So this last week was New Years, as I'm sure you know, and with it came the shutdown of all of Japan! Seriously, New Years in Japan is bigger than the World Cup in Brazil! So, there wasn't much opportunity to get a lot of dendo done, but we managed to make do with what we had.
Last prep day we went to Himeji to check out the castle. Himeji Jo is probably the most famous castle in all of Japan. Most of "The Last Samurai" was actually filmed around Himeji. From the eki you have to walk a good 10 minutes to the castle and after doing so we found that it was actually closed--Entirely! for New Years. We also found that the main part of the castle is closed 'til late March due to cleaning and reconstruction. I may never have the chance to go into a real castle while in Japan. We ended up chilling in Himeji and going to a couple stores.
Tuesday was probably the most productive day I've had in a while. We biked to Aioi to visit some people and the branch president actually called us over to the house of the guy he referred to us. We ended up having a lesson with him, and also tried visiting another LA around the neighborhood. Then we biked out even further to Tatsuno. It's another 20km bike ride--like Mitsu--but it's all flat. There we visited the family we teach English at and had dinner with them. We really just wanted to talk to the father who's LA, but when you visit people in Japan it's hard to get out of eating with them. We also tried to visit a few LA in Tatsuno, but since we don't have navigation on the new phones yet, it wasn't very successful. Then there came the long bike ride back to Ako!
The next day was obviously New Years Eve, so basically you can't really dendo because everyone's preparing for New Years. One of the families in the branch invited us over for lunch and we spent some time with them.
Then New Years, so basically you can't really dendo because everyone's celebrating New Years. In the morning, though, we participated in 初日の出、(Hatsu Hinode) the first sunrise of the year. We got up early and ran to and climbed up this "mountain" near our apartment. Up there a lot of people were also celebrating the first sunrise on 2015. They were also very surprised to see a bunch of gaijin up there. We got some really great pictures of the sunrise, had lots of fun with the locals, and ran home in the snow. Yes, it started snowing. Just a little bit, though. Later that day we had a shokuji with the branch president's family in Aioi. He planned to have us over for a couple hours because there's literally nobody on the street (more so than usual) and nobody answers their door on O-Shogatsu. But, in Aioi, the snow was starting to really pile up, and they live on a hill, so they cut it short to get us back to the eki.
Lastly, on Sunday, we had a lesson for the first time in three weeks or so with the lady who talks about WWII. We didn't have time to ask anyone to doseki because we had another dendo fireside following church. As expected she tried to give us back the Book of Mormon we gave her last time. We saw that she had already read up to Alma! We asked why she couldn't keep it, and she said "because it's filled with God's words!" We explained to her that's exactly why we want to share it with her and everyone else in the world. She decided to keep it! Score one for the Word of God!
It would be a very happy new year if Oregon won!