Happy Halloween! By the time you read this I would have already started on an extremely long three days. Today is Halloween. I will be taking my students trick or treating tonight. I can’t wait to see the kids in their costumes. Jeremy, the cats, and I will be dressing up as well. We are all characters from Supernatural. Jeremy will be Dean, Bagheera is Castiel, Katniss is Amara, and I will be Rowena. I love dressing up and love that I will be a red head again.
Before everyone comes over I will be finishing up getting ready for my flights. I fly out of Hiroshima at 9:20am on China Eastern Airlines. That means I need be on the road at 5am to get to the airport on time. I doubt I’ll be getting much sleep tonight because I am so excited to see my family and because I will be exploring China tomorrow (if I can get a 24 hour visa). I have a 10 hour layover in Shanghai before flying to JFK airport in New York City. Then I have another 8 hour layover in New York City before I fly to Raleigh. I will either be sleeping or working blog stuff, my book, and/ or listening to music or podcasts. It’s going to be long flights but I am excited.
I have spent the last few weeks getting ready for this trip. I had to apply for a tourist passport. Thankfully the people at SJA are amazing and were able to get it to me in 10 days. I thought it was going to take a lot longer. Remember all the hoops I had to jump through just over a year ago coming to Iwakuni? Now I just have to get a passport for Jeremy.
I also bought new luggage. That was a goal I had for Jeremy and me this year was to get new, nice luggage. Most of our luggage we brought with us to Japan is half military gear and half luggage we bought at yard sales because we needed it for a quick trip but we weren’t planning on being word travelers. Last year’s flight home was a wake up call that we need to invest in good luggage. We borrowed two suitcases to go home and the stuff we had before was literally disintegrating by the time we got back to Japan. I bought a teal and black hard suitcase and matching carryon. I love how they look and the locks that are on them. The zippers actually lock into the suitcase itself instead of the zipper tags having a lock tying them together. When I get back, Jeremy and I are going to go pick him out luggage. They have more out around the holidays to pick from and are little cheaper. These two pieces cost almost $200. Ouch.
I also went on Wednesday last week to get a Japanese blessing for safe travels. Saori was nice enough to arrange it for me. The blessing was at the Shirasaki Shrine. Jeremy and I love this shrine because it has statues of all the animals from the Chinese Zodiac around the shrine. Before the blessing, Saori told me that I need to get an envelope from Daiso to put my payment for the blessing in. She sent me a picture of what I need to get (I seriously don’t know what I would without her help). The fee is either ¥3000 or ¥5000 ($30 or $50) for the blessing.
I didn’t take my cell phone or purse with me into the blessing because I didn’t want to be disrespectful. I only took a picture of the outside of the shrine when I parked and then tossed my phone back into the car. I love how Japan is safe enough to do that. After parking I went to the office to the left of the shrine and met one of the employees. They had me write my name and where I was going on a piece of paper. Then he sent me to go sit in the shrine until the priest could come do the blessing. The priest arrived quickly and had me sit closer to the front. He spoke some English so it was easy to understand what he wanted me to do. Then he started the blessing. I wish I could explain better what he was doing but it was really cool. The priest went back and forth between banging on a large drum, loudly singing, and waving rods with either folded paper or brass bells in front of the alter. Whenever he waved the rods over the alter, he would come and then wave them over me. At one point he brought a branch over that had folded white paper on it. I have to hold a certain way, then turn it up right while bowing towards it and thinking my intentions into the branch. Through out the ceremony the priest told me when I need to bow a little or bow really deep. I really appreciated his guidance. After the ceremony was done he had a bag of things to give me. It included a bottle of sake, a small thing of rice, two religious charms that I was told to keep together to have safe travels, and a long flat wooden stick. The priest explained that the wooden stick I would need to write my hopes on the front and my name and address on the back. Then I was suppose to put it in a pile of similar sticks to be burned on New Year’s Day. Then he led me back to the office where another employee poured me a saucer of plum juice (a substitute for sake) to drink to finish the ceremony. I loved this ceremony. I feel better about flying now (I love flying but I hate the take off and landing parts).
Since I leave tomorrow morning and won’t be landing in Raleigh until Wednesday it may be a few days until I get a chance to blog again but please make sure you check back. I have lots of stuff planned for while I am home including to mini vacations to Asheville, NC and Charleston, SC. I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!