James, Theda, Leizel, and I in front of the Bentenjima shrine
The fourth set of visitors, Leizel's brother and friend from high school, arrived on May 19th and stayed until June 8th. Leizel's brother, James, had planned to come last year but had been foiled by a blizzard. Theda, her best friend from high school, had actually worked in Suzuka for 2+ years as an English teacher and so already knew the area well and planned to do a bit of independent travel as well. It was good to show off Suzuka to James, who was very adventurous in his time here, and fun to relive the old times and places with Theda.
Leizel, or the two of us, took James a lot of places in his time here and sometimes Theda accompanies us. Among them:
- Ise Grand Shrine - Inner Shrine
- Ise - a bit of the town environs where I used to live
- Iino - the high school where Leizel works
- Suzuka - Pretty much everything...Bell city mall, Loc Town shopping center, Mandai Shoten (the ultimate used goods shop), rice fields, and a lot of independent exploration by James on foot and bicycle
- Nara - turtle lake, deer-feeding, pagoda at Kofukuji, giant Buddha at Todaiji
- Osaka - Ten'noji, Namba, Yodobashi Camera, Umeda Sky Building, Shinsaibashi, Fuse Segaworld
- Himeji - Himeji Castle
- Kyoto - Kyoto Station, temple at Kiyomizudera, gardens at Heian Shrine, golden pavilion at Kinkakuji
- Hamamatsu - Musical instrument museum, Lake Hamana, PalPal amusement park, Bentenjima
- Tokyo - Shinjuku, Square-Enix official gift shop, Harajuku, Ghibli Museum, Shibuya, Odaiba island via the Yurikamome train, Akihabara
James was especially immune to jet lag and proved to be, in my opinion, the hardiest of all our visitors yet. He had the bravery to go out and ride all over town on his own with no language skills, he wanted to see it on his own terms and he made it happen and I admire his independence. Theda, having lived in Japan before, was obviously extremely independent guest as well -- she went on a solo trip to Shikoku for one of her two weeks here.
Since James stayed in Suzuka for 3 weeks he really got to spend more quality time with our hometown than my other guests. I think he got to know the sights and sounds of Suzuka very well and we're happy he got to experience countryside Japan as much as he did.