Mark and Mika Take on the WORLD!!! travel blog

Who sticks out in this family pix?

Enjoying shyabu-shyabu home cooked meal

Marine snails for dinner, anyone?

Trying out old Japanese stilts

Viscious ancient Japanese warriors!

Plum blossoms at full bloom

Mika's china-doll niece

She's the best part of our visit

Washing hands before entering the temple

Any family resemblance?

Playing umbrella

Mika's brother and his family

Family reunions are always so stressful. Mika's stomach was all in knots as we headed towards Fukuoka, Japan. The last time she was in Japan was 18 years ago. Back then, Mika was 16 years old, and her brother was in his senior year of high school. Her dad was remarried, and he had another daughter, Mika's 6 year old half-sister. This time upon returning to Japan, Mika's dad was remarried for the 3rd time to a young, 28 year-old woman. (She seems to be doing really well keeping Mika's dad in check...heehee). Her brother is also married, and the only 6 year-old running around the house is Mika's adorable niece, Chihiro. Mika's dad made arrangements for us to experience Japan in full. We tasted all sorts of expensive, and exotic dishes - like live glass fish swimming in a clear broth. Apparently the proper way to eat these fish is by gulping them down as if we were taking a shot. We also had marine snails, and various types of rare shashimi not found anywhere else but only in Japan. Each meal must have cost several hundred dollars. The wine we drank each night cost that much as well. Mika's dad, being a director of a neurological hospital in Japan, spends money as if it grows on trees. It's really as if he lives in a different universe from us. We definitely enjoyed living in the limelight. But the best part of the trip was getting to know the family again.

Mika's dad made plans for us to meet everybody - her uncles, cousins, half-sister, brother, name it! She was so used to having a family of two (her and her mom), and during our time in Japan, she relished meeting the rest of her long-lost family. It was a great success! The best part was getting to know her niece, Chihiro. The last time we saw her was 3 years ago at our wedding. She was so shy at the time. Now, she is full of energy, her shyness is a thing of the past. She wouldn't part from our sides during our entire visit. We had a blast playing with her. On the day Mika's sister-in-law dropped us off at the airport, we were running a bit late and were about to miss our plane. Chihiro wouldn't let go us and kept her arms wrapped around our necks. She was very upset and crying. We had to pry her arms off and take off. It was a quick good-bye, but perhaps it was better that day. We can't wait until we see her again, and we plan to make our visits to Japan more frequent. If we wait too long, she will be all grown up before we know it. Hopefully we will not have to wait another 18 years before we go back.

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