Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dinner with a Friend

I have dinner with friends quite frequently (especially when Chris is gone), but last night's meal was extra special.  I met my Japanese student and friend, Yasuko, for dinner.  Now, as Americans living in a foreign country, we all know which places have English menus and which places don't and we really only frequent the places with menus we can read (or places we know what to order if we get the same thing every time).  However, last night, she took me to a brand new restaurant.  We went to "Goose."  Here's what the menu looked like,

Where do you even start?  She was so great and read the entire menu to me.  We finally decided to share a pizza, salad, crackers and dip, and a potato dish.  Everything was delicious and I had such a fun time! This is what we ate:
Mushroom and bacon pizza... yum!!

My friend, Yasuko, with the potatoes au gratin... it was our favorite of the night!

Avocados with wasabi mayonnaise and crackers

After an amazing time at dinner, she took me to a great hole-in-the-wall place for dessert.  The atmosphere was incredible and all the desserts looked delicious! Yasuko said she has been coming to this place since high school, and the best item on the menu is the coffee jelly... so, of course that is what I got.  The Japanese love their jellies... they put jellies in their sodas and everything!  I was nervous, but I dug right in!  The jellies were of course coffee flavored, but the ice cream made it sweet and creamy. I was in heaven and I will definitely be going back!

Coffee Jelly for dessert

I had such a fun evening!  I can't wait to take Chris to these fun new places Yasuko introduced me to!  She said will we definitely do it again... I'm already looking forward to the next new place she will take me. 

Getting to know Yasuko and my four Japanese students has been such an amazing experience... a definite blessing!! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011


In my last post, I told you about my favorite things in Japan.  In case you don't remember here's my list so far:
1.  The kind Japanese people
2.  The amazing seasonal flowers
Today, I found number 3... the festivals! The Japanese love their festivals and so far I haven't been disappointed by any of them.  Their costumes are amazing and everyone is just so happy!

Well, this morning started off sad because Chris and I hadn't been able to talk all week and then this morning, while I was home, I missed two phone calls.  I'm not able to call him back, so it's frustrating when that happens.  After church I was going to go to the festival, but it was raining.  But I talked myself into it because I reminded myself that I had an umbrella in the back (turns out by the time I parked my car, the rain had stopped) and that I'm only in Japan once.  I'm so glad I didn't miss this festival! They truly changed my attitude today.  I walked to the festival feeling pretty sad and missing my honey, and I literally left with a smile on my face because they were so exciting to watch!

This was the Yosakoi festival. Yosakoi is a style of dance that is highly energetic and it combines Japanese dance movements with modern music.  The dances are done by large teams which include men, women, and children of all ages. A defining aspect of every team's dance is the "naruko." This is a small wooden clapper that the dancers hold during their routine.

Posters advertising the festival... the picture in the middle is the naruko.

Here's some fun pictures from the dancing teams... there were a ton of teams, so I'm just warning you, there are a ton of pictures, too!!

They just love to have their picture taken!

These performers were being judged, but I didn't stick around long enough to see the winners, so I am giving them the award they would have received from me. :)

This first group wins for being the most colorful and most costume changes...

Love her excitement!

Just beautiful!

This is why they won in this category!
This next group won for best use of pom-poms in a routine...

Look at their fun facial expressions!
 This group won two awards: Best  traditional costumes and cutest child award...

I told you!

She was thrilled when her mom gave her clappers to make noise with!

 And these are my winners for best eye make-up and hair accessories...

Notice the eyes...

Just love it!
 And these girls get my vote for best song... they danced to, "I Need a Hero," and yes, I was singing along!

Okay, and she was super cute, too!
 This group wins for being the most amazing. There was one girl dancing with about 12 elderly women, they were pretty spectacular!

 And finally, most dramatic... they were so loud, I had to stop taking pictures because I was giggling so hard, but they did a great job!

It's like she was screaming right at me!

Maybe they'll ask me to be a judge next year! :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Okunchi Festival and Rice Harvesting

My Japanese student, Yasuko, told me about a festival going on this weekend... The Okunchi Festival is held every year in the fall in Nagasaki. The map we had wasn't too good (partially because it was all in Japanese), so needless to say we were thrilled when we literally turned a corner and saw the floats coming down the street. It was fun to see everyone in their costumes and Japanese attire. Here's a few pictures from the festivities...

I liked this picture... they are reaching for the goodies being thrown off the float.

The men pulled the boat while the kids inside played instruments.
Kimonos and umbrellas! Love!!

The festival was to celebrate the harvest so on the way home we had to stop to take pictures of the rice being harvested. It was such an incredible sight to see! 
I was so excited to see this sweet lady working in the rice fields and I thought her bonnet was too cute!


I decided today that my two favorite things about living in Japan are the kind people and the beautiful flowers. Every season is better than the one before it. I still can't decide which season is my favorite. The flowers are so vibrant and they are everywhere.  Right now it is cosmo season.  The shades of purple are spectacular!

The fields of cosmos were such a beautiful sight!

My wonderful friends that I am so blessed to have, Donna and Sharon.

And of course my trip wouldn't be complete if I didn't find a fun goodie at the convenient store.  Today's find was Cookies and Cream and Strawberry and Hazelnut Kit Kats... they will be in the mail this week for my niece and nephew to sample.  Enjoy, Cade and Ella!!