Monday, March 30, 2009

Tail-wind made us get to SFO in 9 hours!

Some enjoyed final shopping at Kyoto station area and Kansai International Airport area. The lucky tail-wind brought us back to the United States in 9 hours but Chicago snowy/windy weather stopped us at San Francisco much longer than scheduled. Two students became a volunteer to give up their seats for desperately needy passengers since United gave "$300 voucher to stay over night in SFO, $600 value United money voucher, and First class seating to Chicago tomorrow!" GTS could have done that if no class will be tomorrow, but..... We all arrived in Chicago at 9pm safely!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Osaka Sakura wasn't quite ready for us but....

The final day of the trip was to go to Osaka Castle hoping that we might see more blooming Sakura, yet wasn't quite ready for us. We did see some Sakura blooming "wrong" in a sense! Trip members gathered at night to enjoy final group dinner. GTS as well as trip members are NOT ready to go back to Chicago but the class begins on Monday! I have to prepare for it as soon as getting back to Chicago at 8pm on Sunday!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Deer welcomed us but not the weather!

It was cold and wet!!! Everyone enjoyed feeding many deer in Nara Park, Todai-ji temple, and other complex buildings but the sun only showed up occasionally though some Sakura were beautifully blooming. Upon returning to Kyoto after lunch, we went straight to Nishijin Textile center to hopefully catch the final Kimono show which we made it. Few Westerners among tons of Chinese tourists enjoyed almost final shopping. GTS is really really hoping to get a nice weather for OSAKA visit tomorrow!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not warming UP but a bit blooming on!

Chilly day continued today and we did further chilling area of Daikaku-ji temple where everyone including little Ema tried brush writing of Buddhist scripture of Han-nya-shin-gyo (般若心経) in a warmest room 'Godai-do.' We left the temple for Nonomiya-shrine through the Sagano walking bamboo trail while we lost two members on our way. During the lunch time, the lost two contacted me and joined the group luckily. Then Hankyu train took us back to the center of the city where we visited Maruyama-park with 50% Sakura blooming and Kodai-ji temple and Ryozen Kannon (huge mercy Buddha statue outside). Night was enjoyed by the traditional performances show!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Alley to the Nijo Castle and Heian Shrine Garden!

From the hotel, we took the unique route of alleys to the Nijo Castle where some Sakura began blooming. Then city subway took us from the castle to the Heian Jingu Shrine whose garden is extravagant! The handicraft center was just next to the Heian Jingu Shrine and everyone seemed to contribute to Japan's economy for about 3 hours during which GTS took a quick trip to pick up 'bullet Train' tickets for few members to travel to Tokyo tomorrow as deviation. GTS will make a long round trip to Yamaguchi tomorrow to attend the forum! The group will be taken care of a teacher of Kyoto International Academy and will go to Arashiyama area where Sakura can be in full bloom! Yes, the Flea market at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine won't be missed tomorrow though the weather might not help us!

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Silver Pavilion uncovered and The Rock Garden covered!

Night rain has passed but chilling weather came in! Arriving the Golden Pavilion before its opening made our group experience chilling wind. Beautiful golden structure couldn't quite warm us up until walking down to the Rock Garden as a little exercise. The Rock Garden was seen in the scaffolding to make us meditate in a strange manner. Everyone had a lunch at a cafeteria of Ritsumeikan University where GTS 'studied' years ago. The express city bus took us to the right in front of the hospital where GTS was born in early 60's. The philosopher's trail led us to the Silver Pavilion which has just uncovered a few days ago after re-roofing. The new Japanese cypress roof looked like a Gold leaves and reminds us of the Golden Pavilion. Along the philosopher's trail some bought a nice hot coffee and enjoyed it while getting to the bus stop from which the direct bus to the hotel left!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

1001 Mercy Buddha Statues & Phoenix welcomed us!

90% precipitation forecast didn't quite rain until the end of the today's schedule, which was really nice!! The packed city bus took us to "Sanjusangen-do (三十三間堂)" where 1001 'Buddha for Mercy" statues welcomed us! Several kinds of cherry blossoms around the main building has just begun blooming to say hello to our group. Then Keihan train took us to the Phoenix Pavilion and Ema/GTS enjoyed Tea-Udon Noodles (which Ema says "Midori no Udon") as a lunch. Sakura there hasn't begun active yet but we could easily imagine what will happen in a few days! The end of the trip was our 'youngster terminal, Shijo Kawaramachi' where most trip members were dismissed for shopping, drinking, eating, strolling, etc. Tomorrow, one of Kyoto International Academy teachers will join our group to be introduced so that SHE can take care of my absence on Wednesday when GTS attends the forum in Yamaguchi Prefectural University some 400 miles away from Kyoto!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

GTS/Ema and 11 travelers safely arrived in Kyoto!

At first in the O'Hare at 5am, there had been a problem for our flight/aircraft. Shortly after, they announced the change of aircraft and we got to San Francisco on time. We also left there on time and arrived in Kansai/Osaka before the scheduled time. Yet, because of many international flights' arrival at the same time, going through the custom took a while and we decided to take a direct bus trip to hotel from the Airport. Some had drinks at the airport while waiting the bus. After all everyone got to the hotel at 8pm! Well, some had still some energy left to go out to eat their dinner!. GTS and Ema returned home at 9:30pm but not sleepy as you can imagine the time difference! The program begins tomorrow with meeting with 2002 images of Buddha of Mercy (Kannon)!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

GTS leaves for Japan in a few hours!

Spring "Sakura-viewing" Field trip to Japan will begin shortly with 11 members including 4 COD faculty members. Some faculty members of Yamaguchi Prefectural University(YPU) will join a part of the trip to "learn" its management from GTS. GTS will be one of the invited panelists in the Special Forum held in YPU on Wednesday during the field trip. While GTS makes Bullet Train trip to Yamaguchi (2.5 hours one way!), a teaching staff of Kyoto International Academy (KIA) will take care of the COD group. About dozen students signed up for summer study abroad in Kyoto (study at KIA in the morning!). We will get to Hiroshima via Narita (Tokyo) first by All Nippon Airways for a few days to study about "PEACE" prior to go to Kyoto by Bullet Train to meet all the host families and KIA staff.

Monday, March 16, 2009

GTS as an elected Board member for ATJ!

GTS has been elected through the general member election to serve as a three-year term board member of 'Association of Teachers of Japanese (ATJ),' one of the largest professional organization for Japanese studies in the USA. This organization, which was founded in 1963, has been playing an active role in the field of Japanese studies for as many years as GTS's life! GTS will bring the most up-dated information and opportunities to students who are interested in Japanese studies! GTS and 11 field study trip members will be in Kyoto this weekend!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

GTS Trio's self invitation to Okonomiyaki Party!

GTS Trip and its associate invited themselves to GTS house where they wanted to eat Okonomiyaki (Hirosima Yaki) that they enjoyed during their study abroad trip last year! As usual, GTS Trio's tention had been constantly high and ate as much Okonomiyaki as possible before having after-Okonomiyaki Caribou coffee. Their unforgettable experience in Japan seemed to bond them together. Those trio members got friends among others through GTS Japanese class and JCC/GTS monthly dinner in the first place and grow themselves together in various capacity. I hope GTS class/trip/social-gathering continue to contribute to bringing new friendships to all.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Annual Japan Fest at OPRFHS!

The annual Japan festival was held at Oak Park & River Forest High School. Students in Japanese class there are really involved with its preparation and teachers and community members are also put utmost effort in it. Ema enjoyed two Taiko/Drum performances and Japanese traditional dance. She got her Doraemon face painting while doing brush calligraphy writing of Kanji (Kawa or 川). There are many other booths: California role booth, Yakisoba booth, Japanese snack booth, Origami booth, Nintendo booth, etc. From GTS classes, a few from 1102 and 2202 showed up with their friends and parents. I hope some will make it next year!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Over 15 members enjoyed JCC Dinner!

Under the unusually warm weather, over 15 people gathered for JCC monthly dinner and enjoyed chatting among others. Two came from U of I who are scheduled to leave next week for Japan for 1-semester study abroad before graduation, one who participated on the last summer study abroad program came from Waubonsee Community College area with over an hour drive. One, who is going to Japan with me during Spring break, came as well. 'GTS Trio minus one plus its ASSOCIATES' and current students in class also laugh and talk over the dinner! Next JCC dinner will be on 4/3/2009.
Why $50 short? Well, I hope that helped some students!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

First Friday of March is coming now!

Time really flies! The first Friday is coming in 2 days! I hope to see many GTS family members at dinner. The movie begins at 4 as usual. (see the JCC website!) Tomorrow (3/5/2009) is the first classroom meeting for the Spring break Japan trip during which I attend the Symposium held in 'Yamaguchi Prefectural University' as a panelist. There is a Japan Festival at Oak Park River Forest High School (OPRF) next Friday (3/13) beginning at 4:30pm. I hope to see some of you there as well. BTW, I went to Cook County Courthouse as a Juror-to-be for 1st degree murder case yesterday but fortunately I was dismissed early afternoon:) Lucky!