Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21 - Day 5

Hello! I am Kiley Rowell, class of 2019. Today started with a granola based breakfast from Hirooka, my host mother, and watching the news. It was interesting as they often talked the U.S.  It was raining very hard this morning, as right now it's the rainy season in Japan. Sensei said we've been lucky with the weather up until now. Because of the heavy rain, Horooka gave both Jenna and I an umbrella and gave us very interesting advice: take our socks off on the walk to school and then put them on when we change into our school shoes so our feet won't be wet.

We found out that you really have to pay attention on the streets in Japan. We have about a fifteen minute walk to the bus stop, and the streets are so narrow, it can feel dangerous. But Hirooka said drivers are used to it here, and we walk on streets with side walks so it's fine, or as the Japanese say, daijoubu.

We got the bus to school, and the students were so much more polite than you'd find anywhere else. The bus was packed,  it they really tried to make room for us and help us. After we got to school we met our buddies, the students that stay with us, who helped us get to our classes. In my first class, Media 1, my buddy taught me kanji. I don't think that's what we were supposed to be doing, but everyone seemed fine with it, and I learned some new characters.

After that I had math class,and I really couldn't understand what was happening in that one, so I accidentally fell asleep. I'm told it's quite common for students in Japan to fall asleep in class and that the teacher doesn't really get mad. I came to regret that though, as we took a test on the material at the end of the period. Needless to say, I didn't do well. We have to check each other's tests, and e ermine cheered whenever I got an answer correct. It was embarrassing and fun and a small, great memory.

After math, I had English class. The students had to stand in front of class and have a conversation about what they want to be in the future, while grading each other's ability. I felt like if Sensei asked me to do that in our Japanese class, I would be so scared,  it the students did a great job. They then had to practice saying the word "six" as instead of an "s" sound many students make a "sh" sound. Tomorrow the topics in class are "is English important" and "is money or love more important." It's amazing that these students the same age as we are can do it!

After lunch we went to a tea factory. The factory was attached to a very old Japanese building, and the ceilings were so low. The tour guide explained Japanese people used to be so very short! Of course, one of us quickly hit our head in the ceiling (not saying who). Beautiful screens illustrated how tea was traditionally made during the Edo period in Japan and how it was transported from Kyoto to Tokyo. The owner of the building spoke pretty good English when explaining things, but we also had a Finnish tour guide helping translate.

We received a pamphlet that depicted how they currently make tea, and then we got to see that process in the factory. Before going in, we had to put on special suits so we wouldn't contaminate the tea. We put on white jackets, giant white hair nets, and masks, and everyone was unrecognizable. We watched how the tea was ground down into a fine powder for matcha, and got to taste it ourselves right out of the machine. Then we went into a room where they lined up every type of tea this place makes, and we got to both smell and taste each of them,  it was a little too bitter for me,but that's coming from someone that always loads their tea with sugar and honey. 

After tasting the tea, we had a tea ceremony, and luckily the lady wasn't very strict. She told us to relax and it was just fun. The tea was paired with delicious matcha themed sweets, and then went to the gift shops where I bought tea and more sweets. We were trying to take a group photo outside the factory, when a random man stopped his bike and offered to take our picture, just so everyone would fit. Everyone here is so kind, they really go out of their way to help you. 

After that we walked to the train station and headed home. Hirooka arrived home from work shortly after, and we went to the mall. Both Jenna and I bought an authentic Japanese kodama, and I bought a music book for my piano teacher. We went home and ate yakisoba, and when. Y stomach was too full, she also served us tofu. Tomorrow we have to give a presentation to elementary school kids, and so I worked on my notes. Hirooka helped me fix the many Japanese mistakes. We said goodnight, went to sleep, and another amazing day in Japan has been finished.

The history of tea

Preparing to enter the factory

Tea tasting and smelling

Tea ceremony and more tea tasting

In front of the tea building

Snacks served with tea
Natalie and her host sister. Sensei taught her when she was in elementary school!

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