day 8 – host family 2.0, tea ceremony

they are holding the mugs I got them :)

Not as early of a day, we were not due to meet up with Ayumi until 12:15, so we went to Kodaira-shi to a free foot bath.  I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t want to be rude.  They had two covered areas and a little  stream with a small bridge.  The water was very hot but once I’d left my feet in for about 20 seconds, they acclimated.  However, whenever I moved, the water was very hot again.  We stayed there for about 15 minutes.  One man kept talking to us and gesturing at the other covered foot bath area.  I couldn’t figure out what he was saying, but his legs were beet red.  The stream area was lukewarm water.  Because the water was so hot, the water quickly evaporated and I was able to put my shoes on before too long.

Higashi-Yamatoshi station

We had some time before our train so walked around the station a bit.  Found this Engrish sign:

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We accidentally got on the wrong train so ended up being about 15 minutes late.  Ayumi and Mai met us at the station outside the Laketown mall.  Everything looked so different from when I lived there, much more developed.  Ayumi and Mai were already wearing their kimonos, I would change into mine when we got to our destination.

We went to the Koshigaya public hall, where Ayumi had rented one if their Japanese rooms to conduct the tea ceremony.  We met her friend there (whose name we cannot remember) and they started on getting the room set up.

Ayumi helped me with the kimono (by “help,” I mean she put it on completely), and I was amazed as always with all the layers.  Once she was done helping me, she helped Jason put on his yukata.

Poor Mai tried to talk to me, but didn’t know how to say it.  Ayumi told me several times that both girls were frustrated that they couldn’t communicate.  They had a lot to say, but just didn’t have the English words.  I completely understood, having the same problem.  Mai said she plans on coming to the States when she’s in college in 3 years, and will use that time to practice her English.  I told her that I would practice my Japanese and we’d have an easier time communicating the next time we met.

Not long after this, we began the ceremony.  Typically one would kneel  the whole time, but I cannot as my legs and feet start to get numb.  Ayumi gave me a little stool to sit up on, but as a result, I could shift around at all and my left leg became numb.  When it was time to stand, my foot had lost all feeling and I had to use my hand to move my foot into position.

The Japanese rooms have the traditional tatami mat floors and sliding doors on all three walls.  During a tea ceremony there is a specific way to enter and walk through the room, you bow at specific times and even the way you hold your cup is specified.  It is a beautiful tradition and we were very honored to be allowed to participate.

We first did a thicker tea, and it was the longer ceremony.  Then Ayumi’s friend served Mai so we could see a different type of ceremony.  After the “practice,” Jason and I were served while Ayumi explained each step.  Then we each made tea for each other.

During the first ceremony, we all shared the same cup and Ayumi explained that each person needed to think of the needs of everyone else, not just themselves, to ensure that everyone got some.  I like this symbolism and feel it really encapsulates Japan as a whole.

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After the ceremony, we went to Daishō-ji Temple so see some Sakura.  Visiting temples, shrines, and parks is my favorite thing to do in Japan.  Shopping drains me, while going and seeing these outdoor locations energizes me.

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I very carefully entered the car (gotta keep the kimono clean) and we headed home.  Yui wasn’t set to get home until 7:30 so we would wait to eat until then.  Masayuki-san got off work early to be with us, which was extremely kind and thoughtful.  Ayumi, Mai, and I changed back into our street clothes and then joined Jason and Masayuki-san in the living room.  I showed them pictures of our cats, we enjoyed their talking Parrot, and I even petted his head.

Masayuki-san found an atlas and we showed them where we live, where my parents live, and where my grandma lives.  We talked about where we’ve been in the States and where we want to go.  Ayumi went to Sweden and Denmark last year and Yui went to the UK in June last year for a school trip.

While Ayumi and Masayuki-san prepared dinner, Mai, Jason, and I played Golf and Go Fish.  She picked up both games quickly and Yui arrived while we were playing.  We played a few more card games, including Sevens.

We enjoyed a dinner of curry and rice, rolling sushi (we didn’t have the rolling mats, we just filled the nori with whatever we wanted and rolled it up), miso soup, and chicken.  Yui told us more about her trip to the UK and Ayumi asked us to teach her Spoons after dinner.

While Ayumi and Masayuki-san cleaned up, Yui and Mai re-taught me how to play Bouzu Merkuri.  Mai and I played this game a lot when I lived there.  We taught Jason and played a few games before Ayumi was ready to join is in a game of Spoons.  We had a great time, laughing at all the foibles.  I love how games can bring people together.

playing Bouzu Merkuri

It was getting late and we needed to get back, as we had an early day.  They drove is to the station and we said our sad goodbyes.  We are planning on coming back and hope they will visit us in the States.  But it was still difficult to leave.

We made it back to our station at about 10:30 and got to our place not long after that.  Spending way too much time in Facebook and the like, I finally went to bed after midnight. -_-

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