My favorite part of this trip was being able to spend so much time with my family. Met my second cousins for the first time (well, I had met Hinako before, but she was about 18 months old and therefore has no recollection of me). I stayed in Kofu for 2 days, and Ogawamachi for about 6 days with each of my uncles' families.
I can't even wrap my mind around how grateful I am that my family treats me like family, instead of a gaijin. If you've spent any amount of time in Japan, you should have picked up that foreigners are treated spectacularly different, and if you've spent even more time there, you will have come up against the frustration of being friended, but never truly integrated, into Japanese culture. When my three-year old cousin Kotaro grabbed my hand while exploring my grandmother's house, I nearly teared up. Both he and his sister call me "Madika oneechan" (older sister) which is what their mother used to call me when we were children.
I also got to hang out a bit with my older uncle's children as well. Takuya is living down in Kansai, and Kiyoteru is married with a one-year old. It took me about 2 days to really understand that it's been 10 years, and the shy teenagers that I remembered had magically turned into adults.
I hadn't been to my older uncle's house since I first arrived in Japan in September 2001. September 11, 2011, to be exact. Kiyoteru was the one who broke the news that what I was seeing on the television was not a movie. Good times. And now my uncle with a puppy.