Thursday, August 13, 2015
Departing our ryokan, our group had more sights to see prior to meeting our new families in Toyonaka. We awoke to pouring rain, but by the time we boarded our bus, drove through a nearly 10 mile-long tunnel through the mountains to Lake Ashi, the rain had stopped and provided us the mildest weather of the trip thus far.
Our first stop upon arriving at Lake Ashi, we walked around the Hakone Shrine. Torri Gate. Also at the site of the shrine are 300 year-old cedar trees and beautiful mossy grounds that Californians rarely experience. As with all shrines we’ve been to thus far, there’s a place to buy a fortune and if it’s not as desirable, you can tie the fortune to a tree to leave that “fortune” behind. Will purchased a fortune that went something like this, “blah, blah, blah, you will have no girlfriends.” Will immediately interrupted the translation right then and said, “Where do I tie this one off!?”
From there, we made our way down to the lake and boarded a pirate-ship-like boat for a brief cruise to the other side of the lake. The kids seemed to enjoy the ride almost as much as the oreo cookies they realized were sold at the snack bar aboard the ship.
Back at the bus, we made our way to the Shinkansen station (aka bullet train) for a two-hour ride to Toyonaka. Once we got to Toyanaka, we knew we were home…especially given the sign that said “Welcome Home San Mateo!”
Right then and there, things got REAL for our team! It was interesting to hear the tone of the conversations change from the bullet train to the bus ride to the Toyonaka Recreation Center. The confident jibber jabber changed to just nervous jibber as each player realized that they were about to meat their new family for the next week. It was like a middle-school dance our kids staring nervously at who their host family is and the host families wondering who was about to infiltrate their homes!
The hours of practicing introductions in Japanese paid off. Each player NIALED their intros when they met their host families.
And then they were off…
Game one is scheduled for 5 PM locale time on Friday, August 14th. Tune in to GameChanger for game updates.