Two other points worth noting.
While in Kyoto, the faculty surprised Russ with two glorious birthday cakes on his 27th birthday. Thank you Keiko for finding such a great bakery! Japanese pastry and whip cream with fruits are a very special treat. It added to the exciting and memorable “food” experience for all the students. “Coolish”!
And, Keiko visited her aunt Akemi in Kyoto and returned with baskets of fresh Japanese pastries and snacks. They were Akemi’s gifts offered as a sign of appreciation for the student’s visit to Japan. This was a near universal comment made by most Japanese we encountered during the visit.
The impact of the March 11 events and aftermath have hit tourism, a major economic factor, quite hard. Some hotels and inns have a cancelation rate of 98%, greatly impacting many people and businesses. Beyond the economic aspect, however, was a deep sense of appreciation for the support and comfort provided by being present among the people.