17th December 2008. I took a 3-hour train from Shinjuku to Nagano to meet my host family for the first time.

nagano2 by you.

I enjoyed the journey very much. The scenery was the best i’ve ever seen through a train window.

nagano1 by you.

Nagano is a mountain place. Colder than other big cities.

nagano3 by you.

Snow mountains everywhere.

3 hours later i reached Matsumoto. And Yuriko was at the station waiting for me with her daughter Ai chan.

nagano4 by you.

Just 1 minute after meeting me she was already posing for my camera. ^^

nagano5 by you.

Going back home to the snow white house. If you remember. Neh, my attic bedroom which has a window that allows me to gaze at the shining stars in the nightsky lying on my bed. 🙂

nagano7 by you.

Ai chan wanted to play with me.

nagano6 by you.

This is not a fan, but a halogen heater. Cool leh. Well i don’t mean cool, cool.

nagano8 by you.

I was immediatedly treated to one of Matumoto’s specialty: Ringo.

(Which is also the main reason why i began feeling apprehensive about my own name because every single day Yuriko asked the kids “do you wanna eat Ringo?” and no matter how i tried to dismiss it as a joke [which it is not, she was dead serious] it sounded wrong.)

nagano9 by you.

And some savory snacks.

nagano10 by you.

Yuriko’s other kid, Kai, was very shy though. He refused to say hello to me.

(I dislike kids who refuse to say hello to me. I want to stuff their heads into the oven. But Kai was ok. He said hello to me on the third day or something. So i stopped wanting to stuff his head into the oven.)

Yuriko then brought me next door, to her parents’ house. Yuriko’s house is western cottage style while the parents’ one is traditional Japanese Washitsu.

nagano13 by you.

Met Obaasan and Ojisan. And immediately i was treated to more local delicacies.

nagano11 by you.

Kaki. Home made dried persimmon. Another specialty of Matsumoto city.

nagano12 by you.

And some savory snacks.

At this point i was beginning to feel like a chimpanzee in the zoo. Everybody wants to feed me something.

The grandparents were very impressed by me. Or rather, i’d say that they were a little too easily impressed by anything at all. They ended everything with “sugoine!”, means, wow, great kinda thing. And they say it “sungoine” with a heavy nasal tone, which according to TK only very old people will use. And then we always like to mock the way they say it, cuz very very cute!

Anyway. They were like,

“You know how to speak Japanese? Sungoine!”
“You know how to speak Mandarin too? Sungoine!”
“And Malay also? Sungoine!”
(It was a lie. I can’t speak Malay to save a dying pregnant lizard.)
“Is that your camera? Sungoine!”
“You take nice pictures! Sungoine!”

The list goes on.

They are one of the friendlist people i have met. Especially Ojisan. He seems to be fascinated with everything that’s been existing over the last 3 decades.

nagano14 by you.

Yuriko then prepared dinner for us while i watched the weather forecast for the next day.

nagano15 by you.

Really reaaaaaaally wonderful dinner for two adults and two kids (at least that was what i thought that day.) I was so touched and i felt so bloody lucky my foster mom can cook such amazing dinner (at least that was what i thought that day), and thought like, omg imma be a Japanese food expert in no time (yea, that was what i thought that day).

But, in actual fact, there’s something about Yuriko’s cooking that is… Well, i will tell you in the next entry.