On Saturday Jack and I caught the Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, out of Tokyo to go north to Koriyama to stay with Miki's parents, Ichiro and Hirome. The Shinkansen is an amazing train that looks like, in Jack's words "a bloody great eel". They certainly don't skimp with the leg room, and it is possible to turn your seat 180 degrees so you can face which ever way you wish. Travelling at about 150 miles an hour, we were soon met on the station by Hiromi, with Ichiro waiting in the car outside.
We were whisked off towards the mountains and had a stop at a noodle bar for our lunch. We reached a ski resort half an hour later and Jack and I rigged ourselves out with boots, skis and poles. I haven't skied since 1967 when I was nobut a lass, but was quite good then. Jack has done a fair amount of skiing since being in Japan but not regularly. I felt so frustrated as I couldn't get the hang on it at all and fell at every turn. I pratted about on the nursery slope while Jack explored the higher slopes. He came back saying he had accidentally found himself on a Red Run and hadn't liked it very much, so he was up again to do some more exploring. This time he found a Green Run which he reckoned I could managed ok. (Ha Bloody Ha). Anyway, my optimism won the day and I hopped on the chair lift with Jack, and what seemed miles higher, hopped off again.
The so called Green Run was quite narrow at the top and snaked around and down the mountain side. I tacked down the slope, only falling about five times, until it widened out and shot under the chair lift and then into a wide stretch running back down to the bottom. Fell another five times. By this time Jack's confidence was sky-high and he was up for exploring the Red Run again. I stayed with the Green Run for the rest of the afternoon and managed to get down each time without falling, and at a quite respectable speed too. At the end of the afternoon, Jack and I met up again and he came up to the Green Run with me to see how I had improved during the afternoon. This was my great chance to show off and let him see how good I had become. The sod shot off down the run leaving me way behind, so I had no option but to try to catch him. Big Mistake. Fell many times plus the indignity of not being able to get up either, so lay beached on a pile of snow until help came. A wonderful day and I would love to go skiing again. My trophy from the day is an enormous bruise at the top of my thigh. Don't think I have ever had such a hugh one.
We then went back to Koriyama to Miki's parents house. I had bought a big Christmas pudding with me as they are very difficult to get in Japan, and Ichiro has a great passion for them. He was overjoyed with it, and sat nursing it on his lap with a look of great ecstasy on his face. Hiromi cooked roast Japanese Red Crested Crane with roast potatoes, fried mushrooms and a sprig of watercress with Spot Bill Duck pate for starters. I opted for a seaweed sandwich and tofu curry but Jack ate the Crane with gusto, toasting Uncle Jimmie all the while.
On Sunday we were taken for a drive to see some old, traditional type Japanese houses. It was snowing hard by this time and the drive up and over the mountains was hair raising. Ichiro is a superb driver, and honestly I wasn't scared once, although I did notice Hiromi clinging on to the Passenger Grab Rail and even occasionally sitting in the brace position. I wish certain people could take a lesson in driving from Ichiro. I'm not mentioning any names, but I think Peter will know who I'm talking about.
We caught the Shinkansen back to Tokyo late afternoon, with pressies for Miki and Allan. It was lovely to see them again. Apparently Allan had been a little tyrant while we were away and he got his own back by pooing on Jack in the bath! Good old Allan! Grandma is teaching you well.
I still haven't learned how to put photos through Jack's computer yet, but maybe soon.