Japan Trip 2009 Part 1 - Funeral

It is unfortunate but also inevitable fact that our parents will pass away someday. My mom has been ill since June last year, and her condition was getting worse for the past couple of weeks. With concern that I might have to go home again soon, I negotiated to get an exception to borrow a company cell phone on Jan 19th to keep. I also started to pack on 24th so I can go home at the moments of notice. These days, it's just hard to read emails from my dad, which update my brother and me everyday, because they are so heartbreaking...

Last night, on Jan 27th around 10:40pm, my dad called me to let me know that my mom passed away around 10:00am in Japan time. Earlier in the evening, I got a call from him and being told mom's blood pressure is very low and the hospital asked him to come, so I was mentally prepared by then. I logged on the internet and placed an order for a round trip airplane tickets, called him back and told my itinerary. I also made reservation at a parking facility nearby the airport to save some money. Finished most of packing before I go bed around midnight. At the bed, I was looking back the past six months, which I made total of 5 trips to Japan. Not too long since the last time I met her in January 4th and shook hands. Now, it's time to say goodbye to her...

2009/01/28-29 Going to Japan

To the office

I woke up at 5:45am, looked outside and guessed that we had about half to one inch of snow; 17F outside. I took care of the dishes left at the kitchen, checked the net for the weather condition. It seems to be that there is a winter weather advisory in place, and radio is reporting a lot of accidents on the road. Since the snow fall is expected to continue until noon, I need to be very careful when I go to work, and to the airport today. Finished packing finally, and set the temperature on the thermostat to the lowest. Since we already had a plenty of snow fall, I decided to move my car closer to the apartment entrance for easier loading. On the way to the office, the road was slippery so I had to drive with care. Took me a lot longer than usual so arrived at office at 9:30am. Notified my mother's passing away to my supervisor, and filled out a form for a bereavement leave, which I can get up to three days, and I added few more days from my paid vacation. I plan to come back to the U.S. on the 8th next month. While in the office, I did not tell anybody else about my mom. I wanted to leave quietly today.

To the airport (Office - Airport)

I stayed at office until 11:20am, print out itinerary and parking reservation form, then headed out after packing my PC and company cell phone into my backpack. The snow has stopped but the road was not cleared yet. I was quite nervous when I drove off the parking. The ramp to the freeway was hard to keep my car on the road, and most part of the road had only one of three lanes is visible. I joined the traffic from I-96 east to I-275 south, soon I saw a car about 50m ahead of me suddenly skidded out from the lane and hitting the side railing. The car did not look like sustaining a serious damage but I no time to check on the rear view mirror. Everybody else not stopping and I needed to concentrate on my driving. I must get to the airport in a single piece! I slowed down to change to I-94 east to go to Middle Belt road, I was driving around 40mph and joined the lane for exiting. There was a car speeding past on my left, but ended up crashing into a pile of snow ahead. The ramp off the freeway was also snow covered so I kept going very slow. I arrived to the parking few minutes after the noon. I drove to a vacate lot and parked my car. My car might need a car wash when I come back... Getting my bags out and waited for the shuttle to pick me up.

Much snow left on the road and has no choice on the lane White Saturn shown at the center was span when trying to get out by force

Get a ride to the airport. Since this time I am using Northwest Airlines, the shuttle has to go to south end so it took longer than usual. I did not have a dollar bill with me so I could not give the driver a tip, made me feel bad. Walked up several levels to go to the check in counter. Northwest had a couple of staffs speaking Japanese so it was weird. Checked my bags, joined a line for the security screening around 12:20pm. It was pretty quick going through and entered the terminal. I wanted to eat lunch before the flight so I looked up the directory and walked toward a Quizno's for a sub. I also bought a couple of bottled water for the flight. After finished eating, I walked into a book store to buy some magazines, and also a pack of chewing gums (my in flight dental care...). I arrived at the gate A36 at 1:30pm, I found a plug that I can power my PC so I decided to work on the blog and also assignments. I have about one more hour before the boarding...

To Nagoya: NW71 DTW(3:30pm EST) - NGO(7:00pm JST on 28th)

NW71 at Detroit Airport Not many people in the cabin...

The boarding started from 2:30pm but only seen about 20 people gathered at the gate. I started to think, is that all the people going? After going through a quick passport check, I was sitting in the seat by 3:00pm. As I thought, the entire cabin looked like a ghost plane. We get to take up a entire row for each person. The plane closed the doors at 3:15pm then pushed back at 3:25pm. The plane started its engines, and began heading to the runway. Because we had some snow over the morning, the plane was blowing off the snow from ground as moving forward. The plane reached the north end of a runway then started to accelerate. It took off to south at 3:45pm, turning around clockwise going around Willow Run airport and heading north. In about 15 minutes, I could see the plane flew by my apartment, and kept going up north.

Blowing up snow as it taxies Departing DTW
Detroit Airport Willow Run Airport (3:45pm)

The dinner was served at 5:30pm, this is my first time using Northwest, and I was already getting bored due to lack of entertainment. The options given were listening to the music, or watching movies showing on the monitor located in several places in the cabin. The dinner was teriyaki chicken. After the dinner, they lowered the most of the window shades but since there are so few people in the plane, no one cared of me watching outside. I was watching frozen terrains and lakes. Snacks served at 8:00pm, which was the same kinds as what I had in American Airlines flight, just the packaging is different... Soon after that, the plane gained altitude at 8:30pm. At 9:00pm, we are at somewhere in Alaska, the outside is slightly bright, and finally reached to the ocean at 10:00pm, the air gets turbulent for a while. I guess I should get some rest, things will go crazy once I get there...

Alaska (11:20pm EST) Bering Sea (11:35pm EST) Nagoya at night (5:30pm EST) Nagoya at night

(Changed to JST) At 4:00pm (2:00am in EST), I woke up from a nap. I have about three more hours of flight to Nagoya. I can feel my body is aching more than usual. So I guess taking a 13 hour straight flight is not my style. In addition, not being able to know the current location frustrates me a lot. The lights inside of the cabin turned on at 5:30pm and the breakfast(?) was served 15 minutes later. By now I can see the lights on the ground. I got served with fried rice. The plane changed the direction near Matsumoto, then headed to southwest toward Nagoya. The plane kept going south along Chita peninsula, then turned around for the approach to the Centrair airport. I was watching the lights along the coast line, soon I saw the south end of the airport and the plane landed at 6:45pm safely. The plane taxied for about 5 minutes to the gate. Because not many people in the plane, I could just walk up to the door without a wait. At the outside of the plane, I felt the warm air, which was at 4C (40F), warmer compare to Detroit. I walked to the passport control, then proceeded to the baggage claim. I was waiting for my bags to come out around 6:55pm. While I wait for the bags to come out, I tried to call home but the company cell phone did not have any credit left... Picked up my bags, passed the customs at 7:05pm. This time, not much questions asked.

To Home (Centrair -> Nagoya -> Hoshigaoka -> Home)

Train #393 bound for Gifu

First thing I did after getting out of the customs was to call my dad from a public phone. The company phone had no credit left... I told my dad that I arrived safe and coming home. I could guess from the background noise that my brother's family is there. I walked to the ground transportation center at 7:11pm, bought a ticket to Nagoya station via an express train. I had some water left in a bottle so no need to buy any this time, I just pick the one leaving at 7:14pm. Although I was in hurry, I managed to snap a picture. The train 393 made a few stops on the way. I took a seat but later realized it was the wrong one so I had to move around. The train joined with a couple more cars at Otagawa station. The train arrived to Nagoya with no delay at 7:54pm and I walked toward the gate for subway. Within a few minutes of wait, I was on the train departed at 8:00pm. It was not crowded. It arrived to Hoshigaoka by 8:18pm, then I walked up to the ground level. I could use a taxi but the bus is available in a few minutes so I use the bus leaving at 8:32pm to come home.

At home, meeting with my mom...

Once getting off at the bus stop, I started to walk toward the home under dark sky with depressed mood but relieved to see the lights at my house. Arrived at 9:00pm, met with my dad, my brother and sister-in-law. The medical bed used to be sitting in the living room was gone, I guessed my dad returned it some days ago (but my dad was looking for the parts came with it). I was tired and entire family was not in the mood of talking. I had a cup of hot tea, then my dad asked me if I wanted to meet her. For a few seconds of thinking, I realized that my mother's body is in the house. I thought usually the funeral house keeps the body but I guess not. I entered the room seeing my mother's body placed in bed with her face covered with a white cloth. I sat down by a table, and did a Shoko, which is a kind of Buddhism ritual, I burned a piece of incense, picked up bits twice then prayed. Then my dad removed a cloth covering the face and I get to see how my mom look like. She looked peaceful despite of the pain and suffering she went through for the past couple of weeks. I picked up a leaf and dip it to a water filled tea cup, and kindly wetted her lips with it. My dad was telling me that she looks like still alive, like the chest could go up and down, and opening her eyes slightly. I guess it is very hard for my dad to accept it but my mind was already set when I decided to come home. Placed the cloth back to her face, got back to dining room.

My mom placed inside of house (the face is covered with a silk cloth), note that the head is placed toward north.

My bother and sister-in-law left around 9:30pm. Tons of sushi left at the dining table, looks like a neighbor got them for us and visitors. I talked with my dad for a while, and we all decided to go bed. Before I go bed, I sat down, looked at the direction which my mom's placed, and said. Thank you for taking care of me for the past 31 years, good night. Went to bed at 11:00pm, but my legs were pretty cold, so I tried to rewarm them but I failed, I could not sleep for the night. Over the night, I woke up at 0:30am, again at 2:40am, then could not back to sleep until the morning...

2009/01/30 Tsuya

Tsuya is like a viewing in the U.S. People gathers and we hold the ceremony for the person who passed away.

Placing mom in the coffin

Woke up at 6:00am, had leftover sushi for the breakfast, there were plenty of them still so no need to cook but heated soup which my sister-in-law cooked. I called grandma around 8:00am to let her know that I arrived in Japan. My grandma wanted to know what to do with the collection of stones which my mom kept. I need to act based on my mom's will so I told her that I need to check with the church first. I went for a short jog in the morning under cloudy sky. The weather today is expecting rain from the afternoon all way to the night... what a day for the service. Come home, took a bath. While I was relaxing, received a call from the funeral service for today's plan. My aunt and uncle came around 10:00am without an appointment so I was quite surprised. It's been a while since I met them. They went to in a room to see my mother. The staffs from funeral service came around 10:30am, first they sat by the body, asked my mother for permission. They asked us how the cosmetics to be applied and so on, washing my mother's body until 11:30am. I needed to go get haircut so left the house for a while. When I come home, her body was already placed in a coffin. They will come and pick her up in the afternoon.

My brother came around 11:45am, we had lunch together, which was left over sushi (again...) We chatted for a while and got ready for the night. We picked few items which to be displayed for mom's memorial. The pictures have been picked by my brother and dad yesterday. I need to pull out my black suit and also borrowed black tie and juzu (a bracelet braiding stones for Buddhism style ceremony). The people from funeral service came around 3:30pm and my brother and I helped moving the coffin out of the house, to a car. It was placed inside of a minivan (Toyota Estima, like Sienna in the U.S.). The outside was slightly raining... It was not originally planned but my dad has to go with them since he is the host and has a couple of meetings. He did not have his suit on so we decided to deliver it later.

Tsuya ceremony

My brother left home to head to funeral home around 4:30pm with my father's stuffs. I had to wait for a delivery truck from a grocery store. The truck come around 5:00pm and had to put stuffs in fridge and freezer before I can head out. The rate of rain was changing from sprinkling to moderate by the time I left home around 5:45pm, walked to the funeral home with an umbrella. Once arrived, I went upstairs for the family waiting room and joined chatting with my family members. I had some time talking with relatives but we had to go in to the ceremony room around 6:45pm. The ceremony started from 7:00pm.

At the opening of the ceremony, The lady at the service saying that the rain may be the sky was crying for my mom. Oh well, a typical expression when utilizing the element... a video was played to go over the few pictures of my mom. Because of the timing, I was quite sleepy but no way falling sleep in front of so many people watching. During the ceremony, I had to burn incense again so when my name is called, I got up vow the attendees, and did a Shoko. Following that, the monk started to read Sutra (or Okyo, Japanese). the first part was okay but when he started to use Mokugyo, a curved wooden drum and making the beat... I had to put every effort possible to resist from falling sleep. Oh, my... It was tough.

The ceremony finished at 8:00pm, and we went back to the waiting room and stayed until 10:30pm, chatting for the most of the time but needed to plan for tomorrow, like deciding the order for Shoko, as well as determining the participants in certain ceremony tomorrow.. We could stay with mother's body for the night but decide not to.

Stage for the funeral ceremony

Going home

Before we go home, I checked out my mom's memorial. There are a couple of pictures displayed, one was under cherry blossom tree, and another was next to moon stone at Smithsonian Institute. We are set to go but did not take a taxi, so walked back home under rain. It was raining hard, and my shoes and pants got pretty wet in a 15 minutes walk. After coming home, we made our beds. I also put the pants for drying. I was talking with my brother until 11:30pm then went to bed. The rain still falling hard, and the wind was gusty... I hope the rain made the temperature stay warm... It was a familiar sound of rain hitting the roof. Same sound since when I was born.

2009/01/31 Funeral Day

I stayed in bed awake until 3:00am, then I started to thinking about what to say at the church on Sunday, I could not sleep after that. The rain was falling pretty hard until almost the morning. I got up at 5:00am to set the rice cooker, then stayed in bed until 6:00am. I have not slept well for more than two days now. I guess I am going to crush soon. As long as I can get through the funeral part, I guess I am fine. My brother headed back to home after 7:00am, then my dad and I had a breakfast around 7:15am. I did the dishes. The rain was over by that time and becoming sunny. I took a quick shower and put my black suit again for the funeral. We have to be there by 9:30am.

Going to Funeral home

My dad and I left home after 9:00am, walking under partly cloudy sky with not much wind. Arrived to the funeral home at 9:30am. I had to clean up the waiting room a bit since no cleaning was done. My brother's family came, as well as my aunt and uncle from both sides. Photo session started from 10:10am, and spent some time there. (I don't see much of the point of this, but included in the package already.) Then we all went upstairs for the early lunch. Everybody was very quiet. It was heartbreaking looking at my uncle (my mom's brother) and my grandma both said nothing... When the monk arrived, my dad and brother had to meet him. The staffs asked to see what to do with my mom's violin, and I was also told that also needed to secure Koden after the ceremony before heading to Yagoto crematorium. I guess I will be busy.

Funeral ceremony from noon...

We took seats at 11:45am, as people start to coming in. Then announcement was made for the start of the funeral at noon. While everybody is sitting, three monks came in and started read Sutra (Okyo), later the main monk came in, while the Sutra continued. Once he moved front of coffin to the chair located a bit far from the coffin, the Shoko (burning incense) started. The order for Shoko was in relative's order. Closer you are, you will get called earlier. So first my dad went first, followed by my bother and sister-in-law, then me and my grandma, My uncle (my mother's brother) and his wife, then my father's sister and her husband, my cousin... and so on. The procedure is when the name is called, you stand up and approached to the stand, then faced Monk and bow once, do a Shoko (burned incense) twice (the first one you need to bring up a bit higher) and prayed. After that, you will go back to your chair.

Following, people who are attending the ceremony started the Shoko (burning an incense). After it is done, waited until the end of sutra. Then my father stood up and sent out message of appreciation, and also my sister-in-law read out a message from my mom's one of the best friends. The ceremony was over then now I need to get Koden from the front desk, pick it up to the upstairs where they provided a safe for us. I placed the money in a safe, locked with a key then return to the second floor. When I come back to the room the coffin was about to be closed, so I dropped a couple of flowers for her. My card was already in place by my brother.

family members were placing flowers in the casket. I took a part of it, helped closing the tab. That's it. This is the last time I see her. The casket will be carried to the car, but before we are going to Yakiba, I had to carry the violin back to waiting room because the staffs did not want to mess with it.

I went downstairs and joined with the relatives to carry the casket to the car. Then relatives to be moving to the cars and a bus to head for cremation. I waited for the coffin to come out of an elevator, some people helped us carrying it to a car. (Modified Mercedes-Benz) My father and brother, grandma to go with it but I  was hopping on the microbus.

Going to crematorium (Sorry, no pictures, due to regulations)

We got a ride to Yagoto, on the route, drove past the building where my brother got married, and saw the hospital where my mom stayed for past 6 months (I just could not look at it straight). I could see some mountains in a distance (I remembered when my mom told me which was Mt. Ontake on the way back from a clinic when I caught a cold. ). Finally arrived to the crematorium (Kasouba, in Japanese) where I have been before for my grandfather's.

It was a bit chilly and breezy but mostly sunny. We followed the hearse but it has to unload the casket so we got off at a location a bit away from the drop off location. We entered the building, and waited. The number 16 oven with a tag showing my last name, so I guess this is the place my mom to get cremated. My mother's coffin arrived on a cart, followed by my dad, brother and grandma. Crematorium staffs operated the shutter and pulled out a base for placing. Monk read another read sutra (okyo), and we all placed incense on top of the coffin. It was a bit windy so I worried it could fall off. I said goodbye to my mom for the one last time as I placed the incense, watching the coffin being loaded into the chamber, the heavy looking metallic door was slowly coming down and shut. It was something which leaves me a big impression. It was a gate, which separate her from me, forever. In the surrounding, I see some other groups coming for the same reason. The cremation process takes about 1.5-2.0 hours before completion, so we walked to a reserved room and settle down, I looked up the clock, it was 1:40pm, we ordered tea and coffee while we are there. We shared snacks from the funeral ceremony... My dad said nothing, my uncle, my grandma also. We waited until 3:00pm when we get a call. and went downstairs to pick up the bones at the chamber.

When we get there, I saw my mom's cremated body. The most of the bones were in tact, except where she had cancer, some rib bones also had funny greenish color. While we are watching, the staffs picked up parts to be placed in the box. We gather at a corner and each family member picked up a piece of bone and place it inside of a container. After it was done, we paid a final bid to what's left and walked out from the building. The bus was waiting  so we need to get going but first need to get my brother's baby and babysitter. I helped carrying a bag for them... We got on it and left the place. We took a different path, it is something to do with a belief. No one said anything and came back to the funeral home by 3:20pm. The last part of the ceremony to start.

Coming back to funeral home

Once we arrived back, placed the container of bones on a table, then monk came in and told that feel free to proceed once Sutra started. So once he started to read Sutra, we burnt another incense. After it was done, the monk explained the meaning of the Kaimyo (a name given to the dead, a posthumous Buddhist name, in English translation) Once it is given, my mother's name becomes a Zokumyo (secular name). The ceremony is over by 4:00pm, and the monk left, we are dismissed. We were guided to upstairs again and this time we had a dinner (I guess I keep eating whole day today...). My dad drank a cup of beer, saying that it's been a long while. After dinner, we gathered up our stuffs, tried to head out to the entrance but realized we have not requested a taxi yet so we had to wait for about 10 minutes for a taxi to arrive.

Coming home, Aftermath

Got a ride on a taxi to home with my dad, brother, and sister-in-law (and their baby). Upon arrival, we brought items into the home. We (almost forgot but) remembered we have to break mom's rice bowl so my brother broke it for us. We had to take care of many things as much as we want to get some rest. Soon, folks from funeral service came and set up a table to place picture of mom, a box containing the bones, and a bunch of flowers. The lady explained to me that what to do like light up a candle, burn a incense, change water in a cup every day,  (Okay okay, I will let my dad know...). They also brought a bunch of flowers from the service, so I had to use three buckets to keep them watered. We need to give them to my neighbors.

Later in the evening, my uncle and aunt came, checking out my dad's hearing aid, they brought us some baked sweet potatoes from a some famous store. After a short chat, they left. I filled up a bath tub with water, and start boiling the water from 6:00pm. My brother's family stayed for a while but the baby looked so tired and stressed out, so we called a taxi for them. They left house at 6:45pm, I helped them carrying the flowers and some fruits. Once come inside, the bath was ready so my dad took a bath, and he told me good night, after my dad went upstairs, for the first time I broke into tears. Now I know that I won't see her again for sure. Had a hot bath around 8:00pm, then went to bed 9:00pm. I am stressed out. I did not wake up that night.

2009/02/01 Going to church...

Woke up at 6:00am, had breakfast with my dad. We have some leftovers from funeral services, we did not have to cook much. Since we have a stand set up for mom, my dad was praying in the morning. I was lying in the bed, just listening... Took care of flowers from funeral. It was a bit chilly outside but I decided to walk to the church I used to go. I arrived around 11:00am, I could recognize all the people inside. During the service, I had to hold my tears very hard. When I reported about my mother's death. I could not hold it anymore. The folks inside of the building knew my mom for a long time so they looked  shocked.

The service was over, and I took a different route while walking back to home. I wanted to stop by at a bookstore but they are closed since today is a Sunday. Coming home around 1:00pm. In the afternoon, I started to organize the list of people who came for the last two days, and Koden, which is a monetary gift given by the people who attended Tsuya or funeral ceremony. Usually they are between 3,000Yen to 10,000Yen, closer they are, usually the more money so some even gave us 50,000Yen. Well, it does not mean anything. I have been told that putting odd number of currency paper inside. Since 1,000 Yen is too little, make it to 3,000 Yen (1,000 x 3), or a 5,000Yen bill. Even number such as 2,000 Yen is something I should avoid.

I also called my grandma to let them know that I need the stones to be shipped to Kumamoto. I will be picking up the stones on Tuesday since I will be busy on Monday. In the evening, my brother's family came for the dinner. We had some gyoza (dumplings), they left around 9:00pm. I did the dishes. It took a while since it was dishes for four. Going to bed around 10:00pm.

2009/02/02 Going to get paperwork help

Woke up at 6:00am, stayed in bed for another 30 minutes since it was pretty cold and did not want to get out. Had breakfast with my dad at 7:00am, then get changed for running for a while after 8:00am. Once I come home, I continue organizing Koden list and started to stack up the money. Prepared letters to my friends before eating lunch with my dad. We ate some breads, it was a good change since we have been eating sushi for so many days...

Stopping by at Post Office

In the afternoon, I walked to a post office to mail a letter I prepared in the morning. Also had to take care of insurances under my mom's name. It's going to be a lot of paperwork. Since I had no clue, one of the staffs there went through all one by one. At the outside. the wind was just breezy so walking with T-Shirt and fleece was not a bad choice. Stopped by at a convenience store for drinks, and some magazines from a bookstore. Come home around 4:00pm, already a guy from medical service picked up the packet containing the leftover parts from the rental bed. A lady from funeral home was coming. home around 4:00pm. Since I don't need to go anything, I went outside to get laundry dried. Come back home finally and stayed at home for the rest of the day. I felt tired, so I went to bed around 9:30pm. I am pretty tired.

2009/02/03 going to see my grandma

Visiting My Grandma

Woke up at 6:00am, had a breakfast from 7:00am. My dad was coughing sometimes like yesterday and saying that he is catching cold. Oh, well... So, I exchanged the air inside of the house. Called my office to check on them but no answer, I hope things are going okay. Cleaned the bathtub so my dad can have a hot bath tonight. I left home to go see my grandma at 10:00am to catch a bus then took a subway to Nagoya. I need to get on Meitetsu so passed the gate at 10:43am, and saw a train coming in. I thought I could get to Narumi without checking it (bad choice...) The train was bound for Tokoname, so I realized that I am on the wrong train after passing Jungu Mae (the last station I could get off and make correction), so I had to wait until it stop to the next station. After changing the train, I get to Narumi.

I arrived to my grandma's house around 11:45am, we chat a bit. As the sky was getting cloudy. She ordered s couple of Sushi for the lunch and we had them together.

Chirashi Sushi

During the stay, my grandma was telling me about the day my mom died, that she was planning to visit the hospital when my dad called in the morning, since it did not sounds urgent so she decided to visit her in the afternoon with my uncle and aunt, they found out she passed away in the morning. I felt so sorry about it. I brought out a box of stones from storage, and we sorted the stones together, and I had to check the color and grain of the stones to identifying in groups. I picked few pieces from each groups to be shipped to a friend of my mom. We chatted, while drinking teas and I got to know about my mom how she spent her weekend for rock hunting. She also told me about my grandfather and also herself. Those are something I would never know if she passes away without telling me. Left there around 3:20pm, walked to the station and then took train back to Nagoya, which was leaving at 3:41pm.

Stopping by at Red Cross Hospital to fill a request for mom's hospitalization certificate.

I need to get a certificate of hospitalization from the hospital in order to make claim to the insurance company, so on the way back to home, I stopped by at a Red Cross Hospital in Yagoto. I had to fill out a form, put a seal and showed my ID. I also paid 5,250Yen for the process and may take up to three weeks. When I stepped outside, it was cloudy and beginning to get dark. As I walk toward the nearby subway entrance, I looked back the building for the one last time, and think to myself that I won't see it again. Took a subway back to Hoshigaoka. I shopped at Yamada appliance store around 4:00pm, then took a bus home. I prepared a bath, had dinner together with my dad, and took a hot bath. I went to bed around 10:00pm.

2nd Nagoya Red Cross Hospital located in Yagoto

2009/02/04 Going to Meito Ward office, Visiting brother's house

Going to Meito Ward Office for record checking

Woke up at 6:00am., had breakfast with my dad. I only have four more days before I head back to the U.S. and I still have tons of paperwork to do. My dad and I discussed what to do next, and one of the item is that we need to get a record of my mom's residency since her birth to death. It will take about 3 business days to reflect the decease on the record so I think the official record has been updated. I thought I need some exercise so I decided to walk to Hoshigaoka, which takes me like 20 minutes. After washing the dishes, I left home. It was no that cold but the wind was a bit chilly. I arrived to the subway station, then get a ride on a train to Kamiyashiro. I walked to the Ward Office from there. This time I needed some help getting my mom's record. I also registered my seal. I needed to get previous record of residency so I had to file request twice. Each copy cost me 750Yen so it's not cheap. Anyways, I am done around 11:00am, and walked back to the station. I walked back to home just in time for lunch with my dad. I explained to him that I need to go to another government office to get more record.

Fixing my dad's PC

I spent afternoon at home, fixing my dad's PC. My dad was complaining that some website he was visiting don't show the contents well and give errors. I suggested him to buy a new one since his PC is almost 10 years old. He told me that he would pay up to 150,000Yen, it may not give him a lot of choice, though. Since I was not sure about the problem, I decided to check out what's going on. It seems to be that my dad did not update the web browser, so I changed it to the latest version. Now he can enjoy the streaming radio. We saved some money here.

Potato chips with Beef and Wasabi flavor Japanese version Cheetos (BBQ flavor and Chili Sauce combo)

Visiting my brother's house

My dad finished cooking dinner so I was able to wash dishes, called my brother's home and let them know that I am planning to head out. I did not have much time so I left home in heist but I did not forget about taking Kesa, and Chinese Cabbage. Get on a bus at 8:00pm, switched to a subway and arrived their house at 8:20pm. I worked on the net for a while. I got about 100 emails to read. I already had my dinner so I was playing with their baby while they were eating. Around 10:00pm, I decided to go home. I discussed about the plan of having dinner together on Saturday since I will be leaving here on Sunday.

My bother told me that catching a bus at Hoshigaoka station could be difficult. I walked back to subway station in hurry. caught one just arriving. (I was lucky...) I was able to catch a bus leaving Hoshigaoka at 10:30pm so I get to come home around 10:50pm. My dad was already in bed so I locked up the house and hit the bed.

2009/02/05 Going to Midori Ward office

Preparing letters and packages

Woke up at 6:00am, had a breakfast with my dad. I washed the dishes, then started to organize inside of a cabinet to remove dishes we don't use much. I need to make room so my dad can live easier. Wrote a couple of letters, packed a series of stones which my mom collected around Aichi and Gifu prefectures. It was already 11:30am when I finished it. I just need to take them to a post office nearby, to drop off. It's getting pretty sunny outside again today. We had lunch together.

Going to Midori Ward Office

Left home around 1:30pm, walking up a hill to take care of stuffs at a post office. I mailed a package to a friend from a church, a cash delivery certificate to a church I used to go, and a card to my friend in the U.S. After that, I walk to a bus stop nearby and got on a bus leaving there around 1:50pm. Arrive to Hoshigaoka, and catch a subway to Nagoya. Changed the train to Meitetsu, I got on a local train to Okazaki departing at 2:24pm. Got to Narumi station and walked to the ward office around 3:05pm. I had a map in hand so I can compare where I am right now and general location. It was easy to find the office, but a bit far away from the station nearby. I have been told by my grandma that the Midori Ward Office used to be closer to the Meitetsu station... Since today is sunny, it was such a nice walk. I found the building and submitted my request for record of residency and waited for about half hour before I can get a copy. There was something which I don't understand on the paper so I called my grandma, then decided to visit her. So I ran to her house, took me about 30 minutes and had tea while chatting. She told me about my mother, grandpa and other relatives. I guess I need to do more researches.

Tran arrived at Narumi station Narumi Ward Office

Coming Home

Stayed at grandma's place until 5:00pm, took an express train back to Nagoya which left Narumi station at 5:23pm and arrived Nagoya at 5:42pm. I was able to catch a subway leaving at 5:46pm so I was back in Hoshigaoka by 6:00pm. I stayed at Yamada appliance store until 6:30pm, then walked to a bus station nearby to get a ride back home. The dinner was almost ready when I come home. Had dinner with dad, stayed up until 10:00pm then went to bed. The news reported today's high was 13 deg, so it was quite warm.

2009/02/06 Going to farmers market

Going to farmers market

Woke up at 6:00am, had breakfast with my dad. Did the dishes then went out for a short run in the morning around 9:00am The outside was sunny and warm (morning was at 6 deg) but windy. After coming back home, I took a quick shower. Get changed, then walked to a local farmers market around 10:00am. My mom used to tell me that between 10:00am to 10:30am is the busiest, and I guess she was right. There were so many people shopping, like 40 people in a tiny store, and it was a chaos. It took a while and get to casher in the line of 20 people. I bought Chinese cabbage (Hakusai), spinach, and a lettuce. Several people know me because from my mom's funeral, and also because I was shopping when I was coming home last year. Walked back home around 11:00am. Had to go to a convenience store to get photocopies of paperwork.

Plum tree at home started to bloom Farmers market where my mom used to work at

Going to Hoshigaoka for V-day chocolate...

My dad come home before noon and we had lunch. I washed the dishes and also cleaned the vent. I walked to a laundry to get the cloth dried. Unlike the last time, there was nobody in the building. I guess I am the only person who's got free time. Hahaha... Went back to home after it was done. Get changed again then left home and caught a bus going to Hoshigaoka around 3:00pm. I went to Mitsukoshi Department store to buy a box of chocolate for my mom. This would be the first as well as the last one (Every year, I was sending her a card every year but I have never get a chance to buy her actual chocolate while she was alive). Since my grandma told me that mom liked non-Japanese style so I picked Molozoff brand. I left there around 3:20pm, then headed to Seiyu department by groceries. It took me a while and my legs were already tired from running and walking... Oh well, I got there, picked up a fillet of salmon and walked home around 4:20pm. The wind was pretty gusty whole day so I felt cold as I was walking back under the darkening sky.

Come home, updated my blog. Had dinner with my dad. The salmon I had was for Sashimi so it was a bit too wasteful if we just dump them in a soup so we saved the half to Sashimi, and also enjoyed the dinner. I prepared a hot bath, and let my dad go in first. Went to bed around 10:00pm.

2009/02/07 Evening at Brother's house

Woke up at 6:00am, it was a bit chilly in the morning. The news in the morning was reporting of 1 deg C. Had breakfast with my dad then did the dishes. My dad went outside for a while. I was taking out more dishes which my dad won't be needing from the cabinet to make more room. It took a long while, and also made few discoveries. I found a tea cup I used to use when I was a middle school student, as well as one my grandpa used. After I finish taking stuffs to outside, I went for running outside for a while. Stopped by at nearby bicycle store to bid farewell to the owner. I come home, took a quick shower, then walked to a drug store to buy items to fix kitchen. I come home, finally took care of the kitchen. I called few people before noon, and did a laundry.

My dad came home around noon, so we had lunch together. After taking care of dishes, I did a load of laundry. Although I already know that I will be flying back to Detroit tomorrow, but Northwest Airlines won't let me pick the seat until 24 hours prior to the flight, so I had to select the seating by logging on the web site. I was lucky to get a window seat. I walked outside, been to do laundry and spent half hour there. After coming home, I walked to Hoshigaoka to take care of an errand, then walk back home by 3:00pm. I spent afternoon packing until 6:00pm.

Dinner at brother's house

My dad and I left home around 6:00pm to catch a bus to Hoshigaoka, then switched to a subway to go to my brother's house. On the way, my dad told me about how he used to commute, like 30 years ago. We arrived to their house around 6:30pm. They treated us with nice dishes, Subuta, Seafood dish and others. They also gave us early Valentine's day present. My dad got a short sleeve shirt and something extra. I got a long sleeve shirt. I get to play with the baby a bit, then also I checked email, I had about 120 emails to read...

We walked to the subways station to head home around 8:50pm. On the way back to home, my dad told me about how he used to go to work. (Like take a bus to Nagoya from Nishiyama Jutaku station then switched to another one) while looking at the timetable for the bus. We arrived home by 9:30pm, then I went to bed around 11:00pm after taking care of the stuffs.

2009/02/08 Coming Back to the U.S.

To the airport (Home - Hoshigaoka - Nagoya - Centrair)

I woke up at 6:00am, I felt pretty tired... Had a breakfast with dad at 7:00am. My dad told me he is going to be lonely again. Well, I think so. but I cannot do anything about it, though. My dad had to leave at 8:00am due to an appointment, saying thank you while I cheered him up. I still needed to take a quick shower, finish packing, and also vacuum rooms to clean up before leave. I have to leave home with little or no mess, and my dad is expecting some guest today... After I get done with everything, I went to my mom's room, put a box of chocolate at the stand, saying farewell and then readied to leave.

Train #300 at Nagoya

I left home at 9:00am, walking toward a bus stop nearby. Caught a bus at 9:15am, arriving at Hoshigaoka in 10 minutes. Took an elevator down to the subway station and get on a train. I arrived to Nagoya station at 9:51am. Since there is no escalator I could use for rear entrance, I had to get out from the front one, which is far away from the gate for Meitetsu. After getting out of the gate, I walked toward the Meitetsu station, I paid 350Yen to buy a Mu ticket (I already had a boarding pass given from my grandma) and got a ride on a train leaving at 10:01am. When the train arrived to the station, I tried to take picture but the station staff rushed me so I had to run into the train. Hahaha... The train #300 left Nagoya on time, and start heading to the airport. It was sunny again, but this time I was looking left side of the airport (Arrived at 10:36am)

To Detroit NW72 NGO 12:45pm (JST) - DTW 10:35am (EST)

After arriving to the station, I walked around to check the place out for a while. This time I will be going through international flights so I need to proceed to the left hand side. I waited until the plane come to the gate at the observation deck. I was able to see it coming at 11:00am, then I went inside of the building. I called my friend, and also my grandma to bid farewell. I also exchanged currency from Yen to USD. Lined up for the security check, some people weren't familiar with the process so they did not brought out their passports and boarding passes, so it was taking a long time. Finally passed the security, then proceeded to the passport control. Once pass that point, there were some duty free stores but not much groceries I can get. I bought a stick of chewing gums, and a bottle of tea. I arrived at the gate around 11:30am, had some time to relax. I was stretching my body before the boarding. (I checked the board and it says the departure get pushed ahead by 10 minutes, so now 12:35pm. Why???)

Golden colored B7373 (Kinshachi jet) NW72 arriving from Philippine? Inside of Centrair (Classic) Inside of Centrair (Modern)

Fin Air Chinca Air

I was sitting a bit far away from the gate so when I start hearing about the boarding around 11:30am, there is a long line for boarding already. I hope I can get inside of the plane before the all the baggage compartment is full... The boarding began at 11:50am, just moving along the long line. I finally took seat at 12:15pm.At 12:30pm, the plane got pushed back, after a short wait, the plane started to move toward the south end of the airport. I am glad that everything is over and I just need to head back home now. The plane departed at 12:45pm, flying north then mode a counterclockwise turn around the airport, then headed to northeast toward mountain area. I could see Toyota's headquarter complex and many other locations. Arrived over Mt Fuji by 1:00pm. The passenger next to me wanted to have a picture of Mt Fuji, so I copied my files to an USB memory and gave it to her. The plane was passing by Tokyo at 1:05pm. I could see the Haneda Airport and a part of Chiba, including Narita Airport. Reached to Inuboe Misaki at 1:12pm and heading to Pacific Ocean.

Nagoya View Mitsubishi Okazaki  Toyota HQ
Ontake, Komgatake North Alps  South Alps Mt. Fuji
Haneda Airport Tokyo Narita Airport Inuboe Misaki

Cloud coverage once at ocean

After reaching to pacific ocean, the plane changed course to northward, so the plane will be going toward Alaska. At 1:40pm turbulent as the plane head toward Alaska. Our lunch was served at 2:00pm. After the lunch, I did not have much things to do so I shut the sun shade down and tried to sleep. At 5:15pm, we were hitting turbulent again, when I look up through the window I could see another plane flying high, I am not sure where it was going. The flight gets calm around 6:00pm. About half hour after that, I saw a light on the ground. Maybe reaching to Alaska by now but I cannot tell where I am at right now. I was trying to sleep again.

(Changed clock to EST) I got up at 8:20am, soon the breakfast was served around 8:45am. We have about one more hour of flight before arriving to Detroit. The display started to show the air data, it shows that the plane is flying at FL300 at -72F, the plane started to come down for the landing around 9:40am FL280 at -50C. At 9:55am passing by at DTW, I could see it on left hand side. The plane was getting ready to land. Lowering the altitude, extending the flap, then finally landed at 10:05am at local time. The plane taxied to the gate, and arrived 5 minutes after the landing. My trip is almost completed.

Dawn Sunrise
Saginaw Bay (9:40am) Flint, MI (9:45am) Novi, MI (9:50am) DTW (9:55am)
At the final approach for DTW Coming to the terminal

To Home

At 10:30am, I got out of the plane then walked toward the immigration. This is my first time using immigration at Detroit airport so everything was fresh to me. I was in a line for about 15 minutes until my turn. The guy pointed out that my passport will be expiring early next year so I have to renew it by August. After passing the immigration, I was at the baggage claim until 11:00am because it was hard to locate my bags from two luggage claims. Eventually I found both of mine and passed the customs. Once I walked out from the building, I went upstairs for the ground transportation. Got a ride on a shuttle bus around 11:05am to the outside parking, my car looked pretty dirty from rain, sand and salt. Took me about 15 minutes until I can get out of there under sunny sky. The first thing I did was to drive to a bank to deposit the money which I exchanged to USD. Then move to LTF for workout from noon. I left around 1:00pm, headed to One World Market for Japanese food, Meijer for groceries, and a carwash, before finally coming home at 2:15pm. The snow on the ground was pretty much gone, and the ice on the pond back in my apartment looked almost melting down. I relaxed for the evening, checked emails and called my home to talk with my dad in the evening. Had dinner and went to bed around 8:30pm. I was tired.

The ice is almost melting away...?!



Go back to Home / Top / My mom's final days (#1: Hospitalization / #2: Surgery / #3 Visa Renewal / #4 Homecoming / #5 New Year / #6 Funeral / Extra: Hatsubon)