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Friday, December 24, 2010

Lunch in Japan!

Yesterday morning... or was that technically the day before?? ...Anyway, Aaron and I left Korea, with passports in hand, on a fancy jet to Japan!

We had an 8 hour layover in Japan, so we decided to take advantage of the time and see what we could!  We had our eyes set on a darling little historic town called Narita City, where cobblestone streets are lined with old tea shops, handmade Japanese toys stores, charming restaurants, and traditonal markets... oh, and random bundles of plastic flowers laying on the sidewalk!  hhhmmm?

Welcome to NARITA, Japan!

These old men were sitting outside this restaurant sliding skinned fish onto wooden skewers! 

That's one lucky dog to live within historic Narita City!

This was the face I got when I asked Aaron to sit next to the dog for the picture!  It was a sweet little schmooch of a dog!

This store was filled with jars of wacky stuff - dried eel, seahorses, jinseng, turtles, old (real) stuffed animals... uuuggghhh!

I'm a huge fan of traditional Japanese architecture and couldn't get enough of this street! 

We walked about a kilometer, from the train station, through Narita, until we reached Naritasan Shinshoji temple grounds, which was originally built in 940AD.

This is actually the front gate entrance and it's worth noting that it's much more calm than Korean temples!  No freaky statues of monsters hide within the gate!

Who doesn't love a wishing pond?!  I threw my 100 won coin, in hopes of it  landing on the turtle statue in the middle of the pond, but failed horribly.  It didn't even touch it!

On the bridge over the wishing pond!

Patrons had placed these plaques along a wall near the main temple hall... I'm not sure what they signify, but they were beautiful none the less.

 This is the inside fo the temple hall above... taken right before I noticed the "no photos inside" sign!

Many Japanese temples pride themselves in their stunning gardens!  This temple was no acception!   Aaron and I took the leasurely 30 minute walk down the path, through the gardens... past the waterfall...

...around the lake...

along the waterline...

...and of course, on the stone bridge, where we stopped for a photo opp!  Our cameras work overtime when the two of us travel!  Luckily though, we've learned how to balance our mass photography with enjoying the moment, and are always happy we have so many pictures to help us remember everything!

When the timer takes 5 pictures in a row, these are the types of pictures that end up being in the last couple!  They're usually some of my favorites!

After our walk through the temple gardens, we headed back through the downtown area of Narita in search of a dinner spot for our Japanese date night!  I snapped this picture of a young man holding hands with his grandmother as they walked along together!  I love the respect for elderly that the Asian community has!

We asked a local store owner where we could find the "best noodles in town!"  He immediately left his shop and motioned for us to follow him to this restaurant down the road!  Great, we thought!  This is gonna be delicious! Well, come to find out, the store owner was the father of the girl who owned the restauarnt!  We could have said we wanted to know where the best steak restaurant was and he probably would have taken us here!!  

Luckily, the food was delicious!

 So, now we can check "dinner date in Japan" off the bucket list!!  ***

It started to get late, so we began our trek back to the train station, but not before doing some last minute shopping!  I bought some adorable Japanese hand made candies for my friend Lynzi's son Greyson, and a darling little japanese doll of sorts for a Christmas tree ornament for my tree!

We left Japan around 7:30pm, and landed in Dallas Texas at 1:30pm... you do the math!!  It was a lllloooooonnnngggg flight!  11 hours to be exact!  And it didn't even end there!  We had a layover in Dallas and hopped on another plane to Charleston, S.C.  By this point we were getting creative with our plane games!  I took a go at drawing Aaron's face, which ended up looking more like a neandrothal (sp?) than anything!  Regardless, he said it was a great attempt!

Unfortunately, he couldn't even finish drawing me beacuse he was laughing so hard!  I know I have a big nose, but come on Aaron... REALLY?! 

Finally, around 10:00pm, our final plane landed and we were homefree in Charleston South Carolina!  Aaron's hister Ali, his dad Keith and his dad's wife Kaye all met us at the airport with big hugs!  We all loaded into the rented minivan and drove over to Aaron's storage unit, where we loaded everything into the van to drive up to his mom's place in Black Mountain, NC! 

3/4 of the stuff went to Goodwill, including these 2 deer heads which were given to him as a gift years ago!

Finally, it was time to relax and head to the hotel for the night!!  (Thank you Keith and Kaye for renting the lovely suite for us to all stay together in for the night!)  Before heading to sleep, Aaron and I went over to the local Huddle House for a little midnight snack where we were welcomed by our cheerful and christmas cosutmed server!!

After our tummies were full, we went back and met Ali, Kaye, and Keith for a little night cap of jin and tonic in the suite!   The 5 of us stayed up laughing and talking till 3am!  It was great!  To top of a wonderful day, Aaron's dad and Kaye bought us a disposable cell phone with a phone card so we could coordinate meeting times with all of Aaron's friends while we're here!  It was sooo thoughtful!

We're in the U.S., we're safe, and we're with wonderful people!  I couldn't have asked for more!

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