As I am writing this blog entry, Joanne, Kanae Meshino-san, Hiro Yoshida-san (KEEP staff) , Awazawa-san an official representative of Hokuto City and I are on the bus headed toward Narita to pick up the rest of the Madison County Delegation. Awazawa-san was a member of the Hokuto City delegation to Madison County in May.
The other 18 delegates will be “fresh” from an almost 13-hour plane ride from Chicago. Of course, they had left Richmond before dawn on Monday, October 11, to catch their 6:30 flight from Lexington to Chicago. After we meet them at Narita, they will still have a four-hour bus ride to Hokuto City and Seisen-ryo. That means those of us meeting them will have spent a total of eight hours on the bus today.
The delegation members we meeting include Jim and Sandy Clark, James and Julie Dantic, Randy and Cheryl Stone, Vi Farmer, Meena Mohanty, Patrick Kelleher, Beth Blanchard, Brian Ragsdale, James Rusch, Susan Mullins, Dinah Tyree, Steve Farmer, Jeff Farmer, Bobby Craig Thompson and Ruthie Lamb
Jim Clark is the executive director of government relations at EKU and Sandy is retired. James Dantic is the Director of the Model Laboratory School at EKU and his wife Julie is a nurse. Randy Stone is City Administrator in Berea and Cheryl is the retired direction of EKU’s Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Training. Vi Farmer is a member of the Berea City Commission and was instrumental in the creation, first of Berea’s partnership with Takane and later with Madison County’s sister region arrangement with what is now Hokuto City. Meena Mohanty is a public defender and daughter of retired EKU sociology professor Dr. Amiya Mohanty., Patrick Kelleher is a physician from Berea. Beth Blanchard is the Director of International Student Services at EKU. Brian Ragsdale is an EKU graduate who has his own computer software business and was an exchange student at Yamanashi University, our Japanese partner institution.
James Rusch may be the star of the delegation. He is the only non-Madison Countian; coming from Louisville. He is the nephew of Dr. Paul Rusch who was the force behind the Kiyosato Experimental Education Project. He passed away in 1979 and is revered by the Japanese in the Yatsugatake Highlands. I am anxious to see the Japanese reaction to him. He bears a striking resemblance to his late uncle.
Susan Mullins the visiting artist and will remain in Japan the week following the delegation’s departure to teach in the area schools. She is a Native American and an artist of diverse talents.
Dinah Tyree, Steve and Jeff Farmer, Bobby Craig Thompson and Ruthie Lamb are the traditional craftsperson part of the delegation.
Yesterday, Joanne, Kanae, Jennifer Corwin, and I returned to KEEP after two days in Kofu. Seisen-ryo was completely booked for the weekend, so we made the excursion south. Sunday, Joanne and I spent a delightful day with our good friends Kiyomi and Noriko Ueya. You can see them mentioned in my Japanese blogs from earlier years. Kiyomi is a distinguished professor and they spent a year in Kentucky when he taught at EKU as an exchange professor. With them, we visited Zenkoji Temple in Kofu, had a wonderful lunch of yakiniku at a mountainside wine village, toured a winery, drove to Lake Kawaguchi, one of the five lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji, and enjoyed a conomiyaki dinner back in Kofu.
Later that afternoon, we had the real pleasure of hearing a Japanese orchestra play Dvorak’s “The New World” as part of the Yatsugatake music series in a very nice music hall in Takane. It was an emotional experience to hear Japanese musicians play with such gusto a piece written about America.
Back in room 201 of the old lodge, which has a remarkable charm, I took the below photograph from our bedroom window.
NOTE: We are now approaching Tokyo on our way back from Narita toward Seisen-ryo. Everyone arrived safely on their three different flights (one each on two and 16 on the third). A light supper will await them at Seisen-ryo and a good night’s sleep before a whirlwind five days start tomorrow.