Saying Goodbye to Dana

Dana's year in Japan has ended. It was a real pleasure to have her here in Kumamoto and we are very sorry to see her go. Every indication I have is that Dana did an exemplary job here. Her colleagues are clearly very fond of her. I was very impressed with Dana's appreciation of the positive aspects of her experience and the good humor and maturity with which she put the not-so-positive aspects in perspective. The young woman that will come after Dana is fortunate because Dana has taken care to put everything at work and in her apartment in order -- including a detailed manual with all of the information her successor will need to pick up where Dana left off. On the other hand, Dana has done so well that she will be a tough act to follow.

I spent Friday night at Dana's house. Before we left the following morning, Dana's neighbor and colleague Mrs. Matsushita came out to say goodbye.
Before we drove out of town, Dana took me to a couple of her favorite places. This picture was taken on the observation deck in Tsurubayama Park. It's a great place but not well known. You have to drive through some incredibly narrow, steep mountainous roads to get to the park. Dana said that she has told her colleagues, long-term Ushibuka residents, about it but most of them have never been there -- or even heard about it before.
The tide was unusually high. This picture was taken in Tsurubayama Park. It is the place where a large fish fell from the sky and landed near Dana and Markus (ask them about this). By the way, Dana also took me to Mogushi Beach but we didn't take any pictures there.
After we left Ushibuka, we drove to the home of Dana's friend, Anna. I mentioned to Anna that I was interested in going to a nice hot spring spa (onsen) and Anna said she knew a great place.
Anna was nice enough to come with us to Yurakutei, a wonderful spa where you bathe inside caves like this one.
Anna and Dana after their bath.
After a full day of driving, sightseeing, and bathing, we arrive home in Kumamoto. Cheese was wondering how much longer she would need to wear this hat that Mia had made for her.
Sunday morning breakfast. Dana's shirt says "Ushibuka Spirt" -- a gift from her colleagues.
Here's Dana with two of her favorite colleagues. Akiko Yamaguchi is on the left. She was Dana's tantosha (advisor). She really did a lot for Dana. Thanks Akiko Sensei! Yuko Fukuda is on the right. She teaches at another school where Dana taught. Dana got tickets for Akiko and Yuko to see "Lion King" in Fukuoka.
After having coffee with Akiko and Yuko, Mrs. Matsushita arrived. Mrs. Matsushita is really full of life and made everyone laugh.
After everyone left, Mariko and I did some shopping. It just happened that some bags made of handwoven bamboo were on sale.
This is the bag that Mariko bought. It is very special because it is the last bag made by the craftsman before he passed away. Younger craftsmen make similar bags but no contemporary bag makers weave this kind of pattern, which requires the use of bamboo strips of different widths.