The next morning, soon after we woke up we heard Megumi and Nozomi running around the house, sometimes sneaking upstairs to look in our room. We had a fantastic breakfast of sandwich makings (sandwiches seem to be a common breakfast in Japan), yogurt with honey, and later some delicious watermelon! I got to spend more time with my new young friends, too. When Megumi heard me sing some of the Japanese children's song Tulip, she went to the piano to play it - she was really skilled, and played a few other difficult songs, too. I got to make more paper boats, and then Nozomi asked me to draw with her. She made a sketch on one side of the paper, and I made my own version on the other side. This moment was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, just enjoying drawing with a happy child and speaking simple Japanese! We said goodbye to the Onishis, and it was sad to leave little Nozomi on the porch making pouty faces.
While we were in Tokushima, we found out that one of Kumiko's friends had a baby just a few days ago, so we went to a department store to buy a gift. After that we visited a kind of Tokushima visitors center, with a giant gift shop of Awa Odori items, and we rode the Bizan rope way, which is a suspended cable ride up Tokushima's largest mountain. At the top the view was wonderful, and we were amazed by all of the tombo (dragonflies) flying around. After a quick drink in the snack bar, we left Bizan and went to the hospital to meet the new baby, who was adorable. There were other visitors there, and it was strange to be in a room with lots of Japanese mothers talking about baby care (including breast massage)! One of the visitors was nice enough to give us a ride to a ramen place, so we could eat Tokushima ramen (which is different because of the soup broth and the beef that's used) - it was delicious! Soon we were on the bus back to Osaka, and our travels were over.
The next morning, Matt & Kumiko needed to water their garden (in an area they rent from the city), and I wanted to go see the farming in action. This meant I had to ride Kumiko's bike, which was a little scary (since I'm not used to riding on streets with cars and pedestrians), but tons of fun! It was so cool to be able to cover so much ground in only a ten-minute ride, and we got to pass sights like a fun water park filled with kids. At the garden, Matt picked tons of okra and watered everything, while I caught my breath and took pictures (of course). We rode home to have breakfast, and Kumiko bought some great treats from the bakery, including pastries of Pikachu and Anpanman! After breakfast, Matt and I went to Umeda station for some serious shopping - I bought toys, CDs, books, and all kinds of things for myself and my pals back home. We had a small beef-bowl lunch (though it was actually pork) to end our shopping day.
That evening we met up with Kumiko's friend Tabata, and she went with us to go airplane watching! Itami airport is walking distance from Matt & Kumiko's apartment, and there's a spot where you can gather right next to the fence by a major runway. When the huge planes come in to land, they fly right over your head, and the wind and sound is so exciting! There were other people there watching, including photographers, and we had fun screaming for each 747! Later we went to Gyu Kaku (a favorite restaurant from my last trip) for yakiniku, which is thinly-sliced beef that you cook yourself on a grill right in the middle of the table. At the start of the meal, I got to play janken-pon (rock, paper, scissors) with the waiter, and I won a free dessert! All of the food was wonderful, and the conversation with Tabata was great, because she knew about lots of the same anime and manga that I enjoy. It was fun to speak some Japanese and talk to a fellow otaku! We said good bye to Tabata and went home for a little TV and whiskey, ready for our day in Nara in the morning.
View photos: Days 4-5