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Family Togetherness

Last Sunday was full of being with the family. In the morning, my host mom, father (who was back from Nagoya for the weekend), host sister and I went to a temple to pray for one of my host mom's dead relatives. In Buddhism you have to go to pray at the temple on the 3rd, 7th, 13th,  17th etc. anniversary of the person's death. We all wore black (even my host sister had a black pantsuit).

The temple looks exactly as you'd expect it to.
It was a beautiful fall day; chilly but the colors of the tree were absolutely stunning. When I picture "Japan" in my mind, it's usually something like this.
We went inside and spoke with the monk and his wife. I'm pretty sure they live there, since the main room was set up to meet guests and was connected to the alter itself. The side rooms I saw as we walked past had chairs etc. and looked lived in. When we went to the temple, we sat down on folding chairs in a line while the monk began chanting--really, it was more like singing. After a bit, we opened up a pamphlet we were given and chanted along with him. Then we got up one by one and took two pinches of incense, touched them to our forhead and sprinkled them onto hot coals. Then you bowed, prayed silently, turned and bowed to the monk, and then returned to your seat.

With the smell of incense, and the monk chanting behind you while banging rhythmically on a drum the whole thing was actually rather trippy. I spent most of it, when I wasn't chanting along, looking for pictures in the incense smoke.

Afterwards, we went outside to the grave and each lit incense for that as well. Then you took a dipper of water and splashed it over the grave.

For dinner, my family as well as my host father's relatives (brother and wife, parents, and nephews) all went out to eat Chinese. It turned out to be a MASSIVE SEVEN COURSE DINNER.

First up was jellyfish with bitter greens in some sort of mustard sauce.
I can honestly say I didn't like it. The jellyfish tasted all right, but it was crunchy and squishy at the same time. And the greens were, as I said, pretty bitter. So I tried some of everything and then said pass, as did my host sister.

Then there was a sashimi salad, with greens, tuna, and fried wonton skin. It was delicious because the tuna just melted in your mouth. Besides the dessert, this was my favorite course.

Fried softshell crab and chicken. The crab was so good, crispy without being greasy and light and fluffy inside. The little bowl had salt in it. Second favorite course!

After that, I forgot to take pictures. My bad! But then there was a thick chicken soup with glass noodles, a noodle and vegetable dish with creamy shrimp, Japanese sweet potatoes and meat in this sweetish barbeque sauce, "chahan" or chinese rice, and for dessert blue cheese icecream with walnut and honey. That was surprisingly delicious, because the blue cheese wasn't that strong, and with the honey it had just the right amount of sweetness.

All in all, a lovely evening, even if I didn't want to see another food product for a day.

And on a side note, Nanowrimo = completed! (Even if the story is far from finished, I hit my 50k, whoo!)


  1. The food sounds great - I'm with you on soft-shell crab.
    Congrats on the 50,000 words. Is this a novel you'd want to keep working on?

  2. Yum, food! You know I'm extremely jealous just for that...
    Congratulations on 50k!! Yay winning!!!! Also, way to stay on a nice constant upwards stream, always nicely on schedule... you rock!! Miss you... Do you still want the precalc (insert sheepish, very, very, very, very ashamed puppy pout here)?


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