Nara Shinto Shrine visit

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Shuri Castle Gate

In the mad scramble of the last few days in Japan, this great group photo never made it to the blog. We’re at the gate to Shuri Castle, the palace for the Ryuku Kingdom. Destroyed during WWII, it has now been restored. I think everyone looks pretty good considering that it was really hot and humid (and we had walked 20 minutes from the monorail station).

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Manners

Now that we’re back from Japan, let’s follow up on some of the interesting sights and sites in Japan!

Manner posters abound in Japan, and they’re often very interesting. How often have you tried to find a place to sit on a bench (whether it’s on a subway, a park bench, etc.) and seen someone sitting with their knees spread wide? In this poster, the little bear (child in a bear costume?) says, “Why are your feet (spread) so wide? If you’d put them together, I could sit, too.”¬†

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Almost farewell to Japan

We said goodbye to Okinawa this morning and are staying at a hotel near Narita airport tonight. Tomorrow we’ll make a quick trip to the National Museum of History, which is near the airport, before departing for home late tomorrow afternoon.

Susan and Anne say farewell to Okinawa:

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Okinawa

We’ve had a busy few days here in Okinawa learning about the history, culture, and food! We capped off our stay with a banquet of traditional Okinawan food accompanied by a show of traditional dance. After we had eaten our fill (and then some) we posed with the dancers for a group photo.

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Miyajima

We arrived at the ferry to Miyajima in a downpour, but by the time we crossed over to the island (10 minute ferry ride) it had stopped raining, and soon the sun came out. We had a couple of extra local residents join us for this group photo!

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Hiroshima

Today we spent the better part of the day at the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Park. First we heard from A-bomb survivor Mr. Keijiro Matsushima, a retired English teacher who charmed us with his winning smile and storytelling skills. His message is an important one which everyone should hear!

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Students from all of the participants’ schools folded cranes to contribute to our 1000 cranes which we left at the Sadako monument in the Peace Park.

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And finally, we ended the day with okonomiyaki at okonomi-mura!

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Gion Matsuri Parade Day!

Rainy season has ended in Kyoto, and the weather was bright and sunny (and hot!) for The Gion Matsuri parade today.

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After the parade we visited Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) and Kiyomizu Temple, where we gathered for a group photo.

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Some of the group, including co-leader Greg Diehl, partook of the holy water at Kiyomizu. We’re not really sure what effect it’s supposed to have, but we figured that on a hot day, we’d settle for hydration!

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Yukata for (almost) all

Thanks to Seiko’s expert yukata ¬†skills, many of the study tour participants were able to enjoy Gion Matsuri in style tonight.

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Through the nose of the Buddha

At Todaiji in Nara, there’s a hole in one of the posts which, if I remember correctly, is the same size as one nostril on the Buddha there. (Obviously it’s a large Buddha!) If you crawl through it, you attain enlightenment or something. (I could be wrong about the details.) As these photos show, our own Matthew Sudnik was up for the challenge!

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