This weekend just past, the 4 of us (Harima and Shiso Gappers) met up with our Japanese teacher, Maeda-sensei, and her younger sister (who attends Harima home), Makiko-san.
Jess and I cycled to Harima home on Monday morning (about 40 minutes away by bike), only to find out that the plans had changed and we were going back past Shiso home to visit the small Haga Castle near us. The view was spectacular from the top; you could see the whole town in the valley below! Jess and I plan to visit again in the Winter when it`s snowing too.
Afterwards Maeda-sensei took us all (crammed into the back of her car – poor Makiko-san looked like she might disapear into the seat fold, she`s that tiny) to her house in Yamasaki. Just before arriving, we stopped at Jusco to gather ingrediants for the cooking we did while at her house: tempura for lunch and okonomiyaki for dinner. The okonomiyaki (literally, `as you like it` in Japanese) was particularly good because the first time I had it in July, the unforgettable K-san distracted me from eating most of it! (Check my GCSE Japan trip journal if you want to read that ^_^).
Between lunch and dinner, Maeda-sensei started with us what will hopefully become a regular thing, crafts and painting in a Japanese style. We did sumie on Monday; only a very basic black and white bamboo design, but still great nontheless. It reminded me of the precision strokes used in caligraphy a little; the emphasis seemed to be on flowing brushstrokes and careful delegation of the darker and lighter inks on the brush so that they blended whne pressed onto the paper. It`s more difficlt that it sounds, especially to create realistic leaves in one stroke!
Much of the rest of the time was spent talking and planning next weekend`s activites. We will be staying at Maeda-sensei`s for two nights and visiting Himeji Castle (my second time – the first I was overcome by the heat and walked to the top in a zombie-like fashion, missing it all ^^;) on the Monday. I`m planning to buy postcards then and maybe a yukata for myself (a light summer robe, that can also double as a dressing gown), as Maeda-sensei informs me it`s a good place to buy them. As the evening drew to a close, we popped back to Jusco to get ice-cream and shortly afterwards returned to drop Lizzie and Christine off at Ichinomiya. Jess and I then faced the grand prospect of cycling the 40 minutes back to Haga in the dark, which was very tiring. We arrived about midnight, but I was fairly happy because I got to stop at the shrine (which will be the centre of the upcoming festival) on the way, which was beautifully lit up with lanterns in its woodland setting. It did also make me realise I *really* need a tripod for my camera, because, try as I may, I just can`t hold a camera perfectly still for long night exposures ^^;.
Okay, and update on the letters. I`ve recieved two packages from home now (thank you – the Be-Ro cookbook is great!) I did get some pictures printed in Yamasaki to send home with a letter soon, and a CD will come at a later date when my card is full. Chris, your letter will also be in the works sonn too, I promise.
Got to go now, Kendo in 30 minutes (and I have to rush dinner before that) and another dance recitial tomorrow night in preparation for the yosakoi dance party o.O;. I imagine I`ll be quite a sight at that, hehe.