The breakfast this morning was extraordinary and again served beautifully. The main entre was a salmon crepe. The crepe was a square envelope and the salmon was the note card. The coffee is very good and the croissants are so very good. We get a dessert after each breakfast of intricately displayed fruit and herbs with a dab of ice cream. We eat on the top floor overlooking the city and the valley in the morning light.
This morning we went to Chichibunomiya (Prince Chichibu) Memorial Park, picturesque gardens with wild lilies, hydrangeas and tall thin cedars. We had a traditional tea ceremony with sweets depicting water, fire and air. The tea was thick and very green, and very good. We saw a bonsai trees, one of which was 150 years old and another was a 100 year old azalea tree. Rebecca and I got our picture taken with a samurai sword and we then took calligraphy lessons. We each had separate teacher, but the sensei quickly discovered Rebecca has a natural gift for this. I’m working real hard to do one character for “fish” while Rebecca-san is easily doing the three complex characters for “Gotemba.” Rebecca-san received a bamboo brush from her sensei.
We were taken to the National Chuo Youth Friendship Center to have an outdoor barbeque with the citizens of Gotemba. We saw Minami Junior High School students dance the Hokkaido fishing dance and Mikuriya Step no Kai square dance. Rebecca joined the group, I opted out to take pictures. We all joined in the Gotemba dance and the Tokyo dance. We left mid-afternoon for the Waraji Festival. Waraji are traditional straw sandals, and this weekend in Gotemba is a big festival at the Mt. Fuji Visitor’s Center to celebrate them. They have these two very large sandals with tethers and bamboo sliders in they hold races where two people pull the sandal while someone is riding on it. Our own mayor was pulled around the track to start the races. Our Beaverton delegation was presented to the people and we were given gifts. We then observed the Yosakoi Dance Festival which was very colorful and I took tons of pictures.
We squeezed in a quick visit to the Buddhist Peace Park before heading back to our hotel. The main temple is the shrine pictured on the background of this blog. As I was writing this the sun started to set and Mount Fuji came out of her hiding. What a sight to behold