Sendai, Japan -- "I found myself in a delusional position -- thinking that it's odd to call a person you just met 15 minutes ago, your father. Yet it felt natural I guess, it just felt natural."
We arrived at the JENESYS hall in Miyagi prefecture -- 20 minutes late --which was quite unusual in Japan. I saw people staring outside from the window. We rushed upstairs and catched our facilitators apologizing.
"Suddenly I was nervous."
T'was like waiting to be adopted and you don't have a clue of who your parents might be or would be like. I reached the number and saw their names. I was quite fidgety that night.
"Hello!" "Ah! Konbanwa!" I don't know why I said that but I just did. She said to call her Ka-chan or mom. Too cute! Trophy (from Thailand) and I formally introduced ourselves and had some few talks.
Ka-chan (mom) said that To-chan (dad) was at work and he'll arrive at the evening. The ceremony didn't took that long and we had to leave soon.
We arrived at our foster parent's house. It was huge! They even had a farm! Ka-chan prepared our room before hand and it was magical! Everything felt so comfy, I was in complete awe! It was a chilly evening in the 16th of October and Mr. Autumn was kicking in. Ka-chan turned on the "floor heater" and apparently, I felt like a caveman.
The purpose of this part of the program is to totally immerse the participant in the Japanese family setting. I had to be honest. This was my best two days in Japan yet. I wish it was longer!
Ka-chan was preparing dinner at the kitchen while we were at the dining table. She's an unbelievable cook! It's like I'm living in an anime and she cooks all those amazing stuff that only your ka-chan could make! We had fish, furikake rice and homemade chiffon cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert! Ka-chan style! Surreal! Se prepared the bath and adjusted the thermostat of the tub. I was already amazed at this point until she revealed the most amazing thing yet: ONSEN POWDER! After setting the perfect temperature for the water, all you need is to sprinkle the green tea scented onsen powder and boy was I eager to dip in!
To-chan arrived; I was so nervous. I didn't know what to expect. We exchanged our introduction and he went to upstairs. He went down immediately in his yellow-cotton flannel and invited us for a talk at the dining room. He unveiled his plans for tomorrow. The next thing I knew, he was just as excited as we were!
ITINERARY: October 17 2015
7AM - Breakfast at the Minato Shiogama Fish Market! You will seriously have the whole market as your dining place! We got maguro, ebi (shrimp) and topped it up with donburi (rice bowl) and miso soup. Perfect for the cold morning!
9AM - We headed to the Matsushima Bay Islands! We rode the cruise and toured around the pristine islands! It was quite expensive though. (Dakara arigatou to-chan!)
Matsushima is located in the central region of Miyagi Prefecture. Some 260 islands, large and small, are scattered throughout the picturesque Matsushima Bay. The view of Matsushima changes from place-to-place and from-season-to-season, and the area is so beautiful that it has been designated as one of the three most scenic sites of Japan. In December 2013, Matsushima joined the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club. (Source: Japan National Tourism Organization)
11AM - We headed to the Zuiganji Temple and walked around for an hour. It was quite exhausting but every step inside was spectacular. Something that you don't see everyday!
Zuiganji Temple is one of the Tohoku Region's most famous and prominent Zen temples, and is well known for its beautifully gilded and painted sliding doors (fusuma). Zuiganji was originally founded in 828 as a temple of the Tendai sect, and was converted into a Zen temple during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). After years of decline, Zuiganji was restored to prominence by the feudal lord Date Masamune who rebuilt it as his family temple in 1609. (Source: Japan-guide)
1PM - It's lunch time! We head down to the nearest Ramen shop and had the best handmade shoyu ramen and gyoza (dumplings) in my entire life.
2PM - We felt we did almost everything but we were only starting! We drove to the place where the tsunami destroyed almost everything.
4PM - Drove back to our house and then went out immediately to stroll around the village with the dog. It was one of the simple things yet something that makes me smile.
6PM - It was almost dinner time. We went back, took a bath at the onsen and fixed ourselves. Then it's barbecue party! YUM!