Return of Spring

Though, living alone seems tough at times I am blessed to have a wealth of good friends who care. Spring is a wonderful time on Iki island. Not only do all the wonderful flowers start to bloom, new spring food is made and picnics beneath the sakura trees are had, but also love is abound.

This Spring, My fiance and I decided 3 weeks before his planned trip to see me, that we would like to get married on Iki. It was tough and a little stressful to plan a mini wedding and get the legal documents before the date, but with the help of my wonderful Iki friends and family, we were able to pull off a wonderfully unique wedding for under 1000 dollars!! (not including the dress rental).  My theme was Daiso!!  Yup, I managed to have a Daiso wedding. All the decor came from Daiso for under 7000 yen.

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But for reals, the theme was Cherry blossoms! And it was perfectly timed for the sunniest day on Iki and all the cherry blossoms we in bloom!! It could not have been any more perfect. After getting back on Monday from my trip to Kyoto with my then Fiance, we rushed around to unpack, prepare the decor and ourselves for the wedding on the Tuesday. We were almost late for our own wedding, cuz in our panicked rush out the door Mike forgot his dress shirt! haha.

When we got there, we set up all the last minute decor and set up the laptop for the family to view from home, live! The Wedding was set to start at 11, so around 10 Mike got ready in one of the back rooms of the church and I began my transformation in another with the help of Rachel, Yui, Yuki Shigematsu and Okuban san! Together, we got me into the rental wedding dress from Juno Dress in Fukuoka, which came by mail on Monday to the church. Lucky for Rachel and I, the 3 weeks before the wedding, when we decided to have the wedding, June Dress was the 4th wedding shop we entered on that rainy Saturday and, without an appointment and some patience, the wonderful attendants at Juno dress were able to find me a beautiful wedding dress and they even brought it down into my price range!! It came with all the extras, shoes, a veil, undershifts and a shall. Thank you so much Juno dress for helping me with this beautiful special day!! It couldn’t have gone any better!!

It was almost time, a few seats were empty, but that’s because, in our hurry, I forgot to tell them a few of the guests wouldn’t be there till the lunch. We started at 11:03am, I believe. My teacher with the small kids had to decline at the last moment due to moving conflicts in Sasebo, so I asked Marijon’s daughters to step in. It was very last minute, like at the church before it started, haha haha… Sorry!!  Thank you!!

I nervously walked down and I swear if my mom and family had been there in person, I probably would have cried, but with them on the laptop, I couldn’t see them, so I managed to hold the feelings back. Mikes look though was priceless when I finally walked down to the song I’ve been waiting to hear for so long; The farewell tune from the Lord of the Rings musical, seriously, it’s the perfect music for this walk down the aisle, as I say goodbye to my time as a single woman and make the commitment to the man before me, my best friend, my 10+ year love, the one I tell all my secrets; Mike.

The service was conducted in both English and Japanese, as most of the guests were Japanese. My only concern was that Mike would not get what was happening, but at the rehearsal the day before, we ran through it a couple of times and helped him to understand the gist of what was happening and being said. Still, I’d like to get a transcription from the pastor of what he said during the sermon, so that I may have a record of it and so that my family can also know what he was saying.

My family, during the ceremony, were also hosting a party of their own. Mikes Parents and My mom and Aunt all gathered at my moms’ places and they cut their own cake with a bride and groom on top, they lit the unity candle and decorated the house. They ever had mother-of-the-bride and groom teacups!! I loved seeing the pictures after. They watched excitedly from the TV hooked up to someone’s laptop. My sister and her Husband were also connected to our Google hangouts call. After the ceremony, everyone who passed by the laptop on their way out for pictures bowed and congratulated my family on the laptop, it was amusing and great to see.

In all the amazing things that were happening, we made a small miscalculation with the order of events and forgot to do the bouquet tossing before the lunch, but still, we had a great time. More guests turned up and we got a wonderful group shot thanks to my two wonderful photographers. The sun was really bright and it literally was killing our eyes as we looked towards it for the cameras. Mike had to give in, lest all out shoots turn out with him squinting, so he switched to sunglasses. I could not relieve my eyes as I wore contacts and did not have a pair of nonprescription glasses.

After a few more photo’s they hustled me inside and I changed out of the dress and into a Kimono we were able to borrow from a wonderful woman on Iki, whose son I think I teach. It was a beautiful blue with peacock feather-like designs on it and really long sleeves! Thanks yo my Grandpas request to see me in Kimono, Okubo san helped me change my hairstyle and wear the Kimono perfectly! Then we joined the guests for the home prepared lunch, many wonderful thanks to Yuki, Yui and Kanako Shigematsu for they hard work preparing the lunch all night!! It was truly fantastic! I gave a short speech, as Mike was too nervous, but that’s fine. I tried in Japanese and then switched to English for the end. Many of my guests knew a few basic English phrases so I made sure to keep it simple. Then, we chatted and feasted!  Mike and I had prepared a CD of love songs we’ve liked since we met, so in the background, on low, we had the music playing while everyone chatted and enjoyed the food. Lunch was a selection of sandwiches, crackers with fancy marmalades, sushi rice, and tea! It was really good! Then, we had a few of our guests perform for us! My Koto teacher played us a tradition wedding dong on the Koto! It was beautiful as everyone listened intently to the tunes coming from the Japanese harp.  After, Rachel and Hiroki stole away and prepared a guitar and song for us on the spot! It was wonderful! I managed to get a phone recording from one of the guests as the camera had been turned off.

Then, the cake came out. I had ordered a cheesecake from the local bakery that all the ALT’s get their birthday cakes from because the guy who runs it is amazing at recreating images in chocolate on the cake! So the cake was decorated with cherry blossoms and monkey rock! Stars and a poem Mike and I created together, and best of all, two wedding clad Jinmenseki’s!! Yes! Iki’s mascot was on my cake. It was a true Iki wedding, hehe. Thank you so much, Rachel, for helping with the cake!! It was fantastic! We cut the cake, I gave mike a bite, then they all gave me a huge serving spoon to give Mike his bite, haha, you can see how great it was to watch from these pictures! My reaction, priceless!

 

After the lunch, we took more photos and cleaned up together. But I didn’t have the chance to have any engagement photos taken or wedding photos of just us, so before we cleaned up everything else we took a trip to Monkey rock with the main wedding party that was still present and we got beautiful shots with our favourite Iki sightseeing monkey. Then, as the weather and blossoms were perfectly timed, we drove to the park on the hill with all the Sakura trees and took from Sakura shoots! It was great! Then we returned tot he church, changed, cleaned and packed and loaded the car. We attached the coffee cans to the car and made a racket down the hill and through the main street of Gounoura, lol, to my great embarrassment, till we started losing cans and decided to cut them off before driving home. We also were the first foreigners to have their marriage registered at Iki city hall! Ever!! So we were super excited about this. Thank you to Matthew Seuda for helping us with the translation and communication of the paperwork and fine details and thank you to the wonderful ladies at Iki city hall for helping us to understand the documents! It made us so happy to have such a unique wedding on Iki. That night we were surprised with a visit from Rachel who helped us open gifts and record who gave what so that Mike and I could begin making thank you cards. We want to thank all of our guests for the wonderful, thoughtful gifts you gave to us for our wedding. We didn’t expect anything and just wanted you to enjoy your time and have fun! Thank you for thinking of us and helping us out! Your support means a great deal to us and we appreciate it!

 

That weekend we had plans to go to Kumamoto for the onsen village in Kurakawa, so we extended our honeymoon and stayed a day in Fukuoka, touring the Castle and Cherry Blossom viewing beforehand. The Kurakawa onsen was fantastic and a wonderful relaxing place. The food was great and to our unexpected surprise, one of our meals included horse sashimi. I almost wish I hadn’t known, cuz I love horses too much… but… it was good… but… I would probably not order it on my own just because I love horses.

I visited 10 onsens, including one that left a red mark from being much too hot to even sit in (I tried the first sulfur bath and basically scalded my legs and butt. uggg). All the wonderful baths cleaned up my acne and I almost wished I had gone before the wedding to get these kinds of results. Then, when we returned home, Mike extended his stay! So we spent our last week relaxing on Iki and joining Matt for a Shochu tour in Ashibe/Ishida. Man, that was fun!

Soon it was time for Mike to return home and, even in our happy marriage bliss, I felt great sadness when I drove away from the airport that morning and went to work. My teachers didn’t yet know he had just left and I tried not to cry while I introduced myself to the new kids in school. I had calligraphy that night too and there, I received a gift from my teacher and classmates and then the damn broke and I balled and cried and they got worried and yes… I was a mess. I eventually got over it; partly a result of being physically exhausted and emotionally drained, my emotions were all over the place for a good week. I needed lots of rest and that weekend I got it – by sleeping. Haha.

I didn’t have long to be alone, for before I knew it, my good friend and stand partner and diligent book editor from University, Jackie P. was coming to Japan, and Iki to visit me for the Golden Week. I didn’t have much time to prepare, but I helped her pack through Mike and LINE. We spent the first weekend on Iki and man, we managed to pack everything in and it was fantastic! She loved Iki! We did the tour of Dragon Island and the water was beautiful! We saw monkey shrine on Ondake! We saw Monkey rock! Gorilla face! Demons footprint! The museum! a beach! The dolphins! We had great food and a great time! We caught up on all our teacher stuff and somewhere in all that got sleep.

Then, we began our Japan, 6 city tour!  The plan from Fukuoka was to spend a night in each city, but pretty much 2 days too. We went to Hiroshima, Miyajima from Monday to Tuesday. There, we visited the Castle tower, the bombing memorial museum, the infamous float tori and climbed a mountain with help from the Miyajima ropeway! THen we caught the Shinkansen to Kobe! Spent the night there, and grabbed a bus up Rokko mountain to Arima Onsen Hotel. Perfect weather followed us all week and the only rainy day was the day we spent with Rachel at the Onsen. Thank you, God! We had fish eat our feet and got Jackie in the baths, (So happy she tried it!! BFFS!!) and Rachel and I had a hair treatment! (mainly cuz I got sunburn on my scalp and really thought it’d help soothe the irritation. It did!) From there, we went up the mountain on another ropeway, which was terrifying and I have videos of it… so high, so open. But I survived! Thanks to Jackie’s continual support. If you don’t already know, I have a great terror of heights. It’s like… worse than fear. Terror!

Then, Rachel joined the retreat on Mt Rokko for the rest of the week while Jackie and I continued our trip! We visited a Historical Antique German Musicbox Museum on the top of a mountain in Japan (mt Rokko) and listened to a music box play StarWars… Yes… StarWars!! The best!!  Then we saw a small garden and caught out bus back down to Kobe to get ourselves to Osaka. There, we spent 2 nights resting. We spent our first day touring Kyoto! We saw the Kinkakuji temple, Mizudera temple, and the Heien Shrine and gardens! So beautiful!!! We had some curry, okonomiyaki, and great food all week. The last day, we wasted 2 hours trying to find lockers for our bags and then spent the day at Osaka Castle and grounds playing Pokemon Go and learning a lot about history in Osaka while milling through the horrendous crowds. But it was great! We got our bags, got to the station, caught out train, met Rachel at the next stop and chilled all the way back to Fukuoka. There we stayed one more night in an awesome apartment and had Hawaiin pancakes for breakfast! Then I took Jackie to Hakata, stopped by the Pokemon centre and then I sent her on her way to the Airport! I was very sad to see her go so I killed 2 hours in the bookstore reading my novel which I was nearly done (and finished that Sunday when I got home).

Finally, Rachel and I got back to Iki and had time to relax. We caught up with Emi about her trip with Jesse to Thailand and then I went home to unpack and decompress. May has been chill, teaching the kids, getting to know the new teachers, writing my blog story with my friend in Toronto and writing my own stuff to pass the time alone. Mike and I started watching Gravity Falls and I’ve enjoyed doing a bible study with Rachel about Hosea, cleaning my house for spring, killing bugs that find their way into my house, and reading more books. Now I am being harassed by the neighbours loud male cat outside my window on this very windy day, hoping to see the unmanned drone take off later this afternoon at Ishida Airport. I have a cafe concert tonight, so I’ll practice my pieces after this post and continue to finish my chores and enjoy the cold temperatures the wind has brought.

Thank you, everyone, who is following my blog, enjoying my posts and chapters and I look forward to the future of this blog with you! Thank you for your likes and I hope you continue to enjoy my tales of life in Japan and fantastical tales.  Happy May and Victoria day weekend!! Cheers!

And for you dedicated folks, here’s some great bloopers you can caption!! hehe

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