Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our Trip Home - First Stop...Japan

Sister Martin and I decided to take a visit to Japan on our way home from Guam. I, Elder Martin, served in he Kobe Mission over 30 years ago and was grateful for this opportunity to go back, even though my Japanese is rusty.

We were able to visit the Tokyo Temple, the Okamachi Ward (where I served as a young missionary), many sights in Kyoto and much more. There were a few people that noticed us as Missionaries and were excited to talk to us. One lady and her daughter from Hong Kong even asked to take a picture together.

Here's a few pictures and a travel log...

A cool view from the plane after taking off near Guam

After arriving in Kyoto, we hired an Ebisuya Rickshaw driver, Suguru-San, to take us to a few sights like the Arashiyama Bamboo forest. He was very animated and fun.

Then we hiked up the mountain to Monkey Park. Quite a hike. 

We saw some church members from Utah along the way. 

Feeding peanuts to the Monkeys

Nice view of the city from Monkey Park
Took the train and a taxi to Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion). The fall leaves were just beginning to change. It was a hot day.

Night on the town. Dinner (Japanese Cuisine) and a show by a Maiko (Geisha or Geiko in training).

We enjoyed a tour with 86 year old, Joe Okada who calls himself, "The Last Samurai". We went to many interesting Kyoto shops. He taught everyone to write their name in Japanese Katakana. 

Japanese Calligraphy

Joe from Florida - Balancing elephant game

Visited a bakery shop for some sweet breads

Joe gave us bread to feed the turtles, Koi (carp), Pigeons and Ravens

A couple was about to be married getting wedding photos taken,

Visited beautiful gardens of the Imperial Palace

The leaves were starting to change
And then Joe gave us his Samurai demonstration. He chopped apples thrown in the air with his sword. Joe said his goal was to be around for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Japan. After that he doesn't care how long he lives.

We then went to an Origami class. We want to teach our grandchildren how to make these frogs, etc.

Took the Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Hime-ji Castle

Before arriving we purchased a discounted 7-day "Japan Rail Pass" (sold to tourists only). It gave unlimited access to many of the JR Trains in Japan for the week.

So many beautiful Photo-opps in Japan.

Stopped for a little Tako-Yaki (Octopus fried in batter)
Went to church at Okamachi Ward in Osaka where I served my mission in the early 80's. I didn't recognize anyone since it was so long ago. It was the fifth Sunday, and the members invited us to join them for a pot-luck lunch after church.

While I was showing pictures of my former mission to the brother sitting next to me, he recognized one of the pictures as the brother sitting directly across the table from me. 

He introduced himself as Brother Kobashi. I remembered him. He used to hang out with the missionaries when he was a recently baptized member. He said he served a mission in Sendai Japan shortly after I went home. He didn't recognize me at first but I remembered I had a few old mission pics of him 33 year earlier in my tablet. I showed him pictures that I had of him and of what I used to look like so long ago. We had a good time talking about the past.  

So, we decided to take another picture of him holding a Book of Mormon like the one from the 80's. 


Brother Kobashi, Elder Martin, Sister Martin

We met some Kobe Mission missionaries - Elder Hill, from Oregon and Elder ??, from Utah

Visited the old missionary apartment on church property that is now a classroom.

1983 - Elder Martin and Elder Bishop

2015 - Elder Martin 
We took a tour with author Judith Clancy, writer of several books on Kyoto food and sights. We started in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto. She had us sample quite a few different foods. Very interesting.

Elder Martin and Judith Clancy in front of a natural herb shop

Trying some fresh Bluberry Mochi(pounded rice) - Quite good 

Elder and Sister Martin in the Nishiki Market

On a roof top of a Supermarket - They grown things sold in their store here.

Trying out some Black Sesame Ice Cream with soy bean powder - Also good

We had lunch in a room with a small entrance.

We had the opportunity to go up in the mountains to a beautiful garden called Sanzen-in in O-hara. Amazing gardens. Unlike other sights, everyone talked softer there so all could enjoy the beautiful peaceful gardens. Light rain made the garden glisten. It was truly an amazing garden.

Sister Martin in the Hydrangea Garden  

Walking back to the bus stop.
Off to Tokyo on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train)

Yes...6:23 AM

Thank goodness the signs change from Japanese to English

Two hours and forty minutes later we arrived in Tokyo.

First stop Tokyo LDS Temple. It's been 18 months since we've had the opportunity to go to the Temple.

We also dropped by to see a few people we had worked with in the Asia North Area Church Offices.

We had a little extra time so we contacted Sachiko Aizaki of Kongo Door. They are the Martin Garage Door Dealer in Japan that I used to work with a lot. We met with her and Kongo Door President, Takeshi Sadohara. We had a fun conversation, talking about garage door experiences and the upcoming Japan Summer Olympics in 2020.

They said they were looking forward to their container arriving soon with doors and a sample of the new products.

Their office is on the top floor of this building

View from their office

With Takeshi Sadohara and Sachiko Aizaki of Kongo Door
We then visited the Ginza area on our way to Tokyo station to catch the 185 mph train back to Kyoto.

Back in Kyoto - We took the train to Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari

Saw some interesting birds to take pictures of.

Then we took the train over to Kiyomizu-dera (meaning pure water)

 It was quite a long walk from the train station. Of course, plenty of shops along the way.

What an amazing opportunity to visit a beautiful country with wonderful people.

Next stop...LA


  1. Looks like everything went as planned!

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