Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sumo Tournament

Today I got to check off one of my "must-do's" in Japan... I went to my first Sumo Tournament!  I didn't know what to expect except to see lots of really big guys wrestling, but I must say, it was pretty exciting!  It was full of rituals, traditions, cheering crowds, and souvenirs.  My friend, Christine, and I had a great time and did a TON of giggling! :) Here are a few pictures from today's fun tournament!

Warming up before the tournament begins

Christine and I inside the Sumo arena

The Sumo wrestlers parading in

Presentation of the wrestlers


Stretching before his big match

Bowing to each other

And here they go!

I don't really know who this was or what he was doing, but needless to say it was interesting!  Maybe it was the halftime entertainment!

With a sumo wrestler... doesn't he look thrilled to take his picture with me?!?!

During one match both of the guys stepped out of the ring at the same time, so the referees came into the ring to decide who the winner was.

Two cute little boys cheering for the wrestlers

This was interesting... these guys would come into the ring every once and awhile to parade around holding up banners from companies... it was like a commercial.

This guy did a little routine at the end of the tournament

It's hard to see, but this is outside after the tournament on top of the arena... there is a guy inside playing a drum.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Thanksgiving Full of "Firsts"

I had such an amazing Thanksgiving yesterday... even though Chris wasn't here (but we'll be together for Christmas, yay!!), it was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember!

It was my first time to not only contribute to the meal (usually my sister and mom do most the cooking and they let me get away with bringing the drinks) but I cooked half of it!  My friend and amazing cook, Amy, decided we were going to make Thanksgiving for my Japanese students and our French friend, Maud.  We planned our menu and went shopping well in advance (when the commissary gets holiday items, they go fast, so you better load up because there is no re-stocking in Sasebo).  I quickly told Amy that I would host if she would do the turkey, it was a deal!

Eri, Asami, Yasuko (my students) and Maud (our friend from France) were looking forward to their first Thanksgiving!  We started the meal with a prayer, explained all the crazy looking foods to them, and they dug right in! They were so great, they tried everything and  in true Thanksgiving fashion, they went back for seconds!

Here's a few pictures from the evening.  First, the table settings...

Next, here's the food.  I think Amy and I did a great job!  Amy made the all important turkey, dressing, corn bread muffins, sweet potatoes, and two yummy pies.  I made the green bean casserole, cranberries, stuffin' muffins, and smashed potatoes. The only thing missing was my mom's famous "Pretty Pink Salad," but she is the only one who can make that incredible dish.  Maybe she'll make it for me when I come home!

Turkey, gravy, and sweet potatoes

Corn bread muffins, cranberries (fresh), and stuffin' muffins (not pictured: canned cranberries)

Green bean casserole, smashed potatoes

Most amazing pies ever! Pumpkin pie and Pumpkin Cheesecake with a maple, pecan glaze.

Of course, they had a sample all flavors of cider!

And finally... here's the pictures of everyone sampling the foods.  It was so fun to watch their faces as we were explaining things like cranberries from a can and sweet potato casserole!

Asami trying the canned cranberries.

Amy cutting into her delicious cajun fried turkey!

Everyone crowded into my itty-bitty kitchen! I think all 8 of us were in here at this time!

Eri sampling the sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows!

Eri, Asami, and Maud (with sweet Liam)

Yasuko, Vince, and Joe

Everyone visiting while dessert is being prepared.

A group shot of all the girls!
It was such a fun night... we are already making plans for next Thanksgiving! It was such an incredible blessing to spend Thanksgiving with such great friends.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I am so grateful for each and every one of you and your friendship.  I love and miss y'all!