Japan 2014 post 53

November twenty fourth
I fell asleep around 12:30 last night, so unfortunately I got less than eight hours of sleep when my alarm woke me up at eight. In fact when it first went off I thought I was just getting a text message, and ignored it for a moment. But thankfully I remembered that I had actually set it, and I got up and had a shower. I thought I had turned the alarm off, but it must’ve just snoozed it, because Yatchan told me it was going off when I got out of the shower.
For pre-breakfast I had a mikkan while I worked on my journal. I’d been way too tired to do it last night, but I wasn’t able to finish it before breakfast this morning. Yatchan made us delicious sausages, and eggs, and we had yogurt too. I also tried this tasty thing called Yakult, which is some sort of milky, bacteria drink. It does the same thing as yogurt.
After breakfast we all got dressed up. I wore my burgundy dress shirt, and a pair of jeans (Catherine had given me a pair since all of mine were ripped. I wore them last night too). Everyone else was fancier, but I was good enough. In Japan the ages 7-5-3 are very important (3 and 7 for girls, 5 for boys). And at those ages there are special pictures that are taken, often wearing traditional kimonos. There are also special prayers at the shrine, giving thanks for brining the child into the world, keeping them alive and healthy, and asking that they have a long life. Well, Ayana (and Atsushi, Catherine, and Yatchan) had already had the pictures taken, but we had to go back to the studio to pick them up. All of them were beautiful, Thw whole family! Not only were we going to pick up the pictures though, the studio was doing her hair, makeup, and kimono again. I did a little bit of writing while we waited, but the tables they had were too low to write comfortably on, and it was also uncomfortable to hold my iPad on my lap. So I didn’t do very much.
Once Ayana was done, we carefully got into the car (not wanting to mess up her kimono), and drove to a shrine. We went to the rabbit shrine, which I’ve never been in before, but is actually really close to the tea house that I went to a while ago. At the gates I had the craziest dejavu. It’s something that often happens to me, but this time it was double or triple dejavu! As in, I felt like it had happened several times. But I knew it couldn’t be, since I’d never been at the rabbit shrine before… But after that, we continued into the shrine and it was fine. It was super beautiful. It’s a fair bit bigger than the shrine by our house, with a lot more to it than the actual shrine. I don’t know what everything was, but it was all gorgeous. When we entered the shrine we had to wash our hands at a fountain. Usually the fountain is shaped like a dragon, but here it was a rabbit! After registering we proceeded right into the shrine part of the shrine. Usually when you pray you’re on the outside, but we went right inside. We had to wait a little while, but then us and one other family went right in. Ayana and the other children kneeled at the front (we were in a fairly small tatami room), and the families kneeled just behind them. In front of us there was a small altar. In fact it looked sort of similar to a Christian altar. There was a table, then behind it another table against a wall. Everything was symmetrical, and it was really nice. I wish I could’ve taken a picture, but Catherine and I assumed that we shouldn’t. The priest looked sort of similar to an Anglican too. He had a really nice green kimono, it sort of looked like a cope that dad has. He was wearing a black hat as well, but it wasn’t very much like a bishops. Anyways, during the ceremony there was a fair bit of bowing, some clapping, and at one point the priest waved a stick over us, and it had lots of strands of white paper tied to it. At the end, the children each got symbolic gifts. A long, thin candy to symbolize healthy growth and longevity, and a cup with a rabbit on it. The ceremony was super interesting, and I wish I could’ve understood it more. And it would’ve been great to talk to a priest! But alas…
While I wasn’t able to take any pictures in the place where the ceremony happened, I took lots of pictures elsewhere. There was this one place where the ground was covered in golden leaves, and there were these two huge gate-like trees. It was awesome. In fact there were tons of trees, and a pond with a rabbit fountain. I would’ve liked to stick around and check things out, but we had to head home.
On our way we saw a gorgeous white dog running around in the middle of a busy intersection. It nearly got hit a couple times, but no one did anything to get it away! There were tons of pedestrians, and even a few people in uniform (they were some sort bike watchers, but still) and no one tried to do anything. They just walked right by and continued in their way while the dog ran around confusedly. Catherine said it was very Japanese for no one to try to do anything.
When we got home we just picked up lunch from McDonalds. I got a Big Mac, but it made me realize something. I’ll admit it, I like the taste (I even think Japanese McDonalds tastes better), but it’s mostly empty calories… The food has a lot of calories in it, but it doesn’t fill me up so much. So after my set from the store, I had some mochi with cheese on top. After I finished I was working on my blogging, and Eriko came over. Earlier in the day Ayana had went around to meet the neighbours in her kimono, so Eriko had a little gift for her. And a gift for me too. A beautiful set of seventy two coloured pencils. Eriko is such a great person, and I’m really thankful!
The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful. I reviewed in my Japanese textbook, did some blogging, and got in fifteen minutes of parkour. After that we were out for an hour and a half. We dropped Catherine off at Kompao for Shigedi and Yasuhiro’s lesson. Then the rest of us dropped off Ayana’s kimono at the studio (which is quite a ways away). On the way we played Japanese car games, like “What words start with shi (し).” Then we had to name as many words starting with that letter as we could. We also played a little game where someone said a word, then the next person had to say one ending with the last letter of the previous word. For example ねこ (cat), then こども (children), and on and on. It’s meant mostly as study time for Atsushi, but it was great study for me too. And his vocabulary is much bigger than mine!
Before picking Catherine up, we stopped for a bit of shopping. I stayed in the car with sleeping Atsushi. We had to get some ingredients for Catherine to make Okonomiyaki. It was amazing! And the smell was almost way too good while Catherine was cooking, I could barely stand it! I realized that Yatchan’s casual wear was almost the same as my fancy. He was wearing jeans, and a green shirt that other than the colour was nearly identical to mine! But Catherine said I looked very nice today too. After supper I helped with the dishes, got ready for bed, and hoped for a good sleep.
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