Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Flashbacks: Turkey Day aka that is not a biscuit damnit! day

Thursday was my first Thanksgiving back in the US. For my family, Thanksgiving is just another family gathering for us to pig out, but with a few differences. We dress up a bit and add a turkey and other classic Thanksgiving must-haves. It's also tradition to share at least one thing we are grateful for this year. Mine was pretty simple: I was grateful that I can spend Thanksgiving with my family again and able to eat an *actual* turkey.

Looking at the turkey was like this:

Thanksgiving in Japan pretty much marked the beginning of the holiday blues for me. I loved living in Japan, love it and miss it, but November onward was when the homesickness hit. Maybe its because the winter holidays are celebrated so differently in Japan (or don't exist at all, turkeys rejoice) that it really emphasizes the foreignness. At least Japan has a word for turkey(七面鳥、しちめんちょう、or seven-faced bird. lolz). A plus side was that it gave me plenty of lesson ideas/culture sharing time.

My first year in Okayama I had 2 Thanksgivings. The first was a potluck in Yakage, the next town over from Ibara. Awesome food, awesome people, lovely times. The second one was with closer friends. We decided that we wanted to celebrate on the actual day, despite the fact we all had work the next day and some of us had to travel over an hour to commute to and from the city (*ahem* me). Ordering turkey from The Meat Guy and/or the Flying Pig was pretty pricey, so we had KFC instead. I know. Looking back now I'm wondering what the hell were we thinking, but I think it was along the lines of hey, KFC is as American as you can get and its a kind of play on Japan's odd custom of eating KFC/friend chicken on Christmas. We did make homemade mashed potatoes and dessert though! And despite the near brawl of the Americans and British on what a biscuit REALLY is, fun was had by all. Not so much for me when I woke up 5 in the morning to take the first train back to my town and head straight to work. Never. Again.

KFC, hobnobs. Internationalization at its finest

The second time around we took the holiday more seriously. Sort of. Lots more homemade stuff including an awesome chicken bake (our turkey substitute) and homemade apple cider. Oh, and pazookie, can't forget that.  The day can be summed up into 2 words: food and Zelda.

So yes, I was very, *very* happy to celebrate Thanksgiving stateside. But, I am grateful that I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving in Japan with an amazing second family.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Summer(?) Sonic Osaka 2012

I recently bought tickets for Muse's concert (myfavoritebandofalltimesooooexcited) in Oakland, and it reminded me of one of my concert adventures in Japan. It was definitely a concert event I will never forget. So let me tell you about my Summer Sonic experience.

Besides Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic is one of the biggest summer music festivals in Japan and with a line-up like Rihanna, Gym Class Heroes, and Perfume, I definitely wanted to go before I left Japan. So I did.

A hot, summer concert? Oho, little did we know...

My friends and I went on Saturday and although I was sad to miss out on Green Day and Franz Ferdinand, I ended up seeing artists I like such as Gym Class Heroes and Perfume, and even old school favs like Garbage, The Cardigans, and New Order (all of them, were *amazing* by the way). 

So here my friends and I were, sweating and enjoying Perfume's performance, when clouds started creeping over the sky. I didn't think *too* much of it. After all, summer time in Japan is usually caught between nasty humidity and nasty humidity + rain. A little rain couldn't hurt a concert right?

WRONG. First came the thunder. It was so close and very very loud. It was freaking people out, including me. It didn't help that Perfume stopped performing, apologized and said they would be "right back", then left (they *left* us). Then came the downpour. Honestly Japan, of all the days to rain...

Seeking refuge

Despite the torrent, the *second* we saw it stop, the crowd *rushed* back to the stage areas. So in the end I stayed out all night wet and muddy. I didn't exactly feel my finest, but thinking back on it now I'm definitely glad I went even though I lost a good pair of flats. *sigh*

All in all, not bad for my first summer music festival. Don't let Japan's random fickle weather stop you from going to any of Japan's music summer festivals. I definitely recommend going if you can get the chance.

And I leave you with the foodie pic of the day!

Okay I lied. The Meiji Chocolate building seen from the shinkansen.

Saturday, November 3, 2012 Jur--Mt. Takatsuma Park

I never considered myself a hiking kind of girl. Sure, when I was a kid my family went camping over the summer, but I never did anything more than that especially when I got older and discovered the internet. Then, I climbed Mt. Fuji and I thought it was *awesome*. I guess it also helped that Japan is just a beautiful country and would inspire anyone to go for walks and take in the scenery. So, I was happy when I was invited to go with some of the Ibara English conversation students and hike a small mountain in Yakage, the next big town over. 

It really was a fun hike and the weather was beautiful for it. There was a clearing where we busted out the bento lunches (man did they pack a lot of food! I think us foreigners just packed onigiri/sandwiches from the conbini!). During the hike we looked down on a camping area and thought we even spotted a farm (well we heard the cows).

Not at the top, but whatever

Ah, I loooove 紅葉 (kouyou)

We all went our separate ways in Ibara, though some of the students came to my apartment and dropped off some Japanese sweet potatoes (さつまいも) and konnyaku (こんにゃく, a jelly made from devil's tongue) that they had at home. Man, the perks of living in the inaka!

Yummy shot of the day:


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