My mother, brother, and I with the teachers of Ena Kita Jr. High. In back of my brother and I is the new, super-cute math teacher, at the ripe old age of 22! To the right of my bro is Katsuno sensei, who spent the evening teaching us how to fold origami, which is not easy for most gaijin when they are sober, let alone slightly intoxicated. The woman hiding behind Colin`s fat head (just kidding Colin:) is the coolest teacher I work with, and the organizer of this festive event: Kachi sensei, whose rice cooker recently exploded at 6:00 Tuesday morning, covering my kitchen in a gooey, green pea sludge.
The Gassho-zukuri style houses (so named because they resemble hands in prayer), of Shirakawa village are famous world-wide. The steep, peaked roofs help to keep the massive amounts of snow that falls in Northern Gifu from accumulating and crushing the house. The thatch, like so much else here, is made from a special kind of rice plant, and is about a meter thick.
Taking tea at the hearth of a gassho-zukuri home. The smoke from this ever burning fire, over the centuries, has stained the wood of the home a deep, glossy black (note the wall behind us). The noren (japanese style curtain) hanging behind was made by the home's owner from her grandmother's maiden kimono (its a meiji era furisode kimono, meaning a kimono she wore before she got married). It was stunning.
From the freezing snow of Northern Gifu we went south to Miyajima. My mother and I walked down to the shore rockin' our ryokan yukatas to watch the sun rise over the famous floating Torii. Of course, it only appears to be floating when the tide is in. My brother had woken up early and decided to climb up Mt. Misen in his yukata. By the time we woke up he was long gone, and didn't get back until almost 10:30.
The floating torii ( a spiritual gate that marks an entrance to a shinto shrine).
Our first night in Kyoto was also the first night of the Kiyomizudera Spring Illumination.
Kiyomizudera, the Temple of Pure Waters, shines like a star in the heavens☆.
Katsugiku, one of the many maiko and geiko my brother and I crossed paths with as we wandered the streets of Gion at night.
Kyoto turns pink in the spring, as clouds of blushing blossoms cling to the trees.
The Golden Pavillion, Kyoto.
The joyful expression that only a plate full of fish head can bring.
My mother made friends everywhere we went!
My three moms...
My host family from the good ol' Gaidai days.