Dear adoring fans, first let me say Happy Thanksgiving! Second, the ball photos are coming soon. We got some formal shots, and I’m waiting for them to come out before I write up the ball, but it should be any day now.
But we have some other catching up to do. Last weekend after the ball Saturday, we went to some shrine sales Sunday with Vida. Shrine sales are kindof like flea markets but with Japanese flavor and generally dealing with some slightly nicer stuff. A great place to find Christmas presents… ahem.
This particular shrine is Yasukuni Jinja, which memorializes Japanese soldiers, and is controversial for also enshrining war criminals. But it’s a good shrine sale, even if the nationalists do tend to parade around shouting things.
After, we went up to Iidabashi in search of lunch, and found this adorable little cafe right on the water. A bunch of families were renting row boats and rowing around (with varying degrees of success) and there were also masses of coi, which we threw fish food to and watched them mass in a big ball ‘o squirming fish right beneath us.
Then we caught a train out to Kichijoji for a Thanksgiving party with Jason, his wife Yuko, and a number of their friends. It was a really fun time — a number of them play instruments or sing so there was impromptu music while we waited for the pie. Also, I’d just like to note that I’m not stepping on Yuko’s foot in the picture, I swear. Dylan and Katie (whose house it was) even have an oven, so it was a full proper thanksgiving meal.
Then the next week we had a birthday dinner for Vida on Monday at our favorite Shabu Shabu place. We had a lovely evening, although we had our first encounter with a rare and obnoxious creature: the utterly clueless American. We find that either excessive loudness or prominently visible thong underwear are tolerable, but both at once is just a bit too much. The waitresses all looked a little irritated, but that may have been because they all took the bathroom shoes (the traditional wooden Japanese sandal) and wore them to the table. I believe Vida may have taken a photo (but you will all breath a sigh of relief that it is not currently in my possession.) Yes, we have graduated from taking pictures of Japanese people, to taking pictures of Americans. The offender did, however, provide an opportunity to review astrological signs as I had to verify for the others that the tattoo on her butt was Scorpio.
Jen had Wednesday off for Thanksgiving, so we went to the Edo museum (which Jen already posted a bunch about, so I’ll just add a few things.) Their models were amazing, and really show “old Japan” in a viscerally understandable way. Of course, exhibits that let you carry buckets or climb into palanquin are also good for helping the imagination along. Those palanquins are small!
We also picked up quite a few random tidbits. For example, historically Japanese women weren’t allowed to lie down for several days after childbirth since it was believed that the blood would run up toward their head. The sign commented that the lack of sleep often caused health problems. Nothing like depriving new mothers of even more sleep to make everybody living in the one room house super cranky…
Thursday, Jen and I decided that what we really wanted was a quiet, relaxing Thanksgiving, so we opted to make ourselves a two-person sized (plus left-overs… best part!) Thanksgiving dinner, put on West Wing in the background, and play strategy games against each other. Needless to say it was an awesome day.
Since we are in Japan, we decided to have sake with our turkey, but otherwise we went pretty classic. I could only find pre-made stuffing in a cornbread variety, so I got fancy with that (Jen, being slightly off in the head, doesn’t like stuffing) adding green chillies, sausage, onion, etc. We also discovered that Japanese yams are SERIOUSLY starchy, although with enough butter, sugar, pecans, and evaporated milk, they still tasted awesome.
Today Jen had to go back to work but I headed down to Yokohama with Vida (after imbibing in the first leftovers sandwich of the year). We started off taking a spin around the Ferris wheel, since the sky was so clear, and got some great views, including of Fuji-san. Then we wandered around, did some shopping, got some lunch, and checked out some repurposed brick warehouses down on the water. There’s also a nice-looking square rigged ship down there, but we were running out of time, so we will have to return.
Then right as we were heading back toward the train we realized “the tallest building in Japan” (unverified, so claims the Ferris Wheel announcer) had an observation deck on top, so we headed up. We got some great views, although Fuji was nearly invisible by that time. We took some seriously goofy photos with some props they have up there, but I may have to post those at a later time.
All in all, a fun day, and a great week! We have one more thanksgiving day party to celebrate this weekend, but I believe this is a “mexican thanksgiving” due to the lack of oven in the Japanese housing. Should be fun!