Hello everyone! So the journey continues. Today I got to participate in my host mother's tea ceremony classes that she teaches, which was really cool, and thus the reason for one of today's words of the day. Sado (sah-do), refers to the Japanese tea ceremony, which I will talk about more in a minute. Also, today I went out to lunch with my big brother and his lovely girlfriend and he taught me how to say, 'My treat' as in, I'll pay. To say that, you say "Ogorimasu." So if you say this, be prepared to pay the bill. I also found out that in the Shinto religion, if a member of your family dies, or if you have really bad luck, you are not allowed in the shrine (the jinja) for one week, because the Shinto god likes to stay away from death and bad luck. I had a kind of ramen, btw, called I think it was Tatamen, which was noodles in a gravyish broth with ground beef and white sesame, as well as a few veggies. It is said to be a bit spicy, but I didn't really think so. It was good though.
In other news, I wento the tea ceremony, where my host mother was all dressed up in her kimono looking lovely. There were two different ceremonies I participated in, one with cold green tea, where I sat in a chair like contraption, and one with hot green tea where I had to kneel for forty five minutes until I thought my bones were going to break. I won't go into all the details because it would take too long for one blog, but suffice it to say that the meticulous nature of every aspect of the tea ceremony is amazing. Everything has to be precise, from the angles and places you set things, to the number of times you do something, or how much water you put in, or which foot you lead with when you leave, or how to hold this or that and when. It was an amazing experience, I have to say and I was overwhelmed by the timeless, deep nature of the Japanese tradition. Btw, when Americans think of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, they usually think of powdered green tea that you put in the bowl thing and mix with a whisk until it is a deep green color, but that is ot the only type of tea ceremony. That is used with Macha, which is green tea powder, whereas what I witnessed today was all using Kyusu, which are the actual leaves, and it can be a ceremony for hot green tea or cold green tea. So, suffice it to say, I learned a lot about tea today.
I ventured out on my own for a little bit today, going to the local 7/11 for toilet paper and what not, found a 100 Yen vending machine (which is cheaper than most) where I bought the drinks in the picture, and then went to pick up some photos I'd gotten at a store by the station. Speaking of which, the dang passport photo saga continues. When you come to Japan, if you're staying, not just visiting, and are going to get an Alien Registration Card, bring two passport size photos with you, because as I learned the hard way, getting them here will set you back $15.00 (the first money I spent in Japan : / ) and might take a while to find a shop to do it, if you don't have a host family to ask.
Well, tonight we're having some guests from the neighborhood over for Okonomiyaki, which is a sort of omelette/pancake thing with meat and veggies in it. Oh, be forewarned that some places in Japan don't have napkins (like my family doesn't use them), so you might want to brink a packet of napkins with you, or take some that are being passed out with ads on the streets in busy places like Shibuya. But that's a story for another day. I'll talk to you all soon!