Japan Time

Friday, January 2, 2009

Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu! (Happy New Year!)

Sorry that you all couldn't see my Christmas video. Apparently I am not YouTube savvy.

I had a wonderful visit with the Nishimuras (the family that took care of us when I came to Japan in 2005) in Chiba for the New Year. Here's the recap:

Took the local train to Shizuoka station and then the express bus to Tokyo. With the help of Keiko, my former host sister, I changed local trains at a few stations (getting lost along the way in true Bri-style) and finally arrived at Inzai Makinohara station - the very station that Laura, Kris, Mallory and I used to depart from for all our adventures. Minako, my other former host sister, picked me up at the station and we headed to Big Hop - the new shopping mall in Inzai (by the way, Inzai is growing and growing! When we were there, it was a small city with lots of fields and one mall. Now, I hardly recognize it. Apparently, it's the second fastest growing city in Chiba). Anywho, after Big Hop, we went to the parents' house (Dr. Shin and Keiko-sensei) for nabe.

(Big Hop - complete with Ferris Wheel)

(Me and Minako)

It was so good to see everyone at Dr. Shin and Keiko-sensei's house! Majelyn and her two kids (she was pregnant with her first one when we left), Keiko and Shuichi and their daughter (she was born about a year after we left), Minako, Dr. Shin, and Keiko-sensei. They took such good care of us when we were in Japan before and seeing them again was like seeing family.
After dinner, Keiko and I headed to a spa for a professional massage (my first ever). It was awesome. Minako wasn't feeling well, so I spent the night in her apartment by myself and she stayed at the kindergarten - she had to be there early for a fire inspection anyway.

(the view from Minako's apartment)


Minako, feeling much better, picked me up at her apartment and we went to the kindergarten to make omochi.

(Inzai Shion Kindergarten - our home away from home for three months)

for omochi, start with regular sticky rice...

then, pound the bejezus out of it

until it looks like this.

add natto, radish, or other japanese condiments and enjoy.

Yui-chan, Keiko and Shuichi's daughter

Nozomo-chan, Majelyn and Naoshi's son

After omochi, Majelyn and I tried some calligraphy with the help of Keiko-sensei:

this is mine...it says "faith"

Minako and I went to Katsuko-sensei's (she works at the kindergarten) house where there were many church members gathered for some karaoke fun.


Minako and I went shopping at the mall across from the church (where we used to go grocery shopping every week in 2005) and then we met up with the Tan-sans...our adopted Japanese grandparents! In 2005, the Tan-sans invited us over for dinner and taught us how to make Japanese food like curry and gyoza. When they heard I was back in Chiba, they asked me to come over for dinner and spend the night for New Year's. They're still as awesome as ever.

Mr. Tan, Mrs. Tan, and Mrs. Tan's sister

In Japan, the New Year is a time for family, not parties and drinking like the States. So, the Tan-sans' family came over (two sons, their wives, and two grandkids). We had yakiniku - which was awesome. They can't speak English very well, so there wasn't much talking, but it was still wonderful to see them again.

In the morning, we had a traditional Japanese New Year's meal: zoni soup and a lot of seafood. It was strange eating crab legs and shrimp at 9 am, but hey - I love those things, so who cares?

Then, it was off to church for a New Year's Day service.

me and osuka-sensei, one of the teachers at the kindergarten

naomi-chan, majelyn and naoshi's daughter

Then, after church, I had lunch at the Nishimuras' and then I headed back to Tokyo station to catch the bus back to Shizuoka.


Now I have a few days to relax until it's back to work on Tuesday - hooray!


Heidi Schmidt said...

I love love love calligraphy it's so much fun! Except that I learned it in Chinese! Yours looks like it turned out pretty good!

Kori said...

Hey it looks like you're having an awesome time! What a beautiful city! Happy new year! Keep the pictures coming they're awesome!

Kori said...

Alright, I gotta know... What's with the peace sign that EVERYONE flashes in ALL of your photos? Is that cool in Japan? Lol, it makes me laugh. Alot.