Shizuoka Surprises


This weekend I took a handful hoops on the Shinkansen to Shizuoka for a hoop picnic with Ellie and some of her local hooping crew. We had a fun afternoon getting silly in the spin. I had so much fun that I took no pictures or videos, as usual...

One of my Tokyo hooping friends, Arika, came up as well. Her family is from the area and it was a good excuse to visit. When she arrived at the park with her second cousins, Rina and Aki Ichikawa, she asked me if I'd like to come back to their house after for tea. Long story short, I ended up spending the night and crashing the family Obon feast the next day.

Three generations of the Makino family and an interloper

It was a treat to hang out with an family. Being a half of childless couple is a situation I love, but there is joy in the bustle of a three generation household hosting guests where cousins and sisters drop in. There was lots of back chat about how we'd get from point A to point B, phone calls made to arrange things, consternation over whether anything had actually been arranged, discussion of drink supplies, lots of laughter and endless talk.

The Ichikawas are a very talented family. Yoshiharu is an architect, Mayumi paints, Rina plays piano and dances and Aki is a budding actress. Sachiko, at 79, keeps everything together. Her husband, Seiji, is currently in Cambodia visiting a aid project he's part of.

Eri, me and Rina with hoops in the rotary near Kusunagi station

We watched TV, played in the park, hooped in the rotary, and had conversations in Japanese and English (sometimes simultaneously). I was treated to a peach crepe in the family's cafe, ate four homecooked meals that I didn't have to prepare, borrowed pajamas from Mayumi, dried the dishes, and tried to participate as much as possible while simultaneously not causing any trouble. Ha!

I learned all sorts of things over the weekend. Thanks to some entertaining and educational TV shows, I finally know the difference between atsuage and aburaage, which are both deep fried tofu. And I learned about the subtypes of DNA that Japanese have - none of which originated in Japan (Take that, Japanese racists, your genes were made in China and Korea).

Cousins Aki and Eri napping on the engawa after lunch

On Sunday, I was moved to tears when Rina played a valse on the piano for me. I had a session of Ito Thermie, which blends elements of moxibustion, shiatsu and acupuncture into one treatment. What a lovely and relaxing therapy practiced by Mayumi's twin, Hiromi. At the same time, I learned a new word that will be very useful for hooping - tanden 丹田 - the energy center just below the belly button that corresponds to the 2nd chakra.

Buildings in the Makino family's farm complex

Then we drove out to the center of the family love - a mikan farm currently owned by the 4th generation of the Makino family. I met more than 20 members of the family including Arika's parents and siblings, paid my respects at the family altar, ate delicious foods from farm fresh produce, and mapped out the Makino genealogy after the Obon feast.

The Makino butusdan with Obon offerings

On the way home on the Shinkansen with Arika and Haruki after one last dinner at the Ichikawa's, we made as much happy noise as possible by being frightened by ghosts outside the train and pulling faces. (Next time you see Haruki or Arika, ask them to show you buta megane, pig glasses.)

It was the sort of weekend where, on returning home, you wonder that only 36 hours have passed. It felt like a week. Thank you, Ellie for organising the hoop picnic and getting me out of Tokyo, and Arika for keeping me away. I was very happy!


You were so lucky to hang out with a Japanese family all weekend. What a treat!!

Loved reading about it all....

Nice post! Brought back memories of my days in Japan. As for hooping vocabulary I think a lot of martial arts terms might be relevant. Can I presume you already know koshi?

Wow - what an awesome weekend.. made all the more special as it was so impromptu.

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Recent Comments

  • The Goddess: Wow - what an awesome weekend.. made all the more read more
  • Sara A: Nice post! Brought back memories of my days in Japan. read more
  • astrorainfall: You were so lucky to hang out with a Japanese read more