I would like to praise the friend-making powers of Sake.
Sunday night Fukuda-san invited me to her house for a dinner party. Since Saturday she and her husband bought me my new pets, I wanted to bring them a good present. Also, her husband is the principal of the main Junior High School I will go to, so making friends with him will make life easier for me (although it took me the longest time to figure out he was her husband- she always calls him father). Anyway I got on my bike and cycled up to the Sake-ya-san (Liquor Vendor) and asked for some of that delicious sake I drank at our welcome party. The Fukudas were very impressed and grateful. In fact, Mr. Fukuda-san REALLY liked the sake. Upon seeing it- "Natalie" he says to me, "Natalie, when you come to Nita Junior High, I am going to put your desk next to mine." Everyone laughed. It was a fun night.
Yesterday apparently in the morning he went to Matsue, Shimane-ken's largest city, and took a traditional candy making class. So last night he presented me with these:They are omochi- rice flour candies filled with sweet bean paste. Omochi is a very traditional "candy" but are just usually little circles. The pink one is a tulip and the white one is a swan. And he made them. By hand. They are too pretty to eat I think.
Tomizawa-sensei, my awesome college Japanese professor, often spoke of the small actions Japanese people use that are designed to make social interaction easier. Japanese culture is filled with many ridiculously kind and polite words and oppourtunities to give small presents in order to foster good feelings between people. Japan is such a crowded place and so community oriented that without these social tidings everyone would probably want to kill each other. I have found that seriously, fostering good feelings makes the world go around in Japan.
You know? I have a tulip and a swan made out of rice. Who else can say that.
As there are minors reading this blog I felt that I should add I think there is nothing wrong with drinking: it's being stupid about it that is a problem. Binge drinking or drinking when you are underage is pretty dumb. What's the legal blood alcohol limit in Japan? Zero. That's right. One sip and you're out. Funny to think that when in America being a "DD" means sticking to just a couple drinks. Sake in Japan is considered sacred and is given to the gods at local shrines and temples. So bottom line? Don't be a baka.