Dec 21, 2007
Tanja invited us to join her, her fellow English language teaching staff, and her students for English Day. We really had no idea what this would involve other than a trip to the outskirts of Nara, and a free lunch. It sounded good to us when she assured us that if our jetlag caught up with us that we could sneak in a nap during the day.
Getting to English Day was a great lesson in the Japanese train network. What we learned is that it is likely far too complicated for us to try mastering during a 2 week visit with friends who have lived here for years, read the local script, and sometime also have a considerable amount of difficulty navigating the system. We ended up on a train at one point that may have or may not have brought us to our destination. I think my birthday luck brought us to our destination!
From the train we boarded a mini bus full of 16 year old giggling students. It took us up into the hillside of Nara region.
Our day with the students included lessons on Japanese manners, an overview of the best Japanese tourist sites, and oragami. At the end we showed our appreciation for being included in the day by sharing Canadian pins and candy canes. The candy canes were a curious treat - when I noticed that the girls were not eating them, Tanja explained that they were a decoration as well as a candy. I think they were a real hit then!
(check out the photos of English day on the next entry...)
Kyla's Birthday Celebrations
Tanja thought it would be fun to celebrate my bday in Japan. I agreed and so we booked our flights with this in mind. What I did not expect was to make a dozen new friends who would shower me with presents in celebration of my big... 2-9.
Tanja, Nick and I began our evening with a Tanppanyaki feast - the highlight of the meal being Okonomiyaki which is a fried cabbage. I had known this would be my birthday dinner a month in advance and to be honest, I was not looking forward to the actual eating of cabbage. One day in Prague after a month in Eastern Europe I confided to Nick that if I had to eat one more bite of cabbage as the only vegetarian meal option I would likely break out into a fit of rage and be quickly asked to leave the region. I was at the stage that I swear my breath, clothes, skin ...even my thoughts, all smelled like cabbage. My luck was that within two hours of this comment I received an email from Tanja inviting us out for dinner to indulge in her favorite treat. I reluctantly agreed not wanting to offend her new Japanese lifestyle before actually arriving in Japan. I made a pact with Nick though that we would be sure to order other foods. Wouldn:t you know it though, the dinner was fabulous and I have been waking up each morning now craving Tanppanyaki!
After dinner we made our way to Tanja:s local hang out - the Happy Cat Cafe. A room full of Tanja:s friends warmly greeted us, and later on I was showered with gifts. It was a late night out and many new friends were made!
Thank you everyone for your warm welcome to Japan!