Although it's been 2 months, the memory of Akiko-san (our Japanese coordinator) telling us about the survey JICE will be sending is still fresh in my mind. (She said to answer it no matter what the cost because the emails will continuously be re-sent; reminded me of a Howler) Fast forward to yesterday, JICE sent us the obligatory post-trip survey we'd need to complete. Nothing like that to remind me of how a crappy blogger I've been! Really, has it been that long? But I mean, if Tricia Gosingtian can blog about her travel from four months back, why can't I? (feeling Tricia G levels)
So our fourth day saw us at Mobara City Hall for a courtesy call. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip since we got to know a bit about Mobara City and took a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture.
Can you believe this is their city hall?! Looks like a hotel, right?
Siyempre, photo op muna while waiting outside. Here's tita Rose with the Miss-so Soup candidates. I will never forget Tita Rose's face when she found out Peej was a beshy. "Peejay? I never expected you!"
The ladies of the Mobara International Friendship Association welcomed us. They showed us some facets of Japanese culture such as the tea ceremony and ikebana (flower arranging).
Before you drink tea, you're given sweets to counteract the bitterness of the tea. I'm a sweet tooth but they were too sweet for me. The others ate theirs right away while I found it prudent to save mine.
Good thing I did because the tea was really bitter! I was able to finish it though! What I noticed was that their tea was creamier and thicker than the ones I'm used to (which is tea from tea bags). HAHA. Drink some legit Japanese tea? Check!
Some beautiful ikebana.
Some interesting facts about Mobara: Filipinos make up most of the foreigners living in Mobara. In fact, we were able to meet one! Another is that one of the best (and most popular) Cherry Blossom viewing sites is Mobara Park. Mobara is, afterall, only about an hour's drive away from Tokyo.
Here I am with Bea and Trix
The girls of Room 506 with ate Josh #roomiepic
With my lovies, Congressman/Tita Peej (who reminds me so much of my cousin Benj) and Miss-so Soup, Duane!
and of course, the whole group!
After the ceremonies, we went around the offices of the City Hall. I didn't take photos but take it from me, the City Hall looks more like a hospital than the City Halls I'm used to. There were hardly any people OR lines and the Japanese were still at work. I swear, their work ethic is commendable.
It seems like every place in Japan had a mascot. I think it's a good way to remember the city/place, as well as boost the people's morale. For Mobara, the mascot was called Mobarin. Everyone was interested in getting some merchandise displayed at the City Hall so we were ushered into a room while we bought. I got a Mobarin key chain with mirror :) The porgy-shaped lantern I'm holding is called chochin and is one of the handicrafts of Mobara. One or two were "raffled" off.
After visiting City Hall, we had lunch at a Japanese resto. But before that, outfit pictorial session muna with Queenie. My roommate indulges me too much =))
After lunch, we were due to visit the Sanitation Center. My Chem Eng'g self was pretty excited to see this because it's something we don't have locally
until I found out the others got to go to a Chocolate Factory! Huhu. The sanitation center was put up with a collaborative effort of the citizens of 7 cities. It's basically an incinerator where all the trash you can't compost or recycle go. The Japanese really follow this to the T. I've had the experience of seeing Kanako, my host mother, really keep her milk cartons and newspapers for recycling. And we were told that if you had additional waste (every household has an allotted amount), you had to bring the waste to the center yourself AND pay for it. Outside the center, they had a board with the volumes of harmful gases they release into the air for monitoring. The numbers were low and hardly any smoke was coming out! Beforehand, we were warned about the smell but we didn't even smell anything. The sanitation center was clean; parang di pagtapunan ng basura. It really was commendable! On the way home, almost everyone had the same thought in mind, why couldn't we do this in the Philippines? We don't have to wait for a mandate. Let's just cooperate.