Becky and I showed up to the Yoshida's house without any expectations.
First we made "inarizushi"- the little tofu skin pouches filled with sweetened rice. Kumi instructed me to boil 1 cup each of vinegar and sugar along with 20 grams of salt. We let the mixture cool a bit, then I poured it into the big wooden tub where Becky was packing the 10 cups of rice from the rice cooker. After we thoroughly mixed it (by "slicing" the rice with the spatulas, not "mushing" it around), Masami sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top of the rice, we carefully peeled apart the little triangle shaped tofu skins, splashed our hands with the sugar vinegar mixture (to keep the rice from sticking to our hands), grabbed a small handful of the slightly sweetened rice, and stuffed them into the golden brown "aburage". Simple. and delicious.
Next up: "maki soba". "Maki" means "roll", so it's the typical type of sushi we normally see (round pieces with seaweed wrapped around the outside, with rice & veggies or whatever on the inside). But,this one was different. It was Kumi's original idea to roll soba noodles instead of rice in the sushi! We laid the "nori" (seaweed) on the bamboo mat (there's supposedly a nice side and a not-so-nice side to the nori, but Becky and I couldn't really tell). Next, we carefully placed the (cooked) soba noodles on it, spread some wasabi (maybe too much?!?) on those, and then put 3 beans across. Then came the fun (but very skilled) part of rolling it. We were so busy video- taping Kumi that when it was our time to "roll" the sushi, we were basically fumbling idiots. She shook her head and patiently helped us until we formed what seemed to look like long black sushi rolls which she later cut into bite sized pieces.
The next sushi was the typical type of "maki sushi", this time using the rice that we had used for the inari sushi and typical fillings (egg, crab) as well as an interesting mix of Kumi's experiments: sausage, fish paste, spinach...
It was an awesome dinner- they had also invited a woman (Yoko-san) who would later on teach us to put on our yukatas (summer kimono) & obis (the colorful waist tie thingie). We dipped the "makisoba" sushi into the soba sauce and ate fresh beans and spinach from their garden. Dessert was Kumi's yogurt with marshmallows and exceptionally sweet grapefruit from Kyushu.
After dinner, we rushed into one of the tatami rooms where Kumi and Yoko ordered us to strip and get into our new yukatas. It was so much easier than getting into kimonos because we didn't need the multiple layers of undergarments and ties that are required in wearing a kimono. But tying the yukata obi was almost equally as complicated as tying a kimono obi. Since I have 2 yukatas, I had to learn to tie both types of obis, the soft flowing kind and the stiff narrow one. I really hope I can remember!!!