"Let's Encourage Tohoku with Mile Donation Project" Travel Memories Backnumber

The children bursting out in smiles in our trip to Okinawa

Thank you very much for the mileage gift, enabling my family of 6 to enjoy a joyful trip to Okinawa in the end of July.
2 years and 5 months past from the Great East Japan Earthquake, however, we are still suffering every day.
Being afraid of radiation exposure from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, my son's wife and my two grandchildren have evacuated to an apartment in Yamagata City. My son, who remained in Koriyama (Fukushima Prefecture) to work, has continued commuting to see his family in Yamagata City every weekend for the past 2 years. Now, my grandchildren are in elementary school and kindergarten in Yamagata City.

After the highway toll exemption for voluntary evacuees finally approved in May, 2013, my son has been relieved from highway fee payments, however, I had spent sleepless nights wondering whether this choice of separating 2 small boys, only 7 and 4 years old from their father was the right choice or not.
I am so grateful to my son's wife, who is doing her best under this difficult situation without a word of complaint, just saying "It's all a good experience, teaching me a lot." while also being overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of snow in Yamagata.
Then this surprise came. This was the first time ever for my son's family to visit Okinawa. My wish to take my grandchildren to "The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium", also matched with the others in deciding the destination, we took off to Okinawa as soon as the children's summer holidays begun. We all enjoyed touring around "The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium", "Nago Pineapple Park" and "World Heritage Nakijin Castle remains" as well as swimming at Kouri Island. Since my son and daughter-in-law are beer lovers, they enjoyed the locally-brewed Okinawan "Orion Beer" in cold jugs. We also enjoyed many local delicacies, especially Umibudo (Okinawan sea grapes), a local seaweed, also known as seaweed caviar.

My grandchildren were also excited, experiencing all sorts of transportations such as bullet trains, monorail, airplanes and rental cars. Immediately after returning home, they were saying "Let's go to Okinawa again!"

It was a really great trip for us. I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the JMB members who contributed to such a wonderful gift.

From Crazy about Flamenco
(Fukushima Prefecture/Age: 60's/Gender: Female)

Family reunion at Taketomi Island (Okinawa)!

Early on March 11th, my daughter, back home from Osaka to Miyagi Prefecture, to give birth to our very first grandchild went into labor. Admitted to Tohoku Kosai Hospital in Sendai at 11 am, we were struck by the earthquake at 2:43 pm. Contractions will not wait. After sunset, the hospital losing all power supplies was in total darkness. All cabinets in the delivery room had been set down on the floor to prevent it from collapsing due to the frequent strong aftershocks of the earthquake. With only a flashlight and portable phonocardiograph, thanks to the calm and confident midwives and nurses, our beautiful grandson was safely born at 2:40 am on the 12th, just 12 hours after the earthquake. Incidentally, we were interviewed by a local newspaper "Kahoku-Shinpo" and the article titled "Hope" along with his picture was issued on the 13th. It was also broadcasted on TBS News (TV) as well.

Our grandson, born under this circumstance has now become 2 years old, and is growing up actively in Osaka. Since Osaka is far away from our place, we can rarely see him. Luckily receiving the 100,000 miles, we immediately made plans for a family trip with our grandson. The destination was easily fixed, since I always wanted to visit Taketomi Island, where my daughter and her husband used to visit frequently when they were still going out. My daughter, her husband, and my son who now lives in Ibaraki Prefecture each made holiday adjustments, which made our family trip of six possible. Necessary miles to Ishigaki Airport was 19,000 miles per person, so the gift miles covered air tickets for the 5 of us.
At Ishigaki Island, we enjoyed paragliding, looking down at the beautiful coral-reefs. We enjoyed the luxurious slow flow of time with our grandson at Taketomi Island, a small island without any convenience stores or koban (neighborhood police station), but a beautiful island full of blooming flowers, beautiful red brick roof houses and white paths, and the emerald-green ocean. Listening to lots of interesting stories from the old couple who are running a guest house, and looking at the humorous Shisas (lion-dog) on the roof, guarding houses were all very wonderful.

For our family living separately in 3 different parts of Japan, travelling together is not an easy thing, which made this trip together an especially memorable one.
I would like to express my deep appreciation for the 100,000 miles donation realized by the JMB members who participated in "Let's Encourage Tohoku with Mile Donation Project".

From Yumippe,
(Tomiya Town, Kurokawa District, Miyagi Prefecture/Age: 50's/Gender: Female)

My astonishing journey to Chicago

My wife and I set off to Chicago to meet our daughter's family, especially to play with our 2 year and 9 month old princess granddaughter.
We stayed in Narita one night prior to departure in the end of June, and then took off to Chicago. I always look forward to watching in-flight movies and video programs, and enjoying in-flight meals. During the second meal service, I heard a family seated in the front row shout, "Wow, it's "Kumamon!". The main dish was "Taipien", a local delicacy of Kumamoto Prefecture comprised of Harusame bean thread noodles, deep-fried egg, chicken and lettuce served in a container with a picture of a bear, "Kumamon", the commercial character designated as the Kumamoto Prefecture's symbol. After finishing up with the noodles, you can put the grilled rice ball into the soup to make a risotto, which enables you to enjoy two different dishes in a single meal. Since it was so delicious, we were looking forward to having it again on our return flight, but unfortunately the menu was different.

After meeting our daughter's family at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, we headed for their home. Their place was about a 30 minute drive from the airport, in a very quiet housing estate located in a natural park with ponds, BBQ sites and even a frisbee course.

Since it was the longest daytime season in the year, the sky didn't get dark even after 9 pm. I was surprised to see so many people still in the park until late at night; probably people enjoying their most longing season after the long harsh winter. After dark, I saw a lot of small lights swaging in the park, and found that they were fireflies. Observing fireflies from the inside of the house was another surprise for me since they were much brighter, probably from their larger body size than the Japanese ones. On July 4, Independence Day, at home, with a can of beer in my hand, I also enjoyed the fireworks which were different from Japanese ones in size and shape, but surely entertaining.

Chicago is famous for its architectural aspect being called the city of beautiful architecture or the origin of skyscrapers. I visited Downtown Chicago and went up to the observatory on the 94th floor of the trapezoid shaped John Hancock Center, which was very impressive. I enjoyed looking down at the grandstand view of the skyscrapers, ocean-like Lake Michigan and the streetscape of Chicago, which were all so beautiful. I also heard that the sunset and night view is also magnificent, but we have decided to leave it for our next visit. Among all, the most impressive experience was cruising in Lake Michigan. Looking up the towering building blocks and movable bridges, the cruiser proceeded from Chicago River to the entrance of Lake Michigan, and then stopped at the lock for about 20 minutes. Since the water level of Lake Michigan is 50 cm higher than that of Chicago River, the level gap must be adjusted by opening and closing the lock to make transportation possible between the river and the lake. Originally, Chicago River flowed into Lake Michigan, but as the city grew larger, sewage and other pollution flowing into the Lake's clean-water source of the City, caused serious health problems and the spread of contagious diseases. To solve these problems, people reversed the water flow of Chicago River, connecting a canal near the Mississippi Valley, to let the water flow through the Mississippi River, and finally drain out into the Gulf of Mexico. The lock was made for this purpose, which is absolutely unthinkable under Japan's geographic and inclination conditions, but I was totally impressed with their wild idea of "Reversing the Chicago River flow to protect the water quality of Lake Michigan".

Watching the growth of my princess granddaughter during our one month stay, I received a lot of strength and joy from her as well as from America.
At this time, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the JMB members and JAL for the charity mile donation.

From Grandpa-sitter
(Akita-City, Akita Prefecture/Age: 60's/Gender: Male)

Sincere gratitude for our trip

Thanks to the generosity of so many JMB members and JAL, we were able to make a family trip to Okinawa.

When the earthquake struck, my daughter was still in kindergarten. The seashore is only a 5 minute drive away from our house, so we often enjoyed driving along the coast, playing, and swimming at the beach whenever the weather was nice. We thought of it as nothing special, just an "usual day event".

According to my daughter's hand-made itinerary for our 3-day holiday in Okinawa, we made specific plans very carefully.
My daughter's wishes were (1)swimming in the sea, (2)collecting seashells, and (3)making a traditional Shiisa craft, an Okinawan spiritual lion-dog shaped figure.

Due to time limitations, we were only able to color the Shiisa craft, but we decided to drive to a remote island beach for swimming.
The beach we saw was the most beautiful beach we had ever seen! As soon as we arrived, my daughter was so excited. We had to rent a swim ring for her since the one we brought from home got flat in a few minutes by deterioration.
After enjoying swimming with the swim ring, she picked up many seashells. My daughter was smiling all day through. The sounds of ocean waves, which I had not heard in the past few years was also comforting and pleasant.

That night, I bought a swim ring for my daughter at the supermarket AEON, and decided to extend our checkout time to enjoy the sea of Okinawa as long as possible.
I had a hard time taking my daughter home from the beach since she was repeatedly shouting "I don't want to go home!"
It was really a fulfilling 3 days. But the best of all was being able to see lots and lots of my daughter's smile.
On the way back from Okinawa, I separated from my family to see my friend who I hadn't seen for more than 10 years. At the time of the earthquake, she gave me a call worrying about us so much in a screaming voice. She had been trying to reach us by phone for a long time before we were finally connected. It was rather a short time, but I thanked her for her sympathies, we talked about the earthquake and other topics, catching up on how we had been doing.
I can't thank you enough for giving us such a great opportunity.
We will never ever forget this trip and your warmest hearts.

~A letter from her daughter ~
Dear all who gave us mileage
Thank you very much for giving us mileage. The trip was so fantastic. The sea of Okinawa was really beautiful. When I got into the sea, I was screaming with delight, having lots of fun.
Near the hotel, there was a place called American Village. So many Americans were there. It was just like a dream and really fun. Near the American Village, we also found the supermarket, AEON as well. We bought some food at AEON for dinner to eat at the hotel, and ate Umibudo (Okinawan sea grapes) and "octopus carpaccio". We also ate at a club with live music. Everything I ate was my favorite and really nice.
I even had ice cream 3 times! Sugar cane flavor, mint chocolate flavor and blue wave flavor, which were all wonderful!
I was happy to fly on a big plane from Osaka to Okinawa. The islands I saw from the plane were so beautiful. The fireworks I saw below me were so incredible. They looked small and colorful. Next time, I hope to fly on the 30 year anniversary Mickey Mouse designed airplane (=JAL Happiness Express).

From M.K.
(Miyagi Prefecture/Age: 40's/Gender: Female)

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