We began our morning with Art giving the family lessons on how to prepare oatmeal. My cousin, Masako learned that we ate oatmeal so she hunted down a box for us. The directions called for round onions. We were aghast so Art showed them how we prepare it with some fruit. Who knows? Maybe it would have been good with round onions?
My aunt invited us to look at her garden and we had fun noticing different flowers and plants. She even had a kiwi vine producing fruit. She said this flower was lavendar.
We thought these flowers looked like orchids.
Her garden was very lush but like every place we went, full of garden spiders which I cringed at. I do suffer from arachniphobia.
My aunt is a historian, rock enthusiast and amateur archaeologist. She shared some of her 3,000 year old rocks, crocks and arrow heads with my brother who shares her interest. I collect stones for him from around the world.
My cousin Tomoko who is Masako's sister drove us to my mother's family zen temple. I've been there three times; the first time as a college student, the second time with my two children and Art and today. Each time, the temple has doubled and tripled in size and grandeur. My mother's cousin took over the congregation and temple from my mother's father since my uncle (her brother) decided to become a judge. Her cousin passed away and now his son will be taking over the temple after he completes his studies.
This room within the temple is where the Meiji Emperor (great grandfather of the present Emperor) once visited and slept. Perhaps they're waiting for Emperor Akihito to come and visit also.
This 400 year old tombstone/shrine holds a third of my grandfather's ashes along with ashes of previous zen priests of this temple.
This grave site shrine is for all those people who no longer have families to tend to their graves.
This shrine is dedicated to children who have died either through miscarriage or very young.
After visiting with the family and paying our respects we were on our way to Matsushima which is considered one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
Tomoko's car was a compact van but fit 6 people very comfortably. It was also fully equipped. We were quite impressed!
We climbed up a tower to see an absolutely gorgeous view of the area.
We then visited a zen temple site called Zuiganji. This was another temple built for Masamune Date, the warrior lord.
After that, we were more than ready for lunch. We ate hot soba (buckwheat noodles) and mochi (rice cake balls) at an outdoor restaurant. It was just the pick up that we needed.
Matsushima was indeed beautiful and we were thrilled that it did not rain! We expected a typhoon to hit. We're still expecting it sometime.
When we got home, my chef uncle and aunt prepared another incredible gourmet meal of sukiyaki with various side dishes which my mom was thrilled to serve! What a day!
Tomorrow, Tomoko-chan will be taking the day off from work to drive us all to the train station. We have enjoyed our stay with them so much and had a beautiful evening filled with laughter and joy. I'll miss my aunt and uncle and cousins. I can only hope that they will visit us all someday in Hawaii. I've promised them a Cousins' Party if they do.