Betz and Anne flew from Vancouver, Canada and arrived at Narita on July 6th. Kazuto kindly met us at the airport and escorted us to our lodgings. The next day he took us to the Shimura Square Dance Party.
On July 9th, after taking a train to the northeast to Oyama by mistake, we backtracked to Omiya and boarded the correct train to Nagano where we were met by Kazuto Kobayashi (we were 2 hours late!)
The next day Kazuto and Kazu took us into the mountains at Jigokudani to see the snow monkeys. We were very entertained with their antics. After a lovely lunch, Kazuto toured us around the Tanaka home in Suzaka. We loved the historic kimonos. That evening his wife taught us how to make eggplant oyaki. On a later night she showed us how to make a great variety of tempura and we had a lovely feast with their family.
We arrived at Hotel Shiga Sunvalley with The Kazuto’s on July 12th, and the next morning Kazuto drove us to the top of the mountain to see the beautiful views and the wild mountain flowers. Betz enjoyed visiting with Nagano Apple Square members who she had met on previous visits, and Anne enjoyed making new friends. This was Anne’s first visit to Japan and because she has only been dancing for one year, she found it difficult at first but everyone was very helpful and accommodating. We loved seeing all the colorful and creative dance outfits, and admired the graceful round dancers. Jerry and Mac and the other guest callers created a lively and fun jamboree, and we really enjoyed ourselves. We ate our meals with Jerry and were interested to learn more about his travels and square dancing in the United States. Thank you to the Nagano Apple Squares for hosting the wonderful reception on Saturday night.
A favourite highlight was the campfire with all the singing, folk dancing, square dancing, fireworks and sparklers. It was truly magical! The rest of the evening was also great fun with lively parties and great cheer.
The rest of our holiday was in Kyoto to see the Gion Matsuri, and tour the many historic temples, shrines and beautiful gardens. We spent one day in Nara and really admired the giant Buddha.
We would especially like to thank Kazuto and his wife, and their family for being our wonderful hosts, and the Nagano Apple Squares for the fantastic jamboree and kind hospitality. We hope to see some of you in Canada!
Happy dancing, Anne and Betz