Sunday, 18 January 2009

My Home Stay in Niigata

About two months back, I got to stay with a wonderful and young Japanese family in Niigata. My foster parents were extremely warm, generous and helpful. Whenever I said something English which they could not understand, they would start running to their dictionaries and we would learn from each other about our cultures and food at the dinning table. My foster parents are absolutely adorable like their children. When they speak, they are full of expressions on both their faces and with their gestures.

I stayed in a modern Japanese house where the kitchen is not walled into a room. Their bathroom was interestingly rather plastic-ky. I am not sure how to describe it exactly. The closest thing to it is the bathroom in the airplane with plastic shelves and compartments.

Despite her busy schedule, my foster mum brought Judy (LPY08) and I to the bath house and it was an exciting and new experience for me. I enjoyed the bath house thoroughly. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to take photos, hehehehe. It was winter but the water was really hot! So, you could see steam rising from the many different types of pools.

I enjoyed the school festivals as well. I went to two, one at my foster mum's school (she's a teacher) and the other at Karen's (my foster sister's) school. Fresh mochi is so so so yummy! It was exciting to look at classroom after classroom all full of students' projects on arts and design. They were paintings, structures made out of paper, plasticine models, puzzles of sorts, rubber stamps, wood work, all of which were made by students.

This is my foster dad fixing us breakfast

We are heading towards the Yahiko Shrine

A little sheltered bridge

People washing their hands before entering the shrine

Some sort of a gate tower

Figurine guarding the gate tower

A chrysanthemum plant with a lot of flowers. In Yahiko Shrine, they have the chrysanthemum festival every winter and workers were shifting big pots of chrysanthemum plants around the shrine's grounds.

The shrine

The way to worship at the shrine is to toss a coin and then clap two or three times before praying. I did those and prayed for ... something.

This works something like the fortune cookie. You pay some money at a counter and they'll pass you a little piece of paper. After you've read it, you tie it around a wooden structure with strings like this one here.

They had a gallery within the shrine's grounds. In one of the rooms, it showcased portrait paintings of all the past emperors and empress of Japan, according to my foster dad.

So, this is the first emperor of Japan.

I was really curious about this one. These look like nun clothing.

These are some school girls we met at my foster mum's school.

I had a go at pounding the mochi. The hammer is extremely heavy.

One of the paintings I saw in the classroom.

We met more students.

This is a traditional Japanese dish which my foster mum's mum made. It is famous in Niigata and it's called Noppe.

This was our lastnight where we were all exchanging photos.

We visited Karen's school before we went to the train station to meet up with the rest of the SG D members.

A wall full of children's paintings

There were many activities lined up for the students during the school festival. One of them was to use simple multimedia tools to design your own sticker. Here, the students are listening to the teacher giving a demonstration.

At the train station, there were some tears. The people at Niigata are extremely friendly and we all had a great time. Steven (VPY08) had wrote "I love Niigata" and pasted it on the window as the train started moving.

No comments: