Friday, October 16, 2009

Japanese Culture Club

One of the truly neat things about living in Japan is the ability to experience their culture up close and in person. They have such a rich history in this country. I love learning about it and becoming educated on a part of the world outside my little Texas bubble.
I also love the Japanese people. They are such a kind, gracious society. Luckily, thru the Yokota Officer's Spouse's Club there is a Culture Club you can join. It meets twice each month, once meeting hosted by the Japanese, the other by the Americans. We get to choose events and things we would like to do and learn about (Japanese cooking class, dressing in kimonos and having a tea ceremony, etc.) and in turn they choose American things they want to do (like Octoberfest on base, going to lunch at Chili's on base, etc).
Last Thursday was our first meeting. It was basically just to pick dates for the year and events we would want to do. The Japanese hosted it at a tea room off base, and served us yummy sushi for lunch. We got to introduce ourselves and hear all about the Japanese members and their families and interests.The garden of the tea room.Bamboo poles outside the tea room, in the garden. Bamboo is an evergreen, so it is green all year round. The Japanese believe this is lucky and it is supposed to grow in the gardens of all tea rooms. The waiting area, before your tea ceremony starts. We didn't actually have tea here, but they were just showing us around. We ate our sushi lunch in a separate room.
One of the ladies, Kimiko, telling us about the tea room. See the wood panel next to her, down low? That's actually the door to go in the room! It was closed at the time, but she said that it was built like that because of a long ago tradition. Back in the day, they had small doors like that so that samurai could enter the tea rooms but they had to take their swords off first. That eliminated issues and made everyone "equal". Sorta like if cowboys in the old west left their horse and guns outside the saloon!

I brought Mallory along, of course, and she was the star of the show. They LOVE babies in Japan, and I think I held her for a grand total of about 6 minutes- the rest of the time she was in the arms of one of the other members. Here is part of our group. I'm taking the picture. My daughter is inside the room behind us, where we ate lunch. She's being entertained by the Japanese, or maybe she's entertaining them.
They took off with her during lunch, letting me eat while they walked her around the gardens talking to her in Japanese and pointing out the various plants and stuff. It was so cute. And luckily she is a GREAT baby, and just stared at them in wonderment. Hopefully she's soaking up all the language as well so she can be fluent by 2 years old :)
The Japanese ladies unwrapping the sushi bowls. Everything in Japan comes wrapped up a certain way, and each of the wraps have different meanings.
The sushi spread.
Mallory is in the background, just wishing she could eat sushi, miso soup and salad too!
Mmmmm...look at all that yummy sushi. I never liked it until I moved to Japan, but they do it right in this country!
The whole group. Notice that I am not holding Mallory- in fact, she's 3 people over from me in the arms of a Japanese lady of course! (I admit to not knowing all their names or how to spell them, but I'll work on it and try to post them soon.)
It was a really fun day and I can't wait for the rest of the meetings this year. I'm hoping to get to participate all 3 years I am here, as it is a great way to meet people of an other culture, learn about their background and really take advantage of living in a different part of the world!

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