Saturday, October 22, 2005

My Japanese Family....

Whoa, What a day!

I am doing my home stay this weekend, where I stay with a Japanese family and it has been AMAZING! They are letting me use the Internet right now (yes!) so I can try to record this all before I forget it. This is by far the best part of my trip.

So we wake up early from the hotel and have to pack out stuff yet again (which I think is stupid, b/c we will unpack it tomrorow when we stay for another night). But we did and I fit it all, so I can`t complain. We all waited downstairs for our host families to arrive after breakfast. I have to admit that I was very nervous. I didn`t know what to expect and was afraid that they would know no English. The Japanese families started to arrive and they all gathered on one side of the room while we sat on another (kind of like a middle school dance!). Slowly, they started to come over. My host Matsumura came right over to me. He was so nice! It was just him and we braved the elements (lots of rain...dang it all...left over from the typhoon) and got into his Jeep. He kept telling me his car was American and was loving that my Honda was Japanese!

We drove to his house where I took my shoes off at the door and put on slippers. I met him wife and 85 year old mother who lives with them. He has two kids around my age, but the boy is away in medical school and the girl went to a concert. We sat in his living room (which is not that much different from an Ameican one, but they have mats all over instead of carpet) and he laid out the game plan. We would first go to Ski Jam, which is their big ski resort for pizza (nice!) and then go to one of the oldest shrines in Japan.

Oh, and he took me to my "pad" which is actually across the start. I have my own little apartment to myself complete with a stocked fridge of all kinds of chocolates. I love them!!!!!

His wife went with us to get pizza and it was really good. We drove up winding hills to get to the mountain top and I was afraid my car sickness would kick in. He made me sit in the front with him, though, so it was a bit better. They drive on the wrong side of the road here and the driver sits on the right side. I keep mixing it up and going to the wrong side! They ordered three big pizzas and a plate of pasta for the three of us. I am beginning to think that the Japanese think we eat a lot!

We dropped Matsumura`s wife off at home so she could prepare dinner...sushi! The shrine was a ways away but it was amazing. It was a large grounds area where buddist monks live. I made my first big mistake of the weekend when I took off my shoes to enter and had no socks on! It was so bad! You don`t wear shoes inside and I had to walk all over barefoot...ugh! We followed the path and got to see a lot of cool things. I prayed at a alter where you put down a coin, take a bit of ash and put it into the incense. I then saw their shrines to budda and a lot of the monks. My host "father" made me go on a photo shoot and took a ton of pictures! You aren`t allowed to take pictures of the monks, be he made me pose for one when they weren`t bad! We kept posing for pictures and all the Japanese people aroudn us would also take one. I think they were intrigued to see an American (Catholic, none the less! ) at a Buddist temple! I bought a ton of souviners, including incense that I will burn for everyone. He bought me two prayer bracelets when I wasn`t for me and one for my sister, he said, since I kept talking about her.

We stopped at a tofu factory on the way home (YUM!) b/c I told him I liked it and then a bamboo musueum that was really interesting. I ran into a lot of people from my group there and bought way too many things (including a toy for baby McCrea and the Whalens!!!).

Now for the best part...he asked me if I would like to go to a dance class with his wife. I told him I use to dance when I was younger and he got all excited. Somehow they found me some jazz shoes (which I don`t understand b/c my size is so large...right, Rich???), but they did and off we went. I entered a house and walked upstairs where they had a dance studio! It was soooo cool! I did a dance class with three other ladies! Somehow I got to talking about how I take yoga and so the instructor started to do that! Then I was taking a yoga class! Towards the end she had me lie down and she started to walk on my back and then give me some strange (but good feeling!) back massage! If my dance classes could have ended like that, I would have loved it! After class it is tradition to drink tea. We sat at a table in the back and someone brought us green tea. We had to drink it in a certain way. We turned the bowl two times, sipped in it three sips, turned it three more times and then rubbed the rim. It was very bitter so we had a tiny sugar cake to eat afterwards. I loved it! The best part was, they pull out a bag for me filled with the cakes and strange treats! Score!

I went home and took a quite shower before dinner. Okay, their shower is so weird. First of all, the toilet is in a different room and you wear special shoes for it. I go to the shower room and get into the bathtub. It makes sense, right? Wrong! I guess the tub is seperate and you shower on the floor. I made a huge mess and was VERY confused! Ugh!

Last but not least was dinner! It was the BEST! One of the ladies from the dance class came with her husband. She runs a boutique and brought me a shirt. Everyone here is sooo nice! We sat down to a feast! I can`t begin to tell you what we ate, because there was sooo much! I had so many different kinds of fish including octapus, squid and lots of other good raw stuff! Yum! The shrimps all had little eyes and kept watching me. I ate all their edemomae and tried so stuff that I probably don`t want to know what it was! We sat on the floor on pillows and ate at a low table. It took about two hours and was a lot of fun!

Now I am getting ready to brave the apartment again...wish me luck!


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