Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Matsuri Time!

The Japanese people really know how to put the “festive” in their festivals. Our town recently celebrated the Autumn Equinox (a national holiday in Japan) with a three-day weekend, parades, fireworks, music, dancing, performances, and more. We were caught in the fray a few times and lucky enough to snap some pictures and video.
The main event of the festival takes place on the castle grounds. We just caught the very end of this event, but it was awesome to see everyone so involved.

True to the holiday, Mother Nature has decided that is it time to cool things off a bit around here. Autumn came overnight, and we have had to pull out our jackets, fluffy socks, and big blankets. We even bought hot chocolate – pretty pathetic, I admit, since it’s not even October. After living in Hawaii for five years, a change of season is kind of exciting; I had forgotten how much I love the fall.

Over the weekend, we were invited to two branch members’ homes to eat something called “takoyaki,” which is made with a egg and flour batter, ginger, green onion, and either cheese, squid, octopus, sausage, or anything else you want to throw in. It is made in a special takoyaki pan. It sounds a little strange, but tastes pretty good and is super fun to cook. My favorites were the sausage and octopus. Here are a few pictures that I took of the process.

Sausage takoyaki

This is the fun part. Each takoyaki has to be flipped over to cook on the other side too. These ones are squid takoyaki.

The finished product, topped with Japanese mayo, seaweed, fish flakes, and takoyaki sauce.

One family also made dozens of California rolls for us - oh so yummy!
One of the teachers from my school, Tomomi-san, came to the branch English class a couple weeks ago and was able to meet with the missionaries last week. James and I were able to go sit in on the lesson. She has been really friendly to me at school, helping me with the bulletin board and coming to my office to talk every now and then. She loves Disneyland too, so we were pretty much instant friends. She went to Tokyo Disney with her family and brought me this awesome Mickey Mouse hat, which I will definitely be wearing all over the park when James and I go next week.

The toaster-oven-adventure-of-the-week this week was chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate chips are hard to come by here, so I bought a cheap chocolate bar and smashed it up into pieces. You would never know the difference. I tried making cookies, but it was inefficient and a little messy because the pan was small and bumpy. So instead, I tried making cookie bars in a bigger, flatter pan. They worked great; the pan was too big for the oven to rotate, so I had to keep turning it around every few minutes, but the final result was a success.

I’m always humbled and amazed when I think of all the kindness that has been shown to us since we arrived here. Our branch has taken such good care of us that it feels like family every time we go to a church activity. For me, one of the most difficult things to get used to in Japanese culture is that most people are not physically affectionate. There are so many people that I would like to just throw my arms around and give a big thank-you hug, but I think it would scare them to death. I guess I’ll just have to learn to love in the Japanese-style!

1 comment:

  1. I love that you two are having a Japanese Adventure! That is so fun. How long will you be there?