The day after I got back from Okinawa was the 30th of December. On this day at
Mizuki chan's house all her relatives come over super early in the morning and make
their own mochi using the rice they grow on their small property. After I got back
from Okinawa on the 29th I went to nomihoudai (all-you-can-drink) with friends and
had only a few hours sleep so I wasn't feeling too chipper on this particular
morning, but I still made it (somehow) to Mizuki's house to watch these old
people make their new year snack. No regrets!

Mizuki has a lot of genki old relatives. Her grandfather had eight siblings or
something. It was so cool seeing them do this traditional thing that would be only
possible with such a huge amount of relatives. Maybe the next few generations of
Mizuki's family will have to buy their mochi from the supermarket. Such is one result
of Japan's dramatically declining birth rate.

Seeing these old men chop wood was AWESOME. Stay genki, Japan.

Three of about seven or eight of the obaachans that were cooking in the kitchen
this day.

Thank you for having me, Ogawa family! It was SO cool.

The following day I was catching a train to the countryside to visit my Japanese
apopted family in Ota, Gunma!

We ate crab nabe for dinner and stayed up until midnight watching NHK's end of year
music special hosted by Arashi. I got to stare at Matsu Jun all night long. It was
a great way to bring in the new year. 

I asked my Ojiichan what he did as a child on New Years Eve and he told me that
because it was during the war they didn't have much money. I really want to talk to
him about his life because I imagine he must have seen Japan go through so many 
crazy changes: Japan during war time, post war American occupation of Japan, the
economic boom and collapse as well as the emergence of kawaii culture. But alas, I
literally understand nothing he says because of his muffled grandfather way of

On New Year's Day we all woke early and went to the nearby temple and did the New
Year thing. It was nice.

Here's my Okaasan picking out a little something for me. This family is so generous
I die from having too full a heart every time I visit them.

Family udon noodle time.

Before I knew it I was heading back to Inage on the train with a bag full of
snacks from Okaasan. The following day I found myself back in class with my pals
being confused about Japanese grammar as per usual.

All in one week, Kyle came back from visiting his family in Canada, Aladdin popped
into Japan on his way back to Sydney after doing an exchange in London and Tiff
and her friends came to visit for a ski trip! Ps. How hilarious is Kyle's face in
this picture? He was pretty jet lagged at the time so maybe that explains the
extreme degree of squint.

I fall more in love with Inage beach each time I go there. On this day there was
a kite flying competition!

Aladdin and I sat here for a long time watching this old man do his jazzercise on
the beach. Come back soon, okay?