Autumn is a beautiful time to be in Japan, and good company and great food make it a dream come true.
18.01.2009 4 °C
So the fall was, once again, a wonderful time to be in Japan. The mountainsides turned colours only ever seen in dreams and books. The earth finally cooled down after the summer months and I found myself getting out everyday to enjoy walks in the national park near my home. It is such a blessing to live in such a beautiful place.
On the American Thanksgiving weekend, my dear friend Masami made the journey from Tokyo to Oakayama to hang out with friends and family over the holiday. (Though the Japanese don’t celebrate Thanksgiving they do have a three-day weekend). You remember Masami, she is the Japanese girl from Nimii who left to live in New York for 14 years and suddenly found herself deported last year.
Well, I joined Masami for a couple days in Nimii, enjoying the opportunity to be a fly on the wall of a Japanese home full of people just being themselves. No bowing and posturing, just straight up homey goodness.
Masami’s mother and aunt are stylists in a salon owned by Masami’s family. Being a stylist is a very busy job in Japan and requires real talent. Stylists are responsible for getting people in and out of kimonos for weddings, coming of age ceremonies, and any other time a woman puts on a kimono. One of the most beautiful and creative parts of a kimono is the obi. It is always studied, and it is essential that the obi is tied with care, creativity, and imagination. The obi is what makes the kimono.
Anyway, it was a busy day for the ladies when I was out in Nimii as there was a wedding to prepare for and a coming of age ceremony. The shop was full of kimonos, wigs, curlers, make-up, and hairspray. When the wedding kimono was delivered to the shop we ooo’d and aaah’d over the intricate design and how it cost just under $3000 TO RENT for the day. That just left me stunned. It was at this point that Masami’s mother asked me if I wanted to put it on so I said, uh YEAH! We didn’t put the obi on, of course, but I put on the robe. I felt like a white whale in a Christmas tree.
Only days later we had our annual American Thanksgiving lunch and football game at the home of some of my other English teacher friends.
I would say about 70% of the teachers here are American, so I have quite a few American friends now and I am quite in habit, after two years, of celebrating Thanksgiving in November. Well, it was a feast! And this year our Japanese friend, who we call Georgie, had his wife and new baby with him. Having a little cooing bundle of giggles around is always a lovely addition to any holiday. I think our friend Andrew fell in love!
There was turkey, stuffing, and good friends, everything necessary for an unbelievable Thanksgiving dinner.
After dinner, and a little time to let it settle, we headed off to the park for the annual American Football game. The biggest problem seemed to be dividing into teams, but once we got that out of the way we were trucking.
Well, long story short, a good time was had by all and we rounded off the day with leftovers and a game of Taboo. What an amazing day! I am so thankful for my friends here. They have enhanced my time in Japan so much and they will be sorely missed when we all go our separate ways again.
Another important group of friends here in Japan are those of the Japanese persuasion. Despite my inability to express myself in Japanese and their inability to express themselves in English, they still invite me to every outing, every community volleyball tournament, and every house party. They have been overwhelmingly accepting of me and my differences. That is very hard for Japanese people. They like things, and rules, and people to all be the same. It is what makes them comfortable. Anything outside of this disturbs the Japanese “wa” and these friends of mine don’t seem to care how different I am. They love how crazy I am cause they are all crazy too. So, with that said, I was invited to the usual monthly party at my neighbours house in November. It was a bit of a pre-Christmas party, and, once again, a good time was had by all!
I really can't say enough about how kind these people have been to me. I have decided that I will not be staying a third year in Japan, which means that very soon I will have to leave all these people behind. I cannot tell you how sad that makes me. These people, the ex-patriots, the teachers, and the Japanese friends, have dramatically reshaped the landscape of my life over the last 18 months and I will forever hold them close to my heart. You will all be sorely missed my friends, but let's make the best of the time we have left.