Monday, December 15, 2008

Final Two Weeks; Food-Filled Farewells

With two weeks left in Nishiokoppe and the holidays fast approaching, dinner partying has ramped up big time. Sunday was our second annual neighborhood association children's party. Below, kids play a gift exchange game to music while parents digest.
The woman folk took over the community kitchen and once again pulled out all the stops. Last year this soup looked scary to me. This is actually a very tasty dish which contains some mysteries perhaps better left unsolved. Neighbors chuckled over our surprise at shaking a handful of snacks out only to discover the fishy "prize" in Japanese cracker jacks. Nova's favorite part, cake decorating with Maya and the Taniguchi sisters.
Last January I started teaching Nishiokoppe's first yoga class. I wasn't sure how it would be received. That first class, 17 people showed up and the village bought 20 yoga mats in support. Since then, participation has dwindled down to these 6 awesome die-hards.
Monday night yoga has been my most looked forward to weekly event. It's a nice time to connect with people and share something I enjoy. I'm very impressed by and proud of my students.
Nova, Maaya, Hibiki and Sora; junior joginis extraordinaire!
Mr. and Mrs. Yaso, both teachers, hosted a farewell dinner and invited two of Shawn's other colleagues.Always an honor to be invited into someone's home, the Yasos have shown us great generosity and warmth.Mrs. Yaso poured some amazing smelling Jasmine tea. The flowers start as dried buds and "bloom" beautifully in hot water. Living in Japan has at last made a tea drinker out of me. Japanese dinner parties are epic in length and number of courses served. Luckily no one minded that I got up to stretch my legs every once in a while. Speaking of walking, here are a few photos from my morning walk with Bunta.... we like to go down to this river.
Just the sound of wind and water..... no one around but us.
Despite being lonely for U.S. friends and family, I will miss the stillness of my days as a "Japanese" housewife.
Bunta is boning up on his English for his western debut.

Shawn and I like to play a game called "what's under the tarp?". When the snows come, all of Hokkaido's public fixtures get wrapped in blue tarp. Stationary boats, train cars, fountains.... you name it. So,can you guess what's under the tarp?
If you said giraffe, you're right!
Start looking for your New Year's cards in the mail next week. Happy year of the ox everyone!