Japan Time

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving was pretty much a typical day - I got up at little earlier than usual to meet Aya at the bike shop (my bike got a piece of bungee cord stuck in the chain...one of the joys of being confined to bike riding instead of driving) and we got some coffee and went to the library after that. They just built a libary here in the spring and it has an English section, which is really great. We headed to work after that and it was another crazy day as usual. One of my co-teachers has swine flu (yikes!) - she'll be fine, but she's taking the week off to recover...AND Miho is on her honeymoon in Hawaii! So, needless to say, we are short two staff members and BUSY.
After we finished work, Aya and I headed to an izakaya to celebrate Thanksgiving. But with no turkey to be found in Japan, we had to settle for some Japanese food instead:

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back home! Miss you much!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Just get me to the church on time!"

Yesterday, my co-worker Miho got married, and my other co-workers and I attended the festivities. Japanese weddings are a little different than American ones. Traditional Japanese weddings, with kimonos at the shrine, are not popular anymore. Many people want to have Western style weddings with the white dress and tux and all that. But even though these weddings look similar to American ones, Japan has put its own little twist on them.
These kind of Western/Japanese weddings usually take place in a building that looks similiar to a church, but are used only for weddings, nothing else. So it just has the look of a Western wedding.
After the ceremony, there's a reception type deal, but since the wedding starts a bit earlier than American ones (Miho and Sumi's started at 11 am), it's more of a lunch. There's a meal and some performances, like speeches or songs, slideshows, etc. No dancing, though.
After the reception, there's usually a second or even third party with just friends, no family. Miho and Sumi had their second party at a nice place in Shizuoka. We had a good meal and there were some games and raffles as well.
The third party was at a bar in Shizuoka with a DJ. We had ramen (what Japanese typically eat at the end of a long night of drinking) and there was a lot of good music. And toward the end of the night, people actually danced! I know that's expected at an American wedding, but people in Japan usually don't dance. They don't have proms or anything like that in high school and weddings don't have dancing at the reception. So I was pleasantly surprised to see people shaking their groove thing at the third party.
Also, the bride usually changes her dress a few times throughout the day. She wears the white dress during the ceremony and then changes to a really bright, colorful dress for the reception. Then maybe once more after that. Miho changed four times! She looked beautiful in each one, or course. The brides rent their dresses, not like in the States (thank goodness, since it would be super expensive to buy all those dresses).
I had a lot of fun at the wedding - and the greatest thing was that I wasn't the photographer, so I could relax and enjoy the day without stressing! But, even though I wasn't the hired photographer, I still took a lot of photos throughout the day.

Me and Aya eating onigiri (rice balls) in the early morning before the ceremony.

at Japanese weddings, it's really important to have a welcome board (photos, etc, of the bride and groom...and Miho and Sumi had the cutest one ever!
Michiko, Noriko, Yu, me, and Aya (my co-workers and I, minus one other teacher who was sick).

Reception room.

Cute centerpieces that we got to take home.

Bosses usually give speeches at the receptions (for some reason, the boss and co-workers of the bride and groom are almost more important than family). Michiko had to give a speech and she wrote it all out so she wouldn't forget.

Kanpai! (Cheers!)

The cake looked like Miho and Sumi at Tokyo Tower, which is where Sumi proposed.

Look at that cool dress!

At the second party with students and staff.

It's traditional in Japan, when drinking, to pour your neighbor's drink for them. Sumi was fully equipped with a beer backpack to ensure that his guests had beer whenever they needed it.

At the third party, with Noriko and Kenichi.

Miho enjoying some ramen.

My co-worker, Yu, playing some drums for the crowd.


At the end of the night (before we had to run - literally - to catch the last train back to Fujieda...the train workers held the train for us so we could rush on).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For those of you living in Japan...

I found a great website for buying import food:

The Flying Pig

From what I can tell, they ship anywhere in Japan and the prices aren't bad. As soon as I get my next paycheck, I'll definitely be doing some shopping there.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nabe Party!

Last night some co-workers and I had a nabe party. Nabe is a one-pot dish that's popular in Japan in the winter. It's boiled vegetables, meat, and other stuff cooked in a pot at a table with everyone gathered round to keep warm and help cook. My favorite is sukiyaki, which has a sweet soy sauce flavor. I love nabe!