Mochi: a type of sweet that I think is best described as...dough filled with bean paste. Sounds amazing, I know. If you bite into one thinking that it's chocolate, you're sure to be highly disappointed and might even think that mochi is nasty. Trust me. Writing from experience here. BUT if you sink your teeth into it knowing what you're getting yourself into, it's really not so bad.
Koto: a traditional Japanese harp, as I mentioned last time.
As part of the homestay weekend, twelve other foreigners and I made mochi, played kotos, and did some other cultural activities when we weren't with our host families.
The first thing we did as a group was go to an onsen. (As a reminder, that's a Japanese public bath.) Nothing like bathing with a bunch of gals you've only just met to break the ice! I don't have any pictures of the onsen for obvious reasons, but this onsen was unusual because the water was a lime Kool-Aid green color due to sulfur. And the hallway smelled like eggs.
After eating egg salad sandwiches for lunch (not kidding!), we made mochi.
Super cute ladies who made the dough and helped us with mochi makin'.
Kiera (from Scotland) towered over this precious little lady.
After molding the dough, it was time to paint the mochi.
There were a few different molds to choose from: a kappa (a legendary creature of Japan -- pictured on the bottom and top of the tray), a flower, and a peach!
Guess which one I chose...
Just peachy. :)
We spent the afternoon playing with some cutie pie kids, and I didn't realize at the time that we'd end up in the next day's newspaper!...
After meeting up with our host families Saturday evening, we watched a koto concert together. Here's a little video from that:
After the concert, I sang "Sakura" along with one of the ladies and then tried playing the instrument...
Our last cultural activity of the weekend was doing shodo. (Japanese calligraphy)
This is the kanji for "friend." ("tomodachi" in Japanese) I painted my name in katakana down the left side.