Japanese Visitors

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a Japanese festival put on by Japanese high school students from Isesaki, Japan (One of Springfield's sister cities). I enjoyed a Japanese tea ceremony, played Japanese games, had my name written in Japanese calligraphy, watched dances and fashion shows.
Japanese Musicians playing the Star Spangled Banner
The following day I hosted four of these teenagers for the day. We kicked things off by heading the the Farmer's Market where we picked up ingredients for lunch then I took them to the Japanese Stroll garden at the botanical garden. We had a funny misunderstanding at the garden when I pointed to a stone temple decoration in the Zen garden and called it pretty. They adamantly told me "No, not pretty". So I asked what it was. They discussed among themselves then consulted a dictionary to come up with the word "antique"! Yes, it was an antique! They also learned the new word "turtles" as we saw over ten turtles sunning themselves in the koi pond.
Kazuki, Misuzu, Maaya and Yusuke in the Japanese Stroll Garden
After the garden and a quick drive by an "antique" car show we went home where Annie was anxious to say hello to our Japanese visitors. After barking her greetings to all of them she retreated to our room with a  rawhide chew. Astute readers know that out-of-town visitors are treated to Elles's, so after lunch off we walked to our favorite neighborhood Patisserie. They enjoyed the various ice-cream flavors - lavendar, white-chocolate lemon, spicy chocolate and salted caramel. They were each kind enough to offer me a small bite of their flavors - salted caramel was my favorite :-)
Students enjoying Elle's ice-cream
We went to Midtown to meet up with the Patton-Allans and strolled down to Commercial Street to poke around in the "antique" stores. As an added bonus we walked across the longest pedestrian footbridge in the US and a train went rolling by as we were above the railroad tracks.
Ray and Avery crossing the Jefferson Footbridge
Then we went downtown and did more shopping - the wanted to get and American magazine, American candy and gifts for their families back home. We enjoyed listening to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams on repeat on my mix CD from Becky. They taught me several Japanese phrases and I was able to say "aragato" for the gifts (chopsticks, oriental fans, a toy for my backpack, rice and towels) and then "sayanora".
Good-bye Friends!
As I was wrapping up this blogpost the mailman dropped by with thank you letters! This one was my favorite:
Thank you letter from Yusuke


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