattering of my favorites, we will post a complete set on Flickr hopefully this weekend.

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Important Parts

October 15th, 2008 Posted in Gifu-ken | 1 Comment »

This past weekend we had the great pleasure of hosting one of my college roomates, Rachel, here in Japan. Having her was splendid in so many ways that it is hard to describe. First of all, it was so great to see her for 5 days after so many years of keeping in touch via email and the occasional telephone call. It is always interesting to me how there are some of those relationships in life that no matter how long they have been dormant, they manage to pick right back up exactly when you need them. There are some of those same kinds of people in everyones life, and she is definitely one in mine. It was good to reconnect.

Second, it was good to have someone fresh in Japan with us. We have been a little lazy and quiet lately. The pregnancy, the work, the new people, the responsibilities, have all kind of gotten in the way of what was our typical busy fun-filled schedule. It was so nice to have someone here with us to give us that spark again. We managed to fill a weekend with awesome, amazing Japan stuff, and now, finally, we have something to talk about. Not to mention, it left me loving Japan again.

Thanks a bunch Rachel!

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July 1st, 2008 Posted in Gifu-ken | 2 Comments »

Danielle as Cormorant Master

Ukai is the age old tradition of using cormorant birds to fish for aiu (sweet fish). Cormorant fishing has been going on in Gifu prefecture for more than 1300 years and last weekend we had the opportunity to go on a viewing boat to see what it is all about.

Aaron on the Boat

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Knee High

June 19th, 2008 Posted in Daily Living, Gifu-ken | 6 Comments »


Growing up I always remember hearing the phrase, “knee high by the fourth of July,” when we were talking about corn. Well, they must have a different phrase here because it is only the middle of June and the corn is almost ready to harvest.

Just thought you all might be interested . . .

Aaron and Corn

Kind of funny to have Aaron posing with the corn. We all know how much he likes the stuff. . .

Standing Tall

Now, corn that high means one thing. We are in the throes of summer. It is hot, it is humid and we are already getting used to wearing only our “house clothes” come evening. It is a change from the beautiful spring that we had and certainly not a welcome one.


June 4th, 2008 Posted in Daily Living, Gifu-ken | No Comments »

A few months ago Aaron was offered the position of RPA, I must admit that at the time I was a bit jealous. It is a cool position, giving him the opportunity to interact with the JET’s in our region and be involved in the professional development conferences at the prefectural level. It gave him a chance to be a little more involved in this upcoming year as a second year JET, and I felt a bit left out.

That’s where AJET comes in. AJET is an organization that was founded at the same time as the JET Program. The goal of AJET is to enhance each persons JET experience by organizing social and cultural events.

This year we have attended most of the AJET events that were hosted (enkais, Doburoku festival, Ski Weekend, Camp Horado, Hanabi, and a few others). For the most part, the events have been successful, fun, and a great way to bond with other JET’s and experience bits and pieces of Japan that we would have missed otherwise.

So, a few weeks ago, when they put out the call asking for new people to join AJET and replace those that are leaving, I thought I would give it a go.

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