Monday, February 18, 2013

Destination Shitara, Japan

What an amazing journey it has been! From Narita Airport in Tokyo, we flew over Mt. Fuji to the city of Nagoya. 

About 240,000 people live in Nagoya. We spent the night in Nagoya and toured the Nagoya Castle in the morning.

After lunch, we made the three-hour drive through the mountains to the beautiful city of Shitara. Shitara is comprised of several small rural villages totaling about 6,000 people. The roads were very narrow and winding in the mountains. It was quite an adventure! Some of the forest animals unique to Shitara include monkeys and wild boar. We did see one monkey as we were driving. What a surprise!

There is a community in Shitara called Damine. Damine has been there for at least 500 years.  At the top of a big hill in Damine, we were welcomed with a beautiful traditional tea ceremony. This was a great honor for us.
There is an iron pot that is being heated by charcoal in the floor. There is a special incense in the charcoal that makes the room smell lovely. You can see the wooden ladle to the left of the pot. The man is handing out treats. The woman is preparing green tea. 
The sweets were almost too pretty to eat!
Cherry blossom tea-with real cherry blossoms. It tasted a little salty, but delicious!
These "bushes" actually contain green tea leaves that are harvested by hand.

Later, we met our host families. They were so warm and welcoming! Once at their homes we wore “tanhen” robes which keep you very warm, since there is no central heating. It felt very cozy to sit on the floor around a big table under big blankets and heated floor as we talked and get to know one another.
My host-sister, Naomi, is a fifth grade teacher in another town. 

In one of the rooms, there was a beautiful display of traditional dolls to celebrate a special holiday called Hinamatsuri. 

No comments:

Post a Comment