After breakfast with Otousan and Okaasan Saturday morning, I moved my belongings to Yamate and then immediately left for Zushi, a town just south of Kamakura, where my former boss from NTT lives.
The Ohta family: Kazuo, Shoko, Airi. Ohta-san is my boss from when I worked at NTT doing cryptography research. He later went to MIT for a year as a visiting researcher, and just this year returned to MIT for another year. In fact they were leaving the next weekend after I visted, and were very busy with preparations. I was lucky to be able to see them before they left, and it was very nice of them make lunch for me and spend some time talking.
The Ohtas in front of their house when I left.
Typically I visit the Ohtas around lunch time on a weekend or holiday, and then return to Neil and Naoko's place for a party of sorts with some mutual friends. Neil is well known as an excellent cook and always makes fantastic Thai food. Unfortunately by the time I get there everyone else has finished eating.
Neil and Naoko Limpanukorn's new place in Yamate. They lived in a very nice two bedroom apartment in Yamate for many years, but this year with the birth of their daughter Kana they decided to move to a bigger place, this three bedroom apartment, also in Yamate, which is just amazing. Fortunately Neil's company pays for most of the rent. They had just moved there a couple months earlier and this was the first time I saw the place. This photograph and the next two were taken on a later day; it was raining the day I arrived, which with luggage was not much fun.
I took this picture to try to give a feel for the typical back road in Japan, but it's not entirely successful. This is a two-way street with sidewalks on both sides. Walking on these streets is quite frightening as you can't see far and drivers are very aggressive.
A steep hill (no cars allowed here) on the way to Neil and Naoko's place, which is at the top of the tallest hill in Yamate. Pictures are never good at showing just how steep hills are, and this one is quite steep, probably over 30% grade in places, and perhaps impossible to bicycle up. Strangely, even though their new place is higher up than the previous apartment was, the climb didn't seem as strenuous, probably because the steepest section here is just a slope, whereas the other one was even steeper and made up of stairs.
At the party at Neil and Naoko's place. On the right is Naoko and her daughter Kana. The other four are the Asano family--the husband Hiroshi holding their second son Shun, the wife Maki, and the first son Ryou playing video games.
Neil has an excercise bike that among other things measures your fitness. You attach a sensor to your ear which measures heartrate, and you have to maintain cadence (around 50-60rpm I think) while the machine increases the difficulty progressively over about a 9 minute period. It then scores you (adjusted for age and sex) from 1 to 10. I of course had to try it out, and was shocked to only get a 6! I hadn't cycled for a couple months, but I'd done so much over the summer that I expected to do better.
Maki tried after me and her heartrate seemed so low that I tried to distract her so she wouln't beat my score. Unfortunately something went wrong and there was an error, and her score never registered. This is her on the bike, with Neil and Kana standing next to her.
A few other people tried but no one managed to get a very high score. I tried again, this time wearing shoes, which increased my efficiency greatly. This time I got a 9, which seemed good enough. Maki and Ryo (who tried even though the age input starts at 10 and he's 7) are next to me.
Everyone together at the end of the party. Aside from those already identified are a woman who also happens to be named Kana, and Neil's co-worker Greg.