Joanne and I are into the fourth day of our visit to Japan. We left Richmond at 4 a.m. Friday (Oct 1) morning, escorted by the apparently willing Joey Foster, who volunteered to take us to the airport. If I had a decent bone in my body, I would have refused his offer.
We have become accustomed to the trip over; or as accustomed as one can get to a 13 hour flight. Getting through Japanese immigration and customs, changing money, and the bus ride to our downtown (Shinjuku Hilton) hotel took us three hours and put us at the hotel at 6 p.m. Tokyo time. That was 5 a.m. at home and, at that point, we had been up for 29 hours. After a light meal, we slept well.
Sunday, we did a little exploring and spotted one of many of the ubiquitous golden signs of American culture in Tokyo.
That evening we took the Chikatetsu (Tokyo subway) to the Rippongi Itchome station where we were met by EKU grad Kirby Easterling who walked us to his home. There we spent some delightful time with wife Teresa, also an EKU alum, and their three daughters, Kourtney, Kassidy, and Kennedy. Kirby and Teresa are originally from Pikeville and in what they think is the last year of a three-year tour in Tokyo where Kirby is a senior executive (Global Planning Manager) with Corning. That evening we dined with Kirby and Teresa at the Panic, which he described as a famous Tokyo teppanyaki restaurant. Famous or not, the 24-seat place was wonderful with all the cooking done in front of us by a husband and wife team. Kirby and Teresa posed by the “sign.” Afterward, it was back to their home for Teresa’s wonderful homemade peanut butter pie.
Monday, we made our third visit to Rikkyo University. I believe we have made some headway in our efforts to make this fine institution our first partner in Tokyo. As before, my friend Herbert L. Donovan III proved invaluable in making introductions. Since our trip in May 2009, they have a new president and almost every other officer in the institutional leadership has changed. With Herb’s help, we visited with President Tomoya Yoshioka, Executive Board member and Vice President, Dr. Jong Won Lee, Professor Koichiro Matsuda, Director of the Center for International Studies, Ruriko Sasaki, Administrative Director for the Center for International Studies and the Rev. Professor Renta Nishihara, a member of the Executive Board and Vice President. The message that Herb had planted strongly before our arrival and I repeated is this: Rikkyo has some very fine American institutions as partners. These include both public and private research institutions and private liberal arts colleges. They do not have a comprehensive public university on their list of partners and I have one identified for them. It is the one that has a list of accomplishments that is unique among all American universities. Take a look at www.eku.edu if you know not of what I speak. We exchanged our standard draft initial agreements and I truly believe we will have a new partner in Japan before too much more time passes. Here Joanne and I stand with Herb (far left) and Professor Matsuda.
That evening, we had a delightful tempura dinner with Jiro Hashimoto and his lovely wife Kumiko. Jiro has been Kentucky’s economic development person in Japan for the past 25 years. Next week, when we will still be in Japan, he will be in Kentucky working to help bring another new business hopefully to Madison County. We will see Kumiko, a member of the Paul Rusch Society, next week at the Paul Rusch Yatsugatake County Fair (see blogs from two years ago)
This morning, Tuesday, Joanne and I went a few blocks from our hotel to the bus stop in front of the Nishi Shinjuku Building to catch the bus to Seisen-ryo. Take a look at my blog from two years ago for the background on this remarkable facility that is a dream brought to fruition by the late Paul Rusch, a Kentuckian from Louisville. It is part of KEEP (Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project). I am a new member of the American Committee for KEEP and tomorrow I will participate in my first joint meeting of the ACK and KEEP boards. I hope this will lead to significant service opportunities and international experiences for EKU students.
This part of our stay at Seisen-ryo will be in the new lodge. Next week, we will be in the most rustic, but every charming original lodge. The three pretty ladies in this photo are Charlotte Troutvetter, 10 month old daughter of Jennifer Corwin Trautvetter and her husband Bob, Kanae Meshino and my bride of 42-years today (it’s our anniversary), Joanne.
Next week, the balance of the sister region delegation from Madison County will join Joanne and me here. In between, I have three days of board meetings and the weekend to enjoy in nearby Kofu, home of our existing Japanese partner institution, Yamanashi University.
Jaa matta ato de.