Staying Connected Through Grass Sandals | by Crystal Clark

Every year, as our Japanese American friends head to Japan for a few weeks, we row one of the beautiful Five in a Row books about Japan to stay connected with them on their journey.

The first year, we rowed Grandfather's Journey and mainly talked about family trees. We made a big family tree on the wall and Ezra who was 6 years old at the time, was certain that our Japanese friends were part of our family and came up with the most beautiful explanation for our different heritage.

He said, "Logan's family branch must have fell off our tree in a storm, but it is making new roots right next to ours and pretty soon our roots will be all tangled up and look like the same tree again."

I think there is more wisdom here than he realizes, and it will forever remain a treasured memory.

She, in turn, sent this picture back to Ezra. Our families are joined for all time and will become one again.

This year, we dove into FIAR Volume 4 and chose Grass Sandals for the journey. This is the true story of one of the most famous Japanese poets and his marvelous travels! Since one of the places Basho travels to in the book is a hot springs, we too ventured to our local hot springs.

We studied geothermal vents, minerals, and volcanic activity. Water is coming out of the ground around 110*F. It is 25*F outside the pool. Winter in Montana wouldn't be complete without such opportunities.

When your best friends are Japanese, traditional food is far from a foreign concept. My children very much prefer Asian cuisine. With that said, we had never ventured into chopsticks. This year we made the leap, and they are asking to use chopsticks regularly now!

Ezra made his best attempt at writing his and brothers names in Katakana Japanese, and then we tried our hand at Haiku and wrote this short winter poem.

Prompted by a photo of a Serow, shared by our friend in front of her home, we studied the unique animals of Japan. Many of which I had never heard of!

Yet another row of beautiful memories made while building friendships and strengthening bonds across cultures.

Crystal Clark is a homeschooling mother of four boys in the gorgeous mountains of NW Montana. Adventuring, living the dream and serving our amazing Creator all of our days.


  1. Crystal, that little leaf taking root next to the tree and the picture your friend sent of the little tree growing up next to the big tree is so precious! ♥ It melts my heart, and also reminds me of Romans 11! I love how you made a trip to the hot springs to tie into your row. And your boys eating with chopsticks - so cute! Such precious memories made! Thank you so much for sharing and being willing to be featured!!

  2. that was an interesting read. :) Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Thank you for sharing our FIAR adventures Michelle. Truly precious memories. And Romans 11 is perfect here!

  4. What a sweet story about the branch falling off the tree and the roots getting tangled together. It's a great word picture to describe close relationships that aren't necessarily blood ties. :-)

    Love how FIAR ties everything together and this study has some great activities with it!

  5. Love the way your son described his extended family. :) Out of the mouths of babes. Sometimes children get things it takes some adults a lifetime to learn...or remember. Thank you for sharing!