crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Chupa Chup Affair

After 10 years of dating, last night, Sunday, November 27th, Mie and Hidenori finally tied the knot.

A very Western wedding, their special day started with a romantic candlelit ceremony. Mie wore a flowing white gown with train and veil, and Hidenori a dashing tux. Mie read a speech for her parents which brought tears to the eyes of many guests. They both wear wedding bands which is atypical for Japanese couples.

The ceremony was followed by a lavish reception in an elegant wedding hall. Approximately 110 people were in attendance (excluding myself and Tressa, who were invited only to the afterparty). Mie wore an orange-creamsicle coloured ballgown and looked magnificent. At the reception a meal was served and more speeches were made.

At about 8:30pm Tressa and I showed up at Zucca, a quaint Italian restaurant that had been rented for the Second Party. The bride and groom were 1.5 hours late for this event!! Who knows what they were up to! ;)

About 40 people attended the Second Party where an enormous buffet of Western delicacies was served. The food, and unlimited alcohol, was free. Mie and Hidenori had selected special music for the party, much of which was Western. Games such as BINGO were enjoyed by all; Tressa won a paper shredder (woot!).

Mie had changed into a dark-teal cocktail dress that was rather eighties in style, but spectacular. Hidenori wore a suit. After the cake-cutting Mie made Tressa and I get pictures taken with her beside the cake... she served me (insert: forced me to eat) some cake right off the knife, like a groom should do! How embarrassing!

Seemingly a traditional party favour for Japanese weddings, chupa chups were given to all guests at the Second Party... weird. These lollies made an appearance at Yoko & Makoto's wedding too!

Overall it was a spectacular time. We were very lucky to have been invited to help Mie and Hidenori celebrate their wedding! CONGRATULATIONS!!


    • At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      This is all true....Japanese weddings entail a galore of Chupa Chups and many different gowns. Im pretty happy with my paper shredder although I have nothing to shred..hmmm... maybe i should shred that shirt i wore to the wedding since it makes me look skoshi humongous! haha.thank you mie and hidenori, you are such wonderful people and i am happy to have met you!

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Goodbye Neil

My co-worker, Neil, is leaving Japan (for good) tomorrow. **sniff, sniff** Neil lived in Iwama for just over a year and is being replaced by Krista. Neil plans to visit family in Scotland for a couple weeks before returning to Newfoundland for Christmas. Bon Voyage!

All the teachers from my company and a wack friends got together on Saturday for a traditional Japanese send-off. What does this tradition entail?? uh, booze.

We started at a great izakaya in Katsuta, then progressed to The Drunken Duck in Mito, and finally to a Mito club called Bubbles (yeah... don't so much remember that part of the evening; likely because I was hugging the toilet the whole time. Damn tequila shot!).

It turned out to be an all-nighter (only stumbling into Amy's apartment in Naka around 8am) with intermittent hikes through the city (i.e. TONS of walking).

As most of you know, I am acquainted with the so-called "Land of Falling Down" and wore my trustiest shoes for this occassion. I'll just say: ouch! my ankle!

Neil: Gambatte on your future endeavours, especially your LSAT. I know you will be successful in whatever you do. I am lucky to have met you.

Oh! Yes, the date on Friday went swimmingly. You want details?? You must EMAIL me. :)


    • At 4:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Tressa has always made heer family proud whenever she shows her face in drunken bar pictures, can you say hi to her for me since i'm on the road alot, thank you and could you tell her "i'm Rick James B!tch"

      Tressa'a little brother

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Who Knew?

Sadly, I didn't get a hot new boyfriend, like Jessica... but could this quiz really have been less dead-on??? (****hehehe****)
Implusive DisorderAUGHHHHHAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Holy crap!!!! You're
Impulse Control Disorder! You yell at just
about anything that does anything or everything
wrong. You're a perfectionist into the fullest
extremes, and you take alot of this out on the
ones you love. You don't mean to hurt them, but
they don't know that sometimes. You are easily
irritated and try to take control of just about
everything there is to control. Usually, if you
have something to vent at, you can calm
yourself down, and look at things logically.
And when you do that, you're capable of so many
things, and everyone refers to you as a leader.

What's Your Disorder?


Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Best Time For Kareoke the night before a stat holiday!

Met up with our GREAT new friends Dave and Anna on Tuesday night, as Wednesday was a holiday. The advantage of kareokeing pre-holiday is weekday rates (cheaper). The disadvantage is that the place was packed; I'm surprised we got a room at all! Actually, we got the same room we had for Dave's birthday... a little more spacious with eight, as opposed to 15!!

You'll notice there are some Christmas doo-dads about: I am starting to see these more and more frequently. This really excites me! The Japanese don't generally celebrate Christmas, not know how to do so, but they are definitely into lights and trees. A house down my block has had their tree up for nearly two weeks already!! I'm sure we can all think of someone like that. ugh.

Nothing really out-of-the-ordinary.
Joined by Trav, Peter, Jody, Tressa, Dave and Anna for dinner at an Italian place downtown, meandered to kareoke later on, cabbed home. Fun-filled, really. Actually, the restaurant was where Tressa and I were first introduced to Trav... as such, we had to take a commemorative picture.

Be sure to hang out with these chaps and chippies again. Good times!

On another note: you know I have some extra time during this holiday week when I go and post seven friggin entries in four days. Loooooser!


    • At 1:41 AM, Blogger Fluffica said…

      it's so weird to see you with straight hair instead o' yo curlies.

      on an unrelated note, your comment word verification thing is really flipping annoying. keep in mind your readers are getting old. thus, our eyes are starting to go. thus, i can't see half the flippin letters.

    • At 3:09 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      If I take word verification off I end up with comments like:

      "Great blog! If you want to read up on paleontology check out my blog at i'"

      Good times.

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In Her Shoes: A Review

The ladies and I were pleased to find a chick-flick at the Oyama theatre last night - usually only Western blockbuster action films are released here; what's more, it was the only Western flick to chose from! Having never heard of the film, In Her Shoes, but knowing the actors, we decided to chance it.

My rating, a surprising 3.5 stars (out of 5). In her typical role as a ditsy hot-chick, Cameron Diaz did what she does (i.e. struts around in her panties),
and did it well. I think men and women alike can fantasize about "having" that body. Conversely, the HOT-factor for women viewers was added by Mark Feuerstein who you may recognize from various NBC cancellations. Like Diaz, Feuerstein stuck to his usual (smart, sympathetic Jewish boyfriend) role.

The highlights of the movie: Toni Collette, who seems finally to be breaking into mainstream roles; and the enchanting Shirley MacLaine (what a classy lady!). Both of these talents provided the required highs and lows that ensure the lasting enjoyability of an otherwise bland chick-flick.

Overall, buy it discount. You'll definitely watch it again and again, but it'll never be a classic.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

My Life in Japan, by Tressa Kirstein

(Tressa emailed this to her friends and family, and I thought it was hilarious enough to post myself - since she doesn't have a blog.)

Hello Everyone - this is entitled my life in Japan

I realize that sometimes I do not email as I do not have good stories to tell you. What I am going to do is sum up my crazy life here in Japan in one email so you can feel better about not hearing of my day to day life........haha

For starters, I live in a small apartment with several families of cockroaches who have lived in my fourplex for longer than I have. My tatamis were bought in approximately 1980, as was most of the other furniture and appliances in my other words it's not pretty! Other than my roach friends, I have 2 cats named Bandit and Mungo. They are stray cats and one is named Bandit simply because the dude is missing an eye and the other, Mungo, has strange google eyes but both are good pets. I have come to the realization that both pack some sorts of diseases and worms because I do my 3-times-a-day feedings for them and continue to see their ribs poking out at me. Also living in my apartment is my bed named Cold Heat - a fitting name since the air mattress... that I call a bed... traps in the heat and cold either causing me to freeze or boil, respectively, while I am sleeping on it.

Moving outside of my lovely dwelling you would find some piles of garbage that no one will clean up and a smog-filled sky. Seriously I can count on 1 hand the clear days that I have seen in 8 months.

Now that you have an understanding of my accomodations in Japan I will move along to what I do for a living. I teach English to babies, which in my opinion is quite ridiculous, but who can complain if they are getting paid. I teach 1-year-olds - yes, I am serious. Also, I teach mainly 2-5 year olds and the odd 7 to 11 year olds. My job is to wake up every morning, put on a T-shirt and wash my face, then get in my car, drive all the way to whatever school I teach at that day on the wrong side of the road, by the way, and spend the entire day singing and dancing in front of these tiny people to songs like-Eentsy Weentsy Spider and Skidamarink, and then I drive back to my lovely apartment on the wrong side of the road. This goes on day by day, week by week.

Approximately once or twice a month I will awake to the rumblings of an earthquake. Sometimes I decide to keep sleeping and sometimes I stand up and run around thinking I might die in the next minute. I have a pretty good social life: it is the best thing about my life here. I also know that I have a lot of friends because there is only so many foreign English speaking people and we all HAVE to be friends with each other or else stay in our scary apartments. This is the only reason why people like me here.

I like to think I know some Japanese but I dont. I know enough to shoot the shit with some 3-year-olds and that's about it. As for reading it... I can make out "ramen" which is an addictive substance that I eat at least once a week and my growing belly has been warning me to get off of this noodly goodness.

HAHAHA!! Yes, there is some truth to some of what I have said, yet some of it is bologna... mmmmmmm bologna.

Just wanted to say hello and tell you I am doing fine here and I would like to hear about your lives!!!!!!!!

To end my little rant I would like to list some things that I like about Japan:

1. They sell beer in vending machines at every corner for 2 dollars.
2. I get to perform for a living - those of you who know me well will know that this would be on my list of "likes".
3. I get a lot of attention because I am not Japanese. For example: a picture taken and put up in a photo shop simply because my friends and I are white.
4. I have a cell phone and although I do not know how to use it, I am addicted to it.
5. KARAOKE - you all know I cant sing but here it is OK because you get to sit in a private room and do not have to embarass yourself in front of an entire bar.

This is pretty much the only things I like about Japan.
Just jokes again.



Things that make me happy:

1. It makes me happy when the boy I will be going on a date with on Friday text messages me simply to wish me an enjoyable holiday. Awwww!

2. It makes me happy to find out that more of my classes have been canceled this week; work schedule (not including driving time):
Monday 10:00am - 12:00pm (plus private student, 50 minutes)
Tuesday 10:30am - 6:40pm
Wednesday none (Stat Holiday)
Thursday 6:00pm - 6:50pm (play classes canceled; plus private student, 1 hour)
Friday 2:00pm - 6:30pm (play classes canceled except for extra hour to help rehearse English Christmas Performance with my 5-age kids)

3. Exactly one month until CANADA!!!

4. Courteous Japanese drivers. See, Japanese drivers will NEVER stop to help you change a tire, or lend you their phone, but they will turn off their headlights when stopped behind or across from you at a light, and/or flash their lights allowing you to turn before them at an intersection. How thoughtful!


Monday, November 21, 2005


Met my new student tonight! Yippeeeee! Yuji is an Engineer (like, not the train type, duh) here in Shimodate, but lives in Oyama. He is in his late 20's and quite shy (and somewhat cute, ladies!!). Speaks English fairly well, but writes better as he has been internationally pen-paling for eight years. He will come to my house twice each month for lessons of 50 minutes each, 3000 yen ($30 CN) each. I've decided to try to get as many private students as possible because I seem unable to keep money in my wallet here. Grrrr. I have put two ads up through Japanese-English websites hosted specifically for Japanese students to find native English speaking teachers at no charge to the teachers; Yuji was my first response. Wish me luck!


    • At 5:13 PM, Anonymous ren said…

      Congraturations gaiijin, or is it gaijin? Doubtless you will ply him with wine until he is totally under your control, Cackle cackle...."try some madeira m'dear, I have a small cask of it here,"and in the morning he'll awake with a splitting head and a voice in his earhole which will tickle and say " have some Madeira m'dear" LOL Len

    • At 3:13 PM, Blogger Crystal said…

      A-hem! As if I would try to seduce my own students!!! What brand of tramp do you take me for?, you think red, or white? ;)

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A Series of Unfortunate Events

We'll chalk it up to bad luck...

So Saturday was the Coco Winery Harvest Festival in Ashikaga; consisted of an afternoon of sitting on a mountainside drinking wine and listening to jazz (and Newfie?) music. On the way there I had my first glimpses of Mount Fuji!! It was a clear day and we were a little North of Shimodate and low-and-behold, in the distance is that majestic snow-covered peak. Beautiful! Too bad it was just a little too far in the distance to get a decent photograph. :(

The Festival was in support of a foundation for physically and mentally challenged people; it was great that many of these people actually participated in the event: selling wine, dressing up as grapes and wine bottles, etc. There were thousands of people at the Festival and two stages: one for music and one for dancing, from what I saw. There were also oodles of vendors selling wine (at a whopping $13/bottle... wine usually sells at 7/11 for under $4) snacks, cheeses, souveniers, and the like. Quite the affair.

We me
t up with about 35 JETs and ALTs at the Festival, most of whom we had been acquainted with/hung out with previously. I've not seen so many white people congregated in one place since Canada (perhaps excluding Roppongi clubs). The "slope" on which it was situated was quite precarious: inebriated gaijin and Japanese people alike regularly found themselves rolling down it - what is the phrase, "ass over tea kettle?" I ended up meeting a guy. Japanese, from Utsunomiya. Did two years of university in California; speaks English perfectly (even with a Cali accent). We have a date for next weekend.

Alas, aside from a taste, I could not drink really, as I the DD. I was saving myself for the post-party in Utsunomiya (where we'd crash with friends or in the car) but I didn't quite feel up for that by the time we got there...

When the Festival ended around 5pm the streets of Ashikaga were full. Roadblocks were to be expected. We were stopped in a random check; thankfully, apart from Tressa trying to flirt with the (totally kawaii) cop and me asking him for directions, we were dismissed with little hassle.

Then on the highway toward Utsunomiya when I happen to glance out my window just in time to see a stray cat get plowed over by another car. OMG! Seriously one of the most awful experiences since I've been here. The cat, though smooshed into the pavement and totally unable to get up, was still moving like it was trying to run away. The worst part is that it was destined to be plowed over again and again until it was merely a mound of fur as Japan has no roadkill clean-up service. I ended up bursting into tears and practically having to pull over to regain my composure. AWFUL!

So traffic is bumper-to-bumper (as it always is on Route 50) and we are stopping and starting monotonously. The girls, having consumed copious amounts of wine, are givin' 'er dancing and singing to my stereo. We are stopped for some time when a woman from the car ahead of us gets out of her car and knocks on my window. She
is speaking Japanese and I can understand little of what she is saying; she is gesturing to the front of my car. I get out to examine, thinking perhaps I have a burnt out headlight... she is gesturing that our cars have collided, though there is at least three feet between them (presumably they pulled their car up after the alleged "collision"). I ask the girls if they felt a collision and it is agreed that there was none. I check for evidence in the form of scrapes or dents on either vehicle and there are none. I try to ask if the woman is okay, and for what I can tell (although hit by the bitchmobile) she is fine. After approximately 10 minutes of holding up traffic on an already busy road, I leave.

Approximately five hours later my boss phones me and asks if I've been in an accident!! I explain the aforementioned events and tell her that if I thought there had been a legitimate problem I certainly would have notified the police and my employers. I agree to meet Hiro at the police station in Tochigi City (where the alleged "accident" was reported) on Monday afternoon. As we are moving chronologically here, I will breifly digress.

After dealing with the crazy woman, I continue on to Utsunomiya where a SUBWAY
dinner awaits us. How exciting! We gobble our subs and carry on to the pub area of town, where we have hung out several times before... unfortunately, when backing out of the Subway parking lot the blankets and backpacks in the back window block my view and I nudge a poll. I was rattled, okay!?!?! Thankfully, no damage... apart from my nerves.

So we park at the pub. It is about 8:30pm. I confess that I am not really in the mood for partying after all this. Not wanting to disappoint the girls (some of whom had never been to party in Uts), I volunteer to hang out in the car instead. They club hop... for 5 hours. We later go home.

You're wondering what happened with my car... Well, I went to Tochigi today. Apparently my licence plate was bent a smidgen and there was some totally disputable smudge on their bumper. Disputable because I, nor my boss, couldn even see it. Honestly. It must have been one of those smudges where you had to be looking at it from the right angle, at the right time of day, in the right lighting, with the right microscope. I still contest that there was ever IMPACT for crying out loud! The worst case scenario was that I unwittingly rolled into her car from my stop position... even this is highly contestable.

Unfortunately their car is brand new, and Japanese people are way too polite; Hiro ended up giving the owners approximately $300 (which I have to pay) as a courtesy, even though the police and insurance people wouldn't file a claim (they agreed that there was no damage). I wasn't interviewed or anything. Apparently no one cares what the silly gaijin has to say.

Anyhow, I should count myself lucky, I suppose.


    • At 4:59 PM, Anonymous len said…

      what a rotten thing to have happen especially after the trauma of seeing the cat accident,I wouldn't be suprised if the car in front ran over a rock which sounded like a loud impact. I'm really sorry,but an oriental driver in Vancouver might not come off well either, without enough engrish language

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Shimotsuma Story

Friday night we FINALLY met up with April, a JET from Koga, and the new JETs from around Shimotsuma. We met April shortly after we arrived in Japan; she is good friends with Lianne, one of our first contacts here who has since returned to Canada. We started at Chan Charra, a relatively famous okonomiyaki restaurant (pancake/omlette/pizza, Japanese-style) and later moved on to kareoke. About 10 people were in attendance.
Matt (Aussie) & Adrienne (German); later Adrienne sang 99Luft Balloons, in German: What a treat!
The ladies: April (Texan), Wen (Californian), Tanny (Kiwi) and our lovely Jody (Californian, of course).
Tress, me & Matt. Tressa and I had joined the "Blue Sweater Club" by accident. Matt was imitating my singing, there is a series of these shots... hilarious.
April & Wen givin' 'er, so cute!

Who knew Peter was so much fun to have along for kareoke!?! Good times!

NB: the phrase "A Shimotsuma Story" is borrowed for a famous Japanese movie filmed and based in our neighbouring city. It's supposed to be quite good; good enough to put the little town of Shimotsuma on the map.


    • At 8:39 AM, Blogger Fluffica said…

      oh my gaw. the pic with you and aussie singing is hilare. hahaha.


    • At 1:04 AM, Blogger Matt in Japan said…

      ha ha!
      nice blog - except for the photo of the crazy Aussie (me)..I seriously had to be hospitalised after that karaoke session...
      Ok, it was just for a sore throat...see u soon!

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Nippon November

Although it is definitely cooling off, especially at night, I cannot get over how beautiful autumn is here in Japan. Sun is shining; flowers are blooming; crops arel growing. Feeling snap-shotty today... here's the result: my neighbourhood in fall.

Kaki is Yucky. Persimmons, like these, are everywhere this time of year, including school lunches. My first experience taught me that this fruit is rather bland of texture and taste. Certainly not a favourite.

Manderine oranges are not grown only in China! Though orange season was a couple weeks ago, many can still be found hanging around. Mmmmm.

Leaves turn red here too. Ideal for photographs next to bonsai.

Just some autumn daisies...

Found this tree beside a graveyard; the roof is a shrine (Buddhist).


    • At 7:53 AM, Blogger Fluffica said…

      hey hambone
      i finally got in gear and logged in to comment. I am usually way too lazy for that noise. Anyway, I will be in contact, I promise. I have been busier than a whore with twin beds-now that is busy.

      Peace n Hair grease,

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chef Jody

Quick thanks to Jody for a fantastic little dinner party tonight!!
Jody filled Tressa's and my tummies with some terrific Japanese fare: miso soup with daikon, arrow(???) root, potatoes, onions and carrots; japanese rice topped with seasoned grilled chicken; cucumber & cherry tomato salad tossed in the best only-in-Japan seasame dressing; and, raw tofu slabs topped with fresh green onion and sukoshi (just a little) soya sauce. Mmmmmm...
My first experience with raw tofu: yummy! Taste is authentically Japanese; texture is like cheesecake - and who can beat that?! I definitely recommend it!! I'm turning into a tofu-and-soy-bean-aholic! Ahhhhhh! ;)


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Happy Birthday Dave!

Friday was pretty much the usual... hair disasters, drinks at the Yuki izakaya with Nori and Dan. Three girls piled in my tiny bedroom, in a mess of blankets and futons (and even a double-sized air mattress that Jody dragged down the street from Tressa's, pants falling off the whole time... stumbling drunk and laughing so hard she nearly peed her pants) having a good ole fashioned sleepover. Good times.

Saturday we were invited to Dave-from-Ninomiya's birthday
celebration! The best part was that he was having it here in Shimodate!! We met up at an izakaya downtown and were surprised to find that about 15 people were in attendance; more surprised when three fellow campers from the Ashio cabin weekend walked through the door! Should have expected it really, since they are all JETs, like Dave. We got to meet Dave's Kiwi girlfriend - so excited to see that she wasn't Japanese! - and many others... can't wait to see them all again, they were great fun!

Stayed at the Izakaya for just over
two hours: all-you-can-drink... mmmmmm, then headed to Shidax for kareoke! The 15 of us piled into a way-too-small kareoke room and sang our hearts out; since there was no floor space, everyone just stood on the benches and danced. More all-you-can-drinking, into the wee hours. God I'm going to miss kareoke! Thanks for the invite Dave!

Dave's crew invited us to join them next weekend at a wine tasting festival in Tochigi prefecture (where most of them live; the prefecture bordering ours, and bordering Shimodate). Soooo excited! Until next time folks...


Violet Frizz

Predictably, the title of this post is derived from the name of a Japanese alcoholic beverage: Violet Fizz... yummy!

Those of you who know me will probably concur that I am something of an extremist (aka anal retentive)... my hair, apparently, is no exception. Growing sick of my increasingly
platinum/yellow locks with ever-lengthening roots, I concluded it was time for a change... my solution: PURPLE!

Okay, admittedly this was a horrible accident. The problem is that Japanese people don't need to dye light hair dark, they all unsuccessfully attempt to dye their dark hair light, and as such (combined with my inability to comprehend Japanese packaging) the dye I bought had just a smidgen too much PURPLE in it. At least I can now boast that I've sported every imaginable colour on my head.

And now, what was once white-blonde, is now jet black. I had to buy the old-people dye meant for gray coverage; thankfully a bit of the red tones leftover from the purple disaster show through so it's not all bad. Have to adjust my wardrobe and makeup techniques a bit, and it'll take some getting used to, but I think I can live with it...

Oh, the girls and I thought, in our drunken stooper, that we looked just like the Charlie's Angels, what with our multi-coloured locks, and as such had to take a series of photos to prove it.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005


For some of you, this may be the most boring post to date; suck it up.

Tonight I made dinner for Tress and me in 15 minutes. We had a tomato and fresh mozza salad with a homemade vinegarette, garlic fried tofu and miso soup... why am I so excited? Well, it's taken me 7 months to master miso soup, and my sister has been preaching the deliciousness of fried tofu for eons and up until tonight I was a fried-tofu-virgin. I'm sure you can get all these ingredients in Canada even!!

Miso Soup
4 servings

4 cups water
1 tbsp miso paste
veggies (potato, cabbage, onion, etc.)
tofu (if you so desire)
fish salt (the secret ingredient, provided by Jody, that sealed the deal)

Boil water. Add veggies according to time they will take to cook. Add miso paste and fish salt, to taste. Eat. Sooooo easy, soooo oishi!

Fried Tofu
1 pkg = approx 2 servings

cubed firm tofu
olive oil
seasonings (s&p, garlic, oregano, chilis... whatever flavours you like really)

Saute garlic in oil. Add tofu. On medium heat, fry for about 8 minutes without stirring (stirring with break cubes). Gently stir to flip cubes. Fry for about 8 more minutes or until golden brown and slightly crusty. Eat. Again, easy and oishi.

Your own miso soup and/or tofu ideas are welcome. See, I can be Martha even in Japan!! (omg)


    • At 12:46 AM, Blogger Jody D. White said…

      I told you it was all about the fish salt! MMmmmmmm fish salt!

    • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Crystal said…

      Oh! Trav just told me that if you boil the raw tofu in water for five minutes, it firms it up enough for perfectly cubed fried tofu (rather than scrambled-eggs-like fried tofu). Haven't yet tried this, but sounds interesting.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Oh The Outrage!

As hypothesized, the fluctuations in Canadian and Japanese currencies are increasingly screwing me.
Sent 90,000 yen home today which should have been approximately $1020 (based on the rates when I arrived in Japan) but was actually $877!!! Grrrrr. I am now losing money. What does this mean? Well, I'll be sending only what is necessary until the global currencies once again revolve around my needs/wants, and will be bitching the whole way through. hehehe.
How am I curbing these financial woes? Hmmmm... by listening to truckloads of Coldplay; I find it very therapeutic. Alas, I'm surely not alone in my disgust.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Wedding Bells

My friends Yoko and Makoto got married yesterday!! We were invited to attend all parties after and including the second.

The ceremony and first party are generally for family and close friends only. The actual marriage was done in a western fashion: Yoko wore a beautiful white gown and vows were said under an alter. It was held in an imitation wedding chapel where bells were rung and everything! Makoto wore traditional Japanese male garb, and apparently looked like a dashing samerai. Yoko changed into a traditional kimono for the first party, which consisted of a dinner of french cuisine, speeches and cake. As yesterday was also Yoko's 29th birthday, Makoto surprised her with a speech and a bouquet of 29 roses... How Sweet! At Second Party Trav, Tress, Daichi and I sang Yoko "Happy Birthday" and a cake was brought out for

We were joined by Trav, Kana (Trav's gf), Daichi, Nori, Dan, Mayu, Tomo, and Peter at the Second party, and seated at a table with Yoko's former host family who flew in from America for only two days! Approximately 90 people were in attendance. The Second party consisted of another meal (baked spinach and mussles, sweet chili prawns, sushi, lamb, shrimp and clam fried rice...) and some games. The first game was a how-well-do-you-know-the-couple game; surprisingly, Daichi came in second and won two tickets to Disneyland (approx. value $140). First prize was an I-pod. Dan did pretty well
also and won a bathroom scale that measures percent body fat in addition to weight (he was less than thrilled).

Guests pay for each party they attend at Japanese weddings. Second party was about $50CN for women and $60 for men. Third party was held at a traditional Japanese izakaya (pub) were we all sat on tatamis and took turn pouring drinks for one another. There was more food served, pub fair, and plenty of drinks. For the Third party and those following the bill is split by the number of people in attendance; as such, whether you drank/ate or not, you paid the same as everyone else (turned out to be only $10 each).

We later headed to Fourth party which was held at a kareoke place. Yoko had reserved a large room for us all, and about 50 people were still coherent enough to partake. Yoko sang Makoto a love song, to which he and his friends did the can-can (haha!). Nori introduced a song sung by Tressa and I and invited Yoko and Makoto to share their first dance... they lasted about half the song before giving up and heading back to their drinks! ...dancing is not a traditional wedding event here in Japan. To cap off Fourth party, a friend of Makoto's did a striptease!! I wondered if I had accidentally walked into a bachelorette party!

Because Trav, Kana and Daichi were leaving after Fourth party, and we had intended to curb the cost of cab fare by riding together to Shimodate, (from Oyama) Tressa and I decided to leave with them. Although it was only about midnight (Second party had begun at 5:00) I was more than ready to leave... staying would have meant drinking which would have meant chucking some cookies. yuck.

Differences between Western and Japanese weddings:
  • Bride and groom spend little time together throughout the night
  • Guests pay to attend each party
  • If you arriving after First party, no gift is necessary; if you attend the ceremony and First party then monetary gifts are given
  • Guests who attend First party and ceremony get pricey take-home gifts (casserole dishes, etc. in this case)
  • No dancing
  • Usually no wedding rings (although Yoko and Makoto are interested in Western tradition and chose to wear rings
  • No white dress (again, Yoko chose to go the way of the West here)
  • Many and varied locations
  • No family (including Yoko's sisters) attend any parties after First
  • Bride changes dress three or more times


    • At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Sounds exciting! Maybe the next wedding will be more trditional, so you guys can see more of a difference. Lots of parties, no wonder you were home so early, a whole day of drinking!

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