I started out for Nagoya on the 7:59 train; and from there it was an adventure. There was heavy snowfall outside of Nagoya, so the trains were running about 15 minutes late. On top of that, I had to wait about 20 min. for a train. I took the next available Hikari, which is slower than the super-express Nozomi, but it still cost about 5400 for a reserved seat.
After literally grabbing a Cafe Mocha at the now-familiar Porta Starbucks outside of Kyoto Station, I jumped onto the Number 5 bus for the Kyoto School of Design. Emi mentioned in her e-mail that it normally took about 40 minutes from the station. I caught the 10:20 bus, and we crawled along, hitting every possible traffic light. I made a mad dash for the meeting place at around 11:15 and met up with the other two students, a mother and daughter from Chicago.
Emi quickly made us welcome in her small home. It was very traditional, with tatami mats and a space heater, and the floors were really cold (the high was only about 34 in Kyoto, although the snow hadn't yet reached the city). She handed each of us a food glossary, allowed us to help out with various steps, and offered us several kinds of tea, including hojicha and genmaicha. We were enlisted to grate lotus root, cut carrots into decorative shapes, zest a yuzu using a santoku (I skipped all knife-related tasks in favor of keeping all my digits), devein prawns, etc. We ate our handiwork as we went along.
There was a little mix-up on the second dish, which was supposed to be a steamed mixture of lotus root, yuba, and seafood. Emi had partially blanched the fish and prawns prior to steaming them, and the other two students started eating the semi-raw fish and vegetables after the bowls were arranged (luckily, I only had a piece of soybean skin in my bowl, so no harm done). Along the way, Emi had us taste the raw ingredients (minus fish).
The final dish was shiratama mochi. I've made mochi on base, but this was the first time I'd used powdered rice flour and boiled the mochi. They were topped with anko, homemade red bean paste (I asked Emi for her recipe, since I'm quite partial to anko). The afternoon flew by, and I headed back to Nagoya on the Nozomi with a non-reserved seat (my mistake!), so it was standing room only all the way back to Komaki (next time, it's worth the $10 for a reserved seat!).