Sucking in Sakura

August 24

It was our last full day in Japan and we were too tired out from the previous day's adventure in Tokyo to take another shot at it, even with the promise of summer Kabuki beckoning. We turned inward and borrowed the family car for a final tour around Sakura.

The day started at Yac's (see Local Tour) and this time the baskets filled, the wallets opened, and the money flowed freely. It's such a quirky store I never regret picking up a few things from their broad product mix.

I also took the time to pop into a family owned sporting goods store up the street in search of an elusive pair of batting gloves for my youngest son. The visit was an example of small town shopping at its finest. Did they have less selection of batting gloves than the Sports Authority locations at the two malls we visited? Yes. Did they have the style and size of gloves we were looking for anyway? Yes. Did we receive personalized service unseen at SA, including having the package opened for us so that the gloves could be tried on? Of course. To top it off, we were offered a discount on the purchase without even asking.
Sakura Samurai Houses
Our next stop was the samurai homes of Sakura. I have blogged about them elsewhere, and wasn't sure how much I would get out of the visit on my third trip. Fortunately, I saw things I had forgotten about, viewed the gardens through fresh eyes, and was able to experience life in a samurai house during a heavy rainfall. The rain was beautiful and my eldest enjoyed having extra time with a kabuto mushi (rhinoceros beetle) he had befriended. Yes, I say befriended as he seemed to be interacting with it like a cat or dog owner would with a furry pet.
Kabuto Mushi
Hunger pangs convinced me to brave the rain and flood-like conditions to retrieve the car. I eventually escorted everyone to the vehicle by running back the extra umbrella for the next person. Wetter for the wear, but game for more activity, we proceeded to one of our favourite local restaurants only to find it closed for the day. From there, it was off to a gift shop and some box stores to make some purchases to complete everyone's wish lists. Errands done, we returned home for the last family dinner.

Without even trying, there is always something special about these family gatherings. Everyone senses it is the last dinner, more stories and memories are shared, and family bonds are strengthened and reinforced through some subtle alchemy that would fail should the effort be forced.

My youngest and I went for a short walk after dark and explored a part of the neighbourhood I had never seen before, despite the fact the route was but a short left turn away from home. We saw a community garden, unique houses (some traditional, some Western), and a view of the rice plain below we never knew existed. Solitary cars crossing bridges in the distance evoked feelings of loneliness, and after a long wait we managed to see a lit up train rattle by below. How many weeks and months have I stayed in this area without ever knowing this route? But for a desire for one last walk before leaving…

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