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08/11/2012

Tea Ceremony and Host Siblings For Life

The day of my midterm was the day of the tea ceremony event at school! We didn't get to participate in the tea ceremony, but we learned all about them and then watched one with accompanying explanations. After we watched, everyone was given some Matcha (Japanese green tea) and a tea cake. 

Then later that same week,
                                                                     
Today is the day I got to meet my sister and her mom in Ueno!!! I hadn't seen Hiromi since she went back to Osaka at the end of her exchange, and I hadn't seen okaa-san since I first met Hiromi the summer before that, so it was a wonderful reunion! We met up in front of the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno, Tokyo. None of us had been before, so it was a new experience for everyone. We were all so happy to see each other!!!

The National Museum is a rather large establishment, and it is full of some absolutely amazing Japanese art. From samurai armor to paper fans, this place has EVERYTHING!It was fascinating and I definitely recommend it if you're ever in Tokyo. The Ueno Park Zoo is also in the area if you have a second day.
Anyways, we explored the enormous museum for what I thought was only a short while but turned out to be about 2 hours! I couldn't believe how fast it flew by! I think my favorite room was the one with all of the Ukio-e, or maybe the netsuke, or maybe the wall screens? Oh, I don't know, I can't pick a favorite, there were just too many fantastic things I saw!




                                                               After we finished looking though the National Museum, we walked through Ueno park. There is a very famous statue on the other side from where the museum was, and we decided that we wanted to go see it. Along the way, we stopped when we saw many tori gates lined up down a path. Okaa-san suggested we follow it to the shrine. It was a very short walk to the shrine and Okaa-san gave me and Hiromi each a 5yen coin (they are good luck) to make a request of the shrine. I could tell you what the shrine was for, but I that might give away our requests, and we can't have that! The walk through the park was beautiful since the weather has cooled down substantially after it rained two days ago. We did find the statue we were seeking and took a photo in front of it to commemorate the day.

 
By this time we were starting to get hungry, so we left the park in search of food. There is a shopping center very close to both the park and the station, so it was convenient for us to walk over there and find something delicious. After exploring the available options, we decided that tonight was a night for Kaiten Zushi! Kaiten Zushi is what you might be used to hearing called "conveyor belt sushi" in the states. I love these places; they're really fun and the sushi is always fresh and delicious! We had our choice of sushi from the varied assortment available, as well as miso soup with shellfish and an unlimited supply of hot Matcha (Japanese green tea). The only problem I ever have at these places is getting full before I can try everything!! I'll have to go back so that I can try even more wonderful sushi. Some of these I have seen in the states, but the vast majority I only see on my occasional trips to the Land of the Rising Sun. Maybe there's a Kaiten Zushi place near the hotel or the University, I will have to look into that!

After dinner, we explored the shopping center. It was such a fun time! We looked through many floors of the large building and had a blast talking. I am so happy that I was able to see Hiromi and Okaa-san today. I am very thankful that they were able to make the trip all the way from Osaka to visit. Eventually we had to part ways. I was sad that we had to separate, but I know that in time we will definitely see each other again.

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