After the stadium we were rushed off to a lovely Rifu orchard to pick nashi pears. The Japanese are all about different places being "famous" for things, and apparently Rifu is famous for its pears. They were indeed delicious, and although we were only allowed to pick two each...
... my mad peeling skills earned third place in a pear-peeling competition and we got an additional two pears to take home as a prize.
We put them to good use too, baking a pear pie in our friend and neighbour Jill's oven (we don't have one, you may recall) for an Izumi picnic a few days later.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. At the orchard we met our host family for the weekend, who apparently do this sort of thing a lot. They had another couple staying with them at the same time, Chong from Singapore and Kimuchi from Japan, who they met through the homestay program years earlier. They had a very cute toddler called Mimi chan.
Our host family were a lovely Japanese couple who insisted we call them Mama and Papa Endo. They threw a really nice dinner party for us and invited some of their friends. Mama Endo spoke really good English, which she learned from listening to American radio stations, and Papa Endo was very patient with our inept fumblings with the Japanese language. Communication was made though, many beers were drunk, and I ate some raw octopus. It was so fun we forgot to take any pictures.
The next day we went to a festival, where we rode the bullet train.
Haha fooled you! That's not the real bullet train! The poor kid behind me copped an elbow to the head just before this photo was taken. I didn't see him get in, and the seats are clearly not meant for tall, oafish foreigners. He seemed okay but I felt pretty bad about it.
After the train we took Mimi to see the Anpanman stage show. Anpanman is a very popular children's cartoon character. He is made of bread, and from what I could tell, fights mildly-evil-doers and dances around a lot. The black and purple thing had some kind of laser gun that turned people into flowers, but Anpanman stopped him. Luckily.
The mayor of Rifu himself guided us to some special seats at the front, and after the show he introduced us to the audience, who clapped politely but ambivalently. We sheepishly escaped as fast as we could.
This is some of the gang. Mama Endo is fourth from the left, next to Mirabel. Papa Endo had to work over the weekend, so, in lieu of a proper portrait, we snapped a picture of a picture. He likes to fish.
They were a very sweet couple and they invited us back sometime. They were so nice!