Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Our first visitor!

My incredibly brave uncle was visiting recently for 4 days so we were too busy sightseeing and eating Japanese food (soba, ramen, tempura, sushi and sake-lots of sake!) to blog. We hope we were good hosts. First we showed him all that little Shimosuwa had to offer (2 shrines and a big Buddha!). The next day we headed to Matsumoto, ate some yakisoba and then toured the castle, which was quite impressive. In a stroke of traveler's synchronicity, my uncle had recently been to New Zealand where he saw an exhibit of the artist Yayoi Kusama. There is a picture of her at this site: Well, she is from Matsumoto and has an installation outside their art museum. Here's a picture of he and John outside the museum. (Yayoi Kasuma loves dots!)

The next day we went to Nagano City to see the Zenko-ji. This is an amazing Buddhist temple made even cooler because it's a sect that allows women to be priestesses. We didn't see any that day, but we did see some monks doing sand painting and other monks engaged in a ritual involving fire, drumming and chanting. Perhaps they were preparing for the Dalai Lama's visit there next week.

My uncle kept having those moments where he was aware that he was actually IN Japan. We kept having those moments that we actually LIVE in Japan. Showing some one else around you get to see how much Japanese you DO know and how much you know about a place. Obviously, Japanese culture is vast and the language is very difficult. But, we feel like we are starting to get our bearings here now. At least we feel pretty comfortable being here and getting around. Thanks to our first visitor for helping us realize that!

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