Our freshman year in Tokyo is now behind us and it is time for summer vacation. Thinking back on the last ten months, I realize that even though it was like moving to the moon, it felt somewhat familiar. Yes, we had lived here before but the familiar aspects were more reticent of freshman year in high school or college. You move to a completely new environment, knowing no one, having no idea where you get a cup of coffee or buy notebooks, where the closest movie theater is or how to get downtown the fastest, and then month by month, you meet friends, you branch out, you get lost a few times and then you find your way. And the people you meet, they are in the same boat as you are. And so you form friendships that are meaningful in a different way than you may have back home. You survived and they survived with you. After the two back to back trips out of the city, I wanted the last week at home to be packed with Tokyo experiences shared by the people I have come to know and love. Some of whom will not return in the fall. They are off to another city, another country, another adventure. A highlight of the last weekend was a Yakatabune boat trip. These boats, often called junks hold about 40 people. They cruise up and down the Sumida River which runs through Tokyo and they serve tempura and sashimi and unlimited beer, sake and other assorted beverages. The guests sit on the tatami floor and eat off the low tables while singing karaoke and marveling at the sights outside the floor to ceiling windows that line the boat. There are small colored lanterns that hang from the sides of the boat and on any given summer evening you will see loads of them plying up and down the river. I reserved one on Saturday night and our friends and their friends enjoyed a wonderful evening of laughing and singing and drinking and eating. We also celebrated Father’s Day last weekend as we won’t be with Tom on the actual day. The day started off when Tom visited an onsen, then met us for brunch and then a swim in the pool in our apartment. At around 5, we left our apartment and walked to a Yakult Swallows professional baseball game. The stadium is about a mile away and when we arrived the sun was still out but it was breezy and the game was about to start. We ate gyoza and chicken on a stick, hot dogs on a stick, beef over rice and Baskin Robbins ice cream cones. There was lots of screaming and umbrella waving in the 7th inning and other assorted strange traditions that we weren’t quite sure of. But we stayed to the end, even though our team got shut out (you sit on the side of the stadium designated for your team and only cheer when they are at bat). It was the perfect Father’s Day (missing one kid – who we will reunite with this Friday at 7:30 pm and we are very excited, can you tell?) I haven’t decided whether I will continue this blog in the U.S. over the summer but if I don’t, I’ll be back for Sophomore year!