Another day, another adventure.
We woke up to a gray and dreary day. The rain started before we finished breakfast, but we were not going to let that deter us. Armed with jackets and umbrellas, we set out to explore the area around our hotel. We couldn't go too far afield because we had to be back at the train station by 12:30-ish for a commitment south of town.
We walked through some shops, just browsing - there will be plenty of shopping opportunities. Soon we came to consensus that we should have an early lunch and stopped in a local ramen shop. Even though it was not quite 11:30, the place was busy and it quickly became apparent why. It was delicious.
Next Dennis and Steve went back to the hotel to see if our bags had been delivered and if Dennis and Kathy got the room change they had requested. Everything was done. The Kathys and Gramma did a little more exploring and everyone met up again at 12:30.
An hour train ride took us to Shiroishi where Steve had been asked to help at an adult English language club. When he had been asked to participate, he told them that he would have family visiting. The people in charge immediately told him that his family would be welcome and encouraged to join in. The first part of the meeting was business - planning their events for the coming year. Then everyone separated into groups, each group with several Japanese speakers and one or two native English speakers. The idea was just to talk about anything. The Japanese wanted to improve their English. They were so welcoming and friendly, it was truly a pleasure talking with them.
As a thank you to us, we were then taken on a tour of their local castle. The building we saw was reconstructed in 1995. There was a point in Japanese history where it was decreed that each prefecture could have only one castle and the Shiroishi castle was destroyed in 1874. The people of Shiroishi felt it was important to pass down their culture and rebuilt an historically accurate castle. As far as castles go, this is a fairly small one. To get to the top floor, we had to climb some very steep stairs. They were probably built so steeply to slow down invaders. They certainly slowed us down. A storm had blown away the clouds and the views were beautiful.
Finally, it was time to head back to Sendai. I once heard a saying that if you are waiting for a train in Japan and it is late, reset your watch. The trains in Japan are never late - until today. While we had been at the English Club meeting, a wild rain and wind storm blew though and caused train delays. Our train was delayed about 30 minutes which gave us more time to visit with the locals.
An hour train ride and we were back in Sendai, dinner and an early return to the hotel.