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Hi Ho - Hi Ho .... it's homeward bound we go

At the completion of my last A Deer Cottage blog, we had just a few precious moments and days left in Japan. These last few days were spent wisely, Lachlan asked us both what we would like to do, we revisited the sushi train, which was Te Kani's favourite eating place (we even had up to 55 plates of sushi between the four of us!) and visited a pizza restaurant, the pizza cooked authentically in a pizza oven - I chose a seafood topping, as I wanted to make the most of the seafood before leaving for little ole Kaukapakapa in New Zealand!

We also visited a couple more Temples, I loved visiting the Temples and Shrines, I automatically had a sense of serenity, calm and peace wandering through them, however my favourite was the Shrine just a minute up the road from Lachlan and Hisae's home, tucked up into the forest, this was my last wish... however, I was more than happy to spend every last waking minute with Lachlan, Hisae and Luna, actually to be honest I would have been happy to spend every sleeping minute with them too....

Thursday the 28th of July came about so very quickly, a few days before I started getting teary eyed when I thought about leaving Japan, my son, his wife and our most beautiful baby grand daughter, I started to think about what it would feel like to go back to New Zealand, I decided it was going to feel very strange, as Te Kani and I would be empty nesters, for me the first time in 31 years! we now had our two eldest, son and daughter living overseas, our youngest daughter living a plane flight away in Wellington, and our youngest son a 6 hour drive away....but I suppose that is what life journey is all about, for me bringing up the kids to be happy and letting them live their life, wherever that may take them, ultimately gives me the greatest joy..

Secretly like a squirrel, I spent a few minutes a day (in the last few days) sneaking outside to blow kisses, wave goodbye, and whisper sweet nothings into Lachlan's outdoor garden cameras, so that when he took out the little SD card after we left Japan, he would get a nice surprise, I felt like a crazy mad woman, and I surprised myself on the last morning waving goodbye, getting very emotional. I know a couple of days before leaving Kyōtango, and a little walk around their neighbourhood, I spied a yellow metal sign on an abandoned house that was due to be demolished, I went back and asked Hisae if it would be ok to take it down and take back to New Zealand, to put in my garden back home, she laughed and definitely thought I was that mad woman!

The morning of the 28th, Hisae woke Luna up for our last hugs and photos goodbye, Lachlan set his google map to the Kyoto train station, where Te Kani and I were going to catch the Shinkansen "New Trunk Line" or Bullet train as we knew it - (the high speed passenger train), and we set off for Tokyo to spend the next two nights with my relative Malcolm who also chooses to call Japan his home.

The trip to Kyoto was fairly quiet, I was lost in my thoughts of saying goodbye to Lachlan, and sure enough before long we were at the platform, the train arrived, and my tears started, hugging Lachlan goodbye I never wanted to let go - swirling around in my head were all the thoughts I had been thinking about, "when would we see Lachlan, Hisae and Luna again?, how many milestones would we miss with Luna? would I be ok with just our precious memories to keep me going? ". Fortunately, we all took so many photos, and I knew we would have regular family messenger chats and gaming days with us all together again. I knew that would help me cope.

Check out the slideshow below ... see if you can spot Mt Fuji behind the clouds...

The bullet train trip was over before we really had time to blink, Kyoto to Tokyo was a mere 2 hours by Shinkansen, by the time I had time to gather myself together we were in the big smoke, and about to battle the station and and make our way to find Malcolm with our five suitcases in tow. It was so lovely to see Malcolm's smiling face and calm exterior, his warmth and friendship was so welcomed, I think he knew how emotional it was for us leaving our boy behind. Malcolm organised a wonderful few days for us, a full day tour of Tokyo, wonderful meals at tiny little restaurants, where the laughter and banter was so joyful to listen too, Te Kani and I had no idea what Malcolm was chatting about with the restauranteur's but I loved listening to the Japanese language, and once again we got to enjoy some of the best food I have ever experienced. And then at the end of our Tokyo stay, Malcolm put us on a bus for Narita, the International Airport.

The tour of Tokyo started off with Te Kani and I giggling to ourselves, the tour guide was a mine of information lots of hand gestures, and talking non stop, however, Te Kani and I quickly figured out we were the only non Japanese on the bus, and had no understanding of the language... and after approximately 30 minutes with the bus weaving through many high rise buildings, the bus pulled over, the guide held up a sign that indicated to come back to the same spot after a couple of hours...I looked in horror at Te Kani, as I thought how on earth will we find our way back, and where on earth were we going?

To cut a long story short, the tour consisted of visiting the Tuna Auction Markets, The Skytree Tower, the Sensō-ji, an ancient Buddhist Temple located in Asakusa, and a wonderful lunch in a city hotel. We were very blessed to have one of the other travellers Hatsue a local, approach Te Kani, she mentioned that she had a little English, and would help us out with the translating...(boy did we miss Lachlan). Hatsue was a godsend, and even helped put us on the train at the end of the tour to get back to Malcolm's house. We have remained friends with Hatsue and her husband, we send regular emails to each other, and feel sure we will one day meet again.

Once again, we were off, Malcolm had shown us a brilliant time, his hospitality was amazing, we had a serious conversation about the toilet seats we encountered wherever we went, the warmed seat; the water flushing etc, Te Kani and I both loved them, and Malcolm reassured us that on his next trip back home, he will be bringing us back one. Malcolm also shared a wonderful photo he took at the base of Mt Fuji with his motorbike, his photo had special pride of place on the front page of the Japanese Motorcycle Club magazine where Malcolm spent many years working.

At Narita Airport, Te Kani got chatting to a lovely man, who mentioned his niece was about to embark on a year living in Auckland, her English was minimal, her mother I think was feeling the same way I was feeling, we quickly took them under our wing, and made sure she effortlessly checked into Air New Zealand, and at the other end we made sure she found her suitcases ok, and then dropped her to where she would be staying in Auckland on our way back to Kaukapakapa. Te Kani and I are thrilled we can repay some of the kindness we were shown, and will nurture this relationship.

Back in Kaukapakapa, life took a few days for us to get back into the swing of was especially strange to come back to an empty house, however Macy our catahoula pup was more than excited to get reacquainted with us. I was thrilled to capture some of our magnificent views over the Kaipara Harbour again, and to also have a couple of A Deer Cottage guests, it has been great doing my daily Instagram posts, getting out into the garden, giving my yellow metal Japanese sign a new home.

I planned on making Luna a "kiwi" kimono, I took a pattern off a kimono Hisae bought Luna, and after a week or so, I perfected the pattern, bought some fabric, and got to it.. I am really happy with the end result. Lachlan also asked me to knit a cupcake beanie for little Luna, rather cute, if I don't say so myself.

Macy was so excited to have us home, however, she very naughtily grabbed a little doll we bought Luna in Tokyo, and destroyed her face, so creatively I cut up some old pyjama's and made the dolly a new face, with complimentary earrings, detachable brooches and banana, not quite the same dolly, but a quirky one all the same. To finish off my creative streak for the time being, I have made a hardcover photo album with all our special Japan memories, I can not wait to receive it. See the slideshow below for the photos.

I have also made a couple of soba and udon noodle meals, from a recipe Hisae shared with me, and a glass of plum wine went down a treat!

Te Kani and I have had a couple of gaming afternoons with our kids on the Nintendo Switch we bought, (for me our best purchase), with this we can connect with our kids regularly, have loads of laughs, and get a glimpse of Luna too. Te Kani and I are hopeless at Mario Kart, Mario Party and all the other Nintendo games we - in fact all the kids are in hysterics watching us play with them!

Just a few days back in New Zealand, our lovely tenants decided it was time for them to move on, so I have been busy giving our rental garden a little spring clean, I hope we do not have to wait too long before some one else decides the "Gamekeeper's Cottage" is where they would like to reside. I have also had much joy reconnecting with A Deer Cottage, and hosting guests at our bed and breakfast. I am very excited to see our youngest son this week for four days on a mini break from Waiouru and his Army training.

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Until next time, take care with regards Angela 🦌❤️🦌

a nd have loads more to tell you all, however I think I will leave "life back in New Zealand" in my next blog...

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