Since we didn't have school today, our host family took us on a day trip to Lake Biwa in nearby Shiga Prefecture and then to Mount Hiei. Both are about a two hour drive away from home, and for a road trip, you need music, right? So we jammed out to the Beatles the whole way. Eventually we got hungry so we made a short stop at McDonalds of all places. However, let me tell you, it is a lot better than an American McDonalds.
Mt Hiei is a sacred mountain known as the mother of Japanese Buddhism. It was an absolutely beautiful sight to be seen. We walked to the peak of the mountain where there were a plethora of different temples dedicated to the different gods of Buddhist faith. There is also a very large bell that the patrons are allowed to ring, so of course we couldn't resist.
When we arrived home, our family took us to a restaurant up the street that specializes in shrimp tempura and corn soup, a strange but delicious combination. I know my day might not sound as interesting as others, but words can't express how amazing it was. By far today was the best day of the trip yet.
A note from Balsomico-Sensei
Today all the students went to different places with their host families, so each student's experience is. Unique. I'll try to get everyone to write about what they did, but to sum up some of the things I've heard so far:
Natalie went to Kinkakuji (a golden temple surrounded by a lake) and Kyoto Tower. Her host family loaned her a yukata (summer kimono) which she wore throughout the day, and had the chance to make Wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets
Matt also went to Kinkakujiand Kyoto Tower, as well as a variety of temples and shrines throughout the area, including Ryoan-ji and Myoshin-ji.
Brandon went to a Japanese hot spring called an onsen.
Kira was taken on a three hour drive to Ise by the ocean, which has Japan's most sacred temple, Ise Jingu.
Keith went to Byodo-in, a temple featured on the 10 yen coin, the Tale of Genki museum (the worlds first novel), and Fishimi-Imari Shrine, where you walk through tunnels of thousands of red Torii gates.
Jenna and Kiley also went to Kinkakuji and Fushimi-Inari, as well as a traditional textiles museum where they got to make various cloths in the old way. They also went to see a kimono show.
Eddie had a barbecue with his extended family Friday night, but was so busy on Saturday he hasn't had the chance to share.
Finally Shaler was featured in both a local newspaper and the main Kyoto City newspaper! As soon as I have the time to translate it I will post that as well!
Natalie with her host family
Kira with her family
Jenna and Kiley were interviewed by three groups of school students, whose assignment was to find out why different foreigners came to Japan
Kira with an octopus
Matt touring a Buddhist temple
Jenna and Kiley with their host mom at Kinkakuji
Natalie making wagashi
Kira at a pond near Ise Jingu
Matt at Ryan-ji