Monday, April 23, 2007

Public Service Announcement

The Reyes-Matos Family is coming to a town near you!!!! We will be visiting our good friends in the D the last week of April. If you want to say hi or just check that I have not made this whole blog up them come and join us!!!! Here are the details:

When: Thursday, April 26th at 5:00 pm
Where: Bailey's in Dearborn

WHEN: Friday, April 27th 9:00 pm
WHERE: Leopold Bros Brewery 523 S. Main St. in Downtown Ann Arbor

Hope to see you there!!!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cherry Blossoms

The past two weeks everyone in Hiroshima (and the rest of Japan) have been going crazy looking at the cherry blossom trees, which in Japanese is call "Sakura". So Orlando and I decided to be part of the group and go look at some sakura in the nearby town of Iwakuni (see pictures below).

For more pictures Check out:¤t=.my_first_widget.pbw

I recently found that it is a Japanese tradition to go to parks, shrines and temples with family and friends and hold a "flower viewing party" known as Hanami. I was invited to the Ford Hamani party and started asking around what do people actually do in these activities? Basically you talk, drink and eat while staring at a tree. I answered back that in Puerto Rico you do the same but on the beach!!! I was very surprised to see the park completely full of people on their own company's Hanami party. Everyone seemed very happy, the party next to us was even singing and dancing (if you can call it that) or maybe it was just too much sake (rice wine)? I will have to investigate further next year because the sakura is already dying!! Here is a picture of the many Hamani Party in the Peace Memorial Park.

We also visited Shukkeien gardens just 3 blocks from our apartment. It only took us 9 months to go check it out!?!?!?!? That's normal? right..?

Ok that's enough tree watching, at least next year I know what to expect.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Map of Japan

Since a few people have been inquiring about coming over for a visit. Here is an interactive map of the places we have visited in Japan. If you click on the icon you will see the name of the city. Also you can move the map to the right in order to see how far Tokyo (pink bubble) is from Hiroshima (8 hours driving and 5 hours via bullet train).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tea Ceremony

On 3/25/07 I had the opportunity to attend a Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony in Miyajima Island (30 minutes from Hiroshima). Check out the tiny entrance to the tea house. I asked the lady "Why do you have to crawl through such a small door?". She said "In order to show respect, it forces you to enter the tea room bowing." Interesting.
There was a beautiful garden in front of the tea house.
Before entering the tea room you have to wash your hands in order to "purify your soul". Here is some proof that I'm "purified" (I'm not sure if it counts if you are not Buddhist but hey might as well try).
The Tea Ceremony ladies taught us how to make some tea. Is seemed easy but one of the ladies said she has been studying 8 years in order to master the art of the Tea Ceremony.
Here I am stirring as fast as I could, but it was not enough. The lady next to me got tired of waiting and took the bowl away and began to stir herself !!!
Here is some video I took of the ceremony:
Tea ceremony part 1

Tea ceremony part 2

Here is our lucky group of people, notice that almost all the Japanese ladies where wearing a kimono. The host, male or female, wears a kimono, while guests may wear kimono or subdued formal wear. According to my research "The host, male or female, wears a kimono, while guests may wear kimono or subdued formal wear. " If by "subdued formal wear" you mean a shirt and some jeans I'm there!!! Never the less, I was happy in my super Hello Kitty shirt... hey at least she is Japanese OK? I guess I should have read some information before going, so don't let the same thing happen to you!!! Check out the following link for more information:

There was also the Japanese Doll Festival called Hina-matsuri, or Girls' Day. Platforms with a red cloth (called hi-mōsen), are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (called hina-ningyō) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress.

Here they used a kimono to decorate the background instead of the traditional red cloth.
The dolls had extremely detailed faces and costumes. I talked to some people at work and they said these dolls are usually very expensive (around $2,000 for a set) and are often handed down from generation to generation. So now you know that if you come and visit me we can't buy one and cut their hair and alter their clothes like an old barbie. If you want to learn more about these dolls visit: