Family Reunion家族の集まりの記念写真

2008.03.30: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

Oya-Koukou (filial piety)

The main purpose of our trip back to Seattle was to spend time with the family. Here we are with my parents and youngest brother and his wife and kids. (My middle brother is in Hawaii and couldn't be here.) I promised my parents when we decided to move to Japan to start helping out at Kamesei Ryokan that I would come back once a year with the kids to see them. I feel guilty for leaving the inn for a week, but this was part of the deal.

What's a Torii doing in Granite Falls?なぜアメリカに鳥居?

2008.03.29: 日米関係Culture Shock

Shinto Shrine in Granite Falls

From when I was a little kid growing up in Seattle, my parents had a cabin outside of Granite Falls. We would drive up there practically every weekend in the summer, and every time we would pass this interesting arch. I had no idea what it was, but then when I got into college and first visited Japan, I saw something similar at Shinto Shrines. I finally put 2 and 2 together, and realized there had been a shrine in Granite Falls, the Tsubaki Grand Shrine -- the first shinto shrine in North America. Check it out at The priest, Rev. Barrish, does an impressive "o-harae" ceremony.

亀清旅館のHPはこちらClick here for Kamesei Ryokan website.

Orcas Island Pottery, featured at Kameseiオルカスアイランド陶芸は亀清にも!

2008.03.28: 日米関係Culture Shock

Mari and Orcas Island Pottery

If you take a bath at Kamesei, you will likely see a beautifully sculpted turtle above the onsen water spout. If you've wondered where he came from, this is it: Orcas Island Pottery. ( Mari and I visited there today, during our vacation from our vacation to Orcas Island. The place is a magical combination of Pacific Northwest island setting and gorgeous pottery. Many of the pottery makers use Japanese-inspired "Raku" style.

Click here for Kamesei Ryokan website

Obasute - inspired?

Their new tree house -- the coolest you'll ever see!

"Jimmy Hen-chan", Star in Japan, From Seattle日本でも大人気ジミーヘンちゃんがシアトル人!

2008.03.27: 日米関係Culture Shock

Jimmy, Jammin' in the Seattle Rain

Jimmy Hendrix, or "Jimmy Hen-chan" as he is referred to in Japan, happens to be really famous in Japan. He also happened to have come from my home town, Seattle. There is this statue of him on Broadway, so you can go and say "hi" to Jimmy if you visit. One of our guests recently was a big fan, so I promised I would take a picture and post it.

Click here for Kameesi Ryokan website.亀清旅館のHPはこちら

Japanese Hero Invasion

2008.03.26: 日米関係Culture Shock

Power Rangers and Power Kenny

Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh are as popular in the States as in Japan, so we weren't surprised to see them in the toy aisle in Seattle. But what's up with all the Power Ranger action figures? Our son Kenny wanted to get Geki-Red. Can't we get as much Ranger stuff as we could possibly want when we get back to Japan? 🙂

Hanami in the US better than in Japan?花見はアメリカの勝ち!

2008.03.25: 日米関係Culture Shock

Look -- no blue plastic sheets

This is where I studied Japanese -- the University of Washington. I took my family there today and, perfect timing, the cherry blossoms in the Quad were in full bloom. The classical buildings, the rich green lawn, the quaint brick pathways all make for a beautiful setting for the sakura trees, which were imported from Japan. There are probably settings in Japan as beautiful, but Hanami (flower viewing) is so much nicer here. In Japan, people put out hideous blue plastic sheets and hold loud drunken parties complete with obnoxious karaoke. It's called "hana yori dango" (more the party than the blossoms). Here you can actually enjoy the blossoms!

Japanese influence on American Quilting

2008.03.24: 日米関係Culture Shock

Mom showing off her Japanese quilt

(First Report From My Trip Home to Seattle)
Patchwork quilting is popular in Japan as a way for people to create something original. Here in the original home of creating, America, quilts using Japanese kimono fabric and other traditional Japanese materials is gaining in popularity. My mother is an avid quilter, and enjoys collecting Japanese fabric and making quilts such as this one, 'Maru'. We have a couple of my Mom's wall hangings at Kamesei Ryokan, including one Hawaiian style quilt of some turtles (Kamesei's 'kame') hanging in front of the baths.
Click here for Kamesei Ryokan website亀清旅館のHPはこちら

Going to America里帰り

2008.03.23: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

9 hour flight -- how many movies is that?

When I made the decision to move to Nagano to help out here at Kamesei Ryokan, I promised my parents I would go home to Seattle once a year to see them. Today, my wife and kids and I are flying out for this year's trip. I am especially looking forward to showing them are little daughter Misaki walking.
Once in Seattle, I plan on continuing this blog, commenting on what kinds of cross-cultural dynamics I find. Stay tuned!
Click here for Kamesei Ryokan website.亀清旅館のHPはこちら

Debito Talk

2008.03.22: 日米関係Culture Shock

Debito-san in the 'zone'

Kamesei Ryokan was proud to host a series of talks by Debito Arudo. This morning's was sponsored by the Chikuma Int'l Cultural Exchange Assoc. Approximately 20 people attended and heard about how Japan's population is becoming more international, and some of the dynamics that are resulting. On one hand, foreigners are increasingly contributing to Japan's society and economy, bringing desired effects to offset Japan's aging and shrinking population. On the other hand, foreigners are often villified in society.
In my own personal case, on one hand I am often complimented by people in town for working so hard to carry on the ryokan tradition here at Kamesei and my efforts to 'enliven' the town. On the other hand, there was a time I was refused an apartment here in Nagano simply because I was a foreigner. Of course similar prejudice happens in all countries, but here in Japan there are no laws against it. Yes, illegalizing discrimination doesn't make it go away, but that's of little comfort to someone who has been refused a basic human right like shelter.
After the talk, someone from Chikuma City Hall inquired about getting Debito-san back to give a talk to the city employees. I'm happy Kamesei was able to play a role in producing such positive results!
千曲国際交流協会の提供で、亀清旅館のロビーにArudo Debitoさんの講演が行いました。主の内容は日本の人口減少・高齢化問題に対して、外国人の増加が重要なのに、外国人は沢山の壁に当っている。自分の場合、亀清の若旦那として戸倉上山田温泉の仲間として受け入れて頂いているので色んな面で「町興し」に参加しています。しかし、以前は私が長野でアパートを借りるのに断れた事がある。もちろん、全世界に外国人差別があるけど日本の場合はそれに対する法律が無い。法律を作っても差別は消えないけれども、「衣食住」の「住」も断る事を許す事は?!?!

Easter Egg Festival III

2008.03.22: 温泉タウン戸倉上山田 Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada

Happy Easter Egg Hunters

Our city's Third Annual Easter Egg Festival was held today at the park along the Chikuma River in front of our onsen town, Togura-Kamiyamada. Despite Easter being early this year and running up against preschool graduations, we had 120 people turn out. There were lots of smiling children there, so it was a success in my book.
On a personal note, I was limited in how much I could participate this year, but thanks to all of the other volunteers, the event went relatively well. I proposed the event to the Chikuma Int'l Cultural Exchange Assoc. 3 years ago, and have been the Event Chairperson for all 3 years since then. However, all events need to be larger than any one individual to succeed. And this year, the other volunteers really stepped up to make it happen.

The Hunt is on!ハント

Egg Tossゲーム

Break Eggゲーム

Spoon Relayゲーム

Egg Dyingアート