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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week 51 January 20 - 26, 2014

It has been a cold week.  On Monday we were in Kumamoto for a routine doctor's appointment.  We also tried to take the tests for a Japanese driver's test.  However, our 5 year driving record that we brought from California DMV were not accepted as proof of having been in America for 3 months before coming to Japan.  We had renewed our driver's licences just before coming to prevent them from expiring while away.  We decided to change our residency from Kumamoto to avoid having to travel back and forth for future testing.  This is done at the city hall, so we got a view of Kumamoto Castle one more time.

How sad, now we are up against a short time line to get this done.  In Fukuoka we had to also go to the city hall to get our Fukuoka residency.  As per normal bureaucracy, it will take several day to get the papers we need to even try to take the drivers test.

On Tuesday morning we had our third day of snow flurries, that melted upon hitting the ground.  They lasted all day long, which made us wonder if we might get a little accumulation.

Sure enough while biking to the Mission Home on Wednesday we saw some.

I biked over the rather steep hill behind our apartment and found these, Luetta was on a more flat route for a short while and didn't see much.  I think these areas were in more protected areas.

Thursday we were alone in the Mission Office part of the day, so here is a tour around.  Here is a view of Sister Koberstein's desk from the receiving area.

And from the office elders desks.

This is the Mission Presidents Office, with the board that is used to plan transfers.  It is covered during the planning process to keep unauthorized eyes from seeing the changes coming.  It is uncovered after the transfer is announced.

This board is in the hall coming into the office and it is never covered, and is updated after transfers.

And here the office of the Japan Fukuoka Mission Financial Secretary, me for now.

During lunch time today, we took a walk in the Fukuoka Botanical Gardens behind the temple.  They are beautiful and provide a wonderful background for the temple.

Here is a cute munchkin, near an interesting water fountain arranged like a water fall.  I don't know that the green figure is suppose to be.

and another view of the fountain.

One of the garden areas had this gate made of flower pots, can you see them?

Behind Luetta is the observation tower offering great views of Fukuoka.

This is in the directions of the Zoo.

Towards the Fukuoka Bay.

City as far as you can see when looking towards Costco.

We continue on to the specialized areas which are in buildings, as you can expect there was not a lot blooming in the outside areas except here.

We are now in the buildings:

Even a desert area, not as good as Arizona, however.

In our advanced English class we have been reading Little House in the Big Woods.  It has been a good experience for learning some new words and Early American culture.  Recently we covered a part where it talked about using a butter churn.  Luetta has actually used one and a member of our class who is also a church member said she had one in her shop.  She has a shop where she sells English (Great Britain) antiques including a legitimate butter churn.   We decided to take a short bike ride to her shop on Friday, here it is.  Here shop is called the Sheraton House, which is the bottom right katagana, シェテトン.  The word above house is katagana for antique, アンテイーケ.

And here is the butter churn.  Has anyone else made butter with a churn?

On our preparation day, we went our Japanese class and we wanted to take the ferry across the bay to see the ocean, but it was quite rainy, so we substituted going to the Fukuoka City Museum.

There was a special display of original old Renaissance impressionistic painting on loan from museums and art galleries around the world.  It was called: "Impressionists at the Waterside - Depicting Urban Resorts: Paris, the Seine and Normandy"  the exhibition features some 80 impressionist paintings including renowned works such as Dance at Bougival by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and The Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet (1840-1926). The exhibition includes paintings on loan from some 40 museums in 8 countries including the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA; the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France; and the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, Germany.  It was very interesting, but no photos allowed, but here is a press photo when it was in Tokyo.  I really enjoyed one by Alfred Sisley, it has an amazing 3D effect.
Dance at Bougival

We did take this photo in the lobby.  I believe this is a model of a festival held in Fukuoka only, called Yamakasa.  Yamakasa (山笠?), held for two weeks each July,[18] is Fukuoka's oldest festival with a history of over 700 years. The festival dates back to 1241 when a priest called Shioichu Kokushi saved Hakata from a terrible plague by being carried around the city on a movable shrine and throwing water.[19][20]Teams of men (no women, except small girls, are allowed), representing different districts in the city, commemorate the priest's route by racing against the clock around a set course carrying on their shoulders floats weighing several thousand pounds. Participants all wear shimekomi (called fundoshi in other parts of Japan), which are traditional loincloths. Each day of the two-week festival period is marked by special events and practice runs, culminating in the official race that takes place the last morning before dawn. Tens of thousands line the streets to cheer on the teams. During the festival period, men can be seen walking around many parts of Fukuoka in long happi coats bearing the distinctive mark of their team affiliation and traditional geta sandals. The costumes are worn with pride and are considered appropriate wear for even formal occasions, such as weddings and cocktail parties, during the festival period.

On Sunday a member of my Sunday School class brought in her genealogy, that I was interested in:

Yest those dates are 784 - 842 A.D.  Here ancestry goes back to the shogun era.

She invited us to hear a friends granddaughter at the Fukuoka Symphony hall in the ACROS (Asia CrossRoad Over the Sea) building in downtown Tenjin.  The music by the young people performing, grade school age and up was spectacular on a grand piano.  Here is the building.  It is the ultimate in green architecture serving as a building and park at the same time.

And here is the young lady we came to listen to in the Symphony Hall, she performed Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2.  For this competition event, mostly family attends.

Here is an excerpt, the audio quality is bad on the recording.  But, the acoustics in this hall made it sound like we were right by the piano.

Al in all a fantastic week.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week 50 January 13 - 19, 2014

Well we just completed week 50, which is exactly 1/2 of our 100 week mission (23 months).  That is quite a mile stone, and we have had such a great experience between Kumamoto and Fukuoka Mission Office service.  We love it so much, with many challenges and rewards.

This week started off with a bang, of experiencing making mochi, a new years tradition in Japan.  Here are some photos.

Wiki-How, says, "Mochi is a type of Japanese rice cake. Very chewy and sweet, it takes some effort to make, but it is worth the effort and indeed, making mochi is both an art form and a tradition. It is often referred to as "o-mochi", an honorific added to show that this is considered a sacred food.[1] Mochi is an indispensable part of New Year celebrations in Japan."

While making o-mochi, an older member of the church pointed out to us some references in the Old Testament where, in the Japanese translation of the bible, rice cake, is rendered as mochi.

Numbers 11:7,8
And the amanna was as bcoriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.
 And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
The member felt it was related, but it may be just a translation issue.
The first thing you do is cook a special Glutinous Sweet Rice Flour.  It is cooked on a steam trays, as the bottom one is done a new tray is put on top and they all move down.

The cooked bottom tray is dumped into the mortar, this is a stone mortar (they say it works better since it is harder that a wooden mortar).  The mortar is the same idea as in Numbers.

Then you use the mallets to mash the rice into a pound-able mass, other wise it might just bounce out of the mortar when it is pounded.

Now you pound the living daylight out of it.  It's best if two people do it, to share the work, but careful coordination is required between the pounders and the person folding the rice over to keep the process uniform.

When it is done you can remove it in a mass or in small portions, as here.

The final step is to form it into forms, plain round ball with or without rolling in powdered soy flour and sugar, to wraping it around a sweet bean paste.

Many people wonder about the many similarities of Japanese Shinto Buddhism and many ancient Israelite traditions, of which this is one.  Shinto Buddhism, is unique to Japan and distinct from other forms of Buddhism.
After this fun experience two Elders were interested in going to a recycled goods event (like a flee market but much better) in the huge Fukuoka Dome.  We were happy to take them, but when we arrived it had just closed, so we walked around the Dome.  They has an interesting way of honoring those who have performed there by having their hand in hand-shake position molded in bronze and available to shake.  I shook the hand, so to speak, of Paul McCartney, and Micheal Jackson.

I is quite typical when you take pictures of people in Japan, for them to put their hands into the "V" sign, which is shown here in statue.

Thursday we took a run to Costco.  We need to go to Kumamoto for routine doctor's visits and to take our Japanese Driver's Licence tests.  At Costco we wanted to get some American non perishables to stock up the Kumamoto Apartment.  We will be moving back shortly after the new office couple arrives on February 8th.  We did a little shopping around some of the american style stores, including the Gap, here is a Christmas decoration still up.

On Friday we took a midday stroll around the Fukuoka Zoo, located right by the Mission Home.  It was a good break from counting beans, as they say.  The penguins were cool.

This is a Japanese Black Bear.

Giraffe's are always cool.

But their barns are quite tall.

The chimps are disturbed at the poor quality of one human that had to observe today, me.

However I had a good conversation with a friendly orangutan.

I think she liked my home teaching lesson about making new years resolutions, while enjoying a wonderful greens salad and tanning.
Luetta even took a ride on an elephant.

Hope you all enjoy a joyous and prosperous new year also.

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I have worked 30 years at Del Monte Foods in Walnut Creek CA, 5 years at Ralston Purina in San Diego CA, 7 years at Carnation in Oconomowoc WI