Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Christmas in Kagoshima

Last weekend I paid a visit to my friend's Kaori and Sayako who live in an old, traditional style house on the outskirts of Kokobu. Kokobu is at the top of the Kinko bay that I live alongside of, about forty minutes by train from Kagoshima City. They have three cats and their house has five or six rooms, meaning that it is very cold right now, but also they have lots of space to turn rooms into art space or "mediation" space... I met Kaori at a party a while ago and discovered that while going to school in Oakland (as an exchange student - she is Japanese) she had dated this guy who went to Kresge who was friends with my roommate freshman year! Can you believe it?
The river alongside their house. It's so nice to wake up and hear the sound of the river and trick yourself into thinking that it is still raining.
This bridge was built in front of their house, so to get to their house you park on this dirt road and duck under the bridge. We had a night of cooking (Sayako makes a mean Jamaican jerk chicken) and I realized that it had been so long since I spent time cooking with a group of people. I usually lure people to my house by cooking for them, but oh it feels so nice to just chop onions with someone and get a little teary-eyed together.
At one of my school's musical performances. This guy in the cap is a prime example of older people's attire here. I often see these cute old couples walking around together in matching sailor (what would you call them?) caps, khaki rain jackets and matching umbrellas.
Right next to Kaori and Sayako's house is a place where they are making monuments and tomb markers.
Heaven of heavens! One million kinds of "mochi creams," or mochi ice cream! With these babies at my disposal I will never crave Trader Joe's selection of mochi ice cream again!
Individually wrapped fish. Kind of beautiful in a way. I guess they seemed funny to me because it seems like at home you wouldn't really get the whole fish wrapped, just the fillet.
In malls they have these candy wheels that revolve to attract cute children.
Well, it has been Christmas in Kagoshima since the day after Halloween (there were lots of Halloween decorations in bakeries and supermarkets) and I am not exactly happy about that. I'm not going to lie, I really love Christmas and the Christmas season despite its overwhelming comercial presence...but here it is taken to another level. There are decoration everywhere and a lot of them are a little strange. Like this Christmas tree that was erected in front of the mall near my house - it looks like some kind of disco Hawaiian dream of a twelve year-old girl and at night it flashes lights like some kind of garrish Eiffel Tower copycat. At first I was a little annoyed, don't they know that pink and white are not Christmas colors? But when considering any Christmas decorations here I have to keep in mind that Christmas in Japan is basically Valentines Day. On the 24th couples go out for dates and give each other presents and eat this really fluffy cream cake and everyone is really excited about it. I am less excited about that element of it, but if someone would just kiss in public once here I think I would be really happy.
By night. Ugh, for the last month they have been piping the Christmas music of my nightmares into every store and public walkway. It's horrible! And that is being said by the person who has a permanent Christmas music playlist on her computer! They mostly play a lot of musak versions of the more religious Christmas songs...and listening to the soft sax version of "What Child is This " while I pick out meats in the meat section of the supermarket sometimes makes me irrate. Ha, in some of these annoyed moments I feel bitter about this country's overwhelming embrace of Christmas and think things like: there are hardly even any Christians here, why do they like it so much? It's not even their holiday! Ok, Christian or not, it doesn't matter. Everyone can have Christmas because the holiday isn't really about religion anyway. Especially here. It's about infatuation with yet another season change. I guess sometimes the altered version that I get of it mostly seems annoying rather than charming. Like if they didn't have Christmas decorations around at all, and instead had hella New Year's decorations that were traditional to Japan, I could get so into not celebrating Christmas and just forget that I won't be home for it. Attempting to pull together remnants of a holiday in a place where it isn't really celebrated is often more frustrating than trying to have Thanksgiving in a place where there is no turkey, no cranberries and no ovens to bake in. But I guess that when you are so far away from the familiar, sometimes you just need to hold on to whatever you can get.
Like Colonel Sanders in a Santa Suit.
Hard to tell, but these are some high school kids making out by the river near my house.
I was "investigating" a mall in town last weekend when I heard this wild gospel music and found its source in Tiffany's. These women has voices ten times as big as them and this little girl was in love. She was really jiving with them.
My down comforter was lovingly shipped to me by Tom McCormick (thank you, thank you!) and now I never want to get out of bed. The cold has set in and there is no insulation in any building in Japan. Or central heating. My students bring blankets to school and I am drinking endless cups of hot water just so I can have something warm to wrap my hands around.
Thank you to the loves who sent me pretty little cards and drawings! So nice to see every day! I sorely miss thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales! It is one of the best things in the world to sift through old treasures and find some (super cheap) gems here and there. I miss finding old photographs and pictures and whatever...
A breakfast remninescant of Storey St. Pea shoot omlette with ham and tomato toast. Wish you could join me! Or that I could carry it out to the back porch and enjoy it in the sun!
They sell this kind of really small potato here that I am in love with. I have convinced myself that I hate potatoes for their often grainy texture and lack of any nutritional value whatsoever but these little guys I can't resist.

My school's most recent music performance. That guy in the middle in the tux is singing the opera version of "My Way" in Japanese. Brilliant. "Frank Sinatra sings opera in Japanese" is the icing on my day!


vanessa said...

personally, i am really enjoying that pink christmas tree.

also, guess who stated a blog?

E-bad said...

I've only been to the Narita (sp?) airport, but I fully relate to that Col. Sanders after teaching English in China. Do they dress the local zoo's penguin's up like they do in Tokyo?