Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I am staying in my third cousin's house.  Her mother in law lives on the bottom floor and I share one of the vacant rooms in the grandmother's quarters with the butsudan (shrine to the family's ancestors).  Every night I pull my futon and comforters out of the closet and make my bed and every morning I put them away again.   After I put my bed away and go upstairs for breakfast the obachan (granmother) comes into the room and lights incense at the shrine and says prayers to the family's ancestors.  

Every night my third cousin draws a bath in the upstairs big bathtub and the whole family takes turns washing.   The Japanese style is to first scrub yourself down until you are squeaky clean and then get into the hot bath for relaxation time.  It might seem strange that everyone shares the same bath water, but if you really clean yourself first you aren't making the water dirty at all.

Admission:  My third cousin commented that I didn't wash my hair very often - all the Japanese women I have known seem to wash their hair every day compared to my every three days... four days?  So now as I am finishing my bath I run the hair dryer so they think I have washed my hair every day!  Ha, I know this is really silly... but who wants to be the dirty girl?  I don't agree with washing my hair every day, so this is just for them... oh, what Japan makes you do sometimes.

And, above: this is the obachan using the kotatsu, a table with a heater underneath that you put a blanket over to keep the heat in.  It is like a dream in the winter time to curl up under this table!
Ok, so last night we had sukiyaki.  Sukiyaki involves grilling meats and vegetables in a sort of sweet sauce made with shoyu (soy sauce), mirin (rice cooking wine), and sugar. Here are the dishes laid out in preparation for the meal.  
Mushrooms (shitake and enoki), tofu and noodles made out of sweet potato and rice.
You put this small grill on the table with a cast iron skillet and everyone sits around the grill and one or two people cook the foods.
My cousin's husband seasoning the meat.  Mmm.. so delicious and so much delicious beef!  I really like this cooking the food at the table and eating it right as it is finished.  So interactive!


vanessa said...

two delicious posts in one day! yum!

Rachel S said...

Your title reminded me of sunkist Santa Cruz days, riding in your volvo in our thrift store boots to some tequila-soaked destination with Slim Gaillard on the 'pod. Miss ya!

kelly-inkagoshima said...

Oh god, I know, it is still one of my top 10 favorite songs! And what an era! I'd love to serve up some high balls and watch 9 to 5 right now!