Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Enjoying Japan

So we have been thoroughly enjoying our time here in Japan. One weekend Brian and his brother played in a local softball game.

These boys are in their wheelhouse when playing sports I must say. Tim was catcher, Brian pitcher.. They both just really shine when doing any sort of athletics, it was fun to watch them kick butt..

We've enjoyed many amazing meals at Tim's in-laws with all of the extended family :) I love the amount of time they all spend together, there is not much of this extended family connectedness in the states I feel like..

We also went to a traditional tea ceremony which I loved! At first we had to purify ourselves before entering the tea house.

Then we each had to enter through a little door by opening it half-way with the right hand, the other half with the left hand. Brian struggled a little to get through the opening! Brian has had to do a lot of ducking and wriggling in smaller spaces here in Kyoto as a matter of fact :)

This woman was our lovely guide and teacher. She was so warm and friendly and passionate about sharing all she knew about traditional tea ceremonies with us. She at first made us tea and showed us the process of drinking it. At the end of your cup you are supposed to slurp loudly to let the host know you are done!

Then we each got to try making our own tea and sharing it with each other. Brian did a great job...

I've noticed here in Japan that it seems like everyone you come in contact with is enjoying their job, and doing their job with purpose, presence and joy. At first I found this as possibly a put on, a show, but after talking to many locals here, it seems this is genuine. Yes the taxi driver, the waitress, the grocery store clerk, the toll booth collector, they all are genuinely happy and grateful to serve you, and do so with joy and deference. Is this possible? I feel like back home I know next to no one who loves their job and does it with joy and gratitude each day. It is a really interesting thing to witness. Our friend here said that it may be from a long ingrained cultural norm of accepting "your lot in life" here. Not always craving to be richer, more influential, higher in the ranks of society. This is not a cultural element I expected of Japan, I always envisioned it as highly capitalistic, individualistic, etc. It is interesting to see this phenomena. And I love how it feels. To receive the warmth and hospitality of so many people each day as you move through this culture is just a treat. And you also see it physically around you. The stunning beauty of this city is due to the love and care of those that design and maintain the outdoor spaces including parks, gardens, etc. but also in the absolute cleanliness of every space you encounter. You can feel the pride and care of this city's inhabitants for their home all around.

The Japanese pickle EVERYTHING. And the fruits of their labor are just scrumptious. I have committed to furthering my own pickling skills once we get settled back at home...

Look at those little octopi snacks! Ha!

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