Pokemon really became a thing in Australia when I was 13 or 14. You might think that would have made me a bit old for the craze. Wrong. Continue reading
Yesterday, I picked up an extra shift teaching English at a kindergarten and, while out there, I noticed several kids that looked “haafu” – half, the Japanese (borrow) word for mixed race. Continue reading
Miso chicken sukiyaki don, salad, soup, tsukune and pickles, and a vanilla pudding in the center.
TONVEGE is actually a shabu shabu restaurant, but it offers these lunch sets as well and this one was seriously good. The restaurant is in Lumine EST, somewhere in the vicinity of Shinjuku station’s east exit. I think so, anyway – I’ve been to that train station so many times now over the years and I’m armed with Google maps these days, and I still manage to come off second best navigation-wise.
Yesterday, we did okuizome, a “first meal” ceremony held for Japanese babies when they reach either 100 or 120 days old (depending on the region). My mother-in-law brought over the elaborate food shown above and laid it out on the special dishes above. The dishes have been in the family for 40 years, so I guess that was kind of neat.
Mr. K didn’t actually eat of the food; even if babies were encouraged to be weaned that young, the food would have been far too rich for him.From what I can gather, it’s meant to be a time for families to gather and most families pretend to feed the baby and then carry on feasting. Link link here! My mother-in-law basically orchestrated the whole thing without consulting or inviting anyone else, and R pretended to share some of his lunch with Mr. K, a takeout bento that is definitely not pictured above. After setting out all the dishes, my mother-in-law took some photos of the food (I’m not 100% sure she included Mr. K in the photos at all; I was holding him and there was certainly no attempt to make us pose?) and packed everything away again.I spent most of my time trying to keep an increasingly grumpy baby in check and waiting for instructions that never came.
Why yes, my relationship with my mother-in-law is a difficult one!
Anyway, I don’t want to detract from what could be a nice ceremony with my husband’s family’s bizarre behaviour. I think, in different circumstances, it’s quite a cute thing to do, it’s certainly very pretty looking and given I identify as agnostic these days, I think it could be a good alternative to a Christening.
Since Mr K was born, I’ve had the pleasant experience of people falling over themselves to help me when I go out in public with him. They hold doors open for us, clear paths for us, and spring up from their seats to offer them to me. I even had an elderly lady help me haul the pram (and the grumpy baby therein) onto the bus today. It’s great!
I can’t help but feel a little frustrated on behalf of my former self, though. When I was pregnant, it was a different story completely. I had a grand total of two people offer me seats during the whole forty weeks (and two days), and both of them (a mother with a baby and a very old lady) were in need of seats themselves. There’s nothing like catching the bus on what is supposed to be your due date and STILL not being able to get a seat.
While the pram can be a bit of a pain to lug around, doors present a strange new challenge and I feel even more anxious about taking up too much space in petite Japan than I usually do, I am physically fine. Yes, I’m tired – sometimes very tired – but I otherwise feel pretty much like myself. I wouldn’t say managing Mr. K in public is necessarily easy, but it’s something I feel capable of doing.
When I was pregnant, though? I felt crap almost from the outset. It was nine months of extreme fatigue, physically and mentally, not to mention the morning sickness and aching body. I might not have felt utterly incapable of getting myself around, but it frequently meant summoning reserves of energy and exerting extra effort.
I know it can be hard to tell if someone’s pregnant or not sometimes and there’s a risk of awkwardness (Japan doesn’t have that excuse, by the way – pregnant women have been getting the above-pictured tags issued by their cities for their bags, which clearly state the woman is pregnant, since 2007). While I’m not ungrateful and I don’t wish to sound it, if I could choose between getting those little acts of kindness right now and back then, I would be choosing pregnancy.
Recently, a link concerning Japan’s seasons was shared on one of my Facebook groups. It turns out that, in ancient Japan, the year was divided first into 24 periods. In each of those time periods, three “microseasons” were described:
The 24 divisions are each split again into three for a total of 72 kō that last around five days each. The names were also originally taken from China, but they did not always match up well with the local climate. In Japan, they were eventually rewritten in 1685 by the court astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. In their present form, they offer a poetic journey through the Japanese year in which the land awakens and blooms with life and activity before returning to slumber.
If you follow the link here, you can read the full list of microseasons, which have lovely names like “Mist starts to linger” (February 24 – 28), “Warm winds blow” (July 7-11) and “Chrysanthemums bloom” (October 13-17).
A couple of things strike me about the list. First, they seem to describe a cooler Japan. This could be Shunkai downplaying the awfulness of midsummer but, given what we know about global warning, it may be that the seasons really have changed now. In lieu of that, it also seems to be that there are some things missing. July 2-6, for instance, could easily be recast as “heavy rains fall” (i.e. rainy season) and, as I wrote about recently, mid February could be called a more poetic version of “fake spring”, like “brief burst of warmth.”
What about where you live? Are there some “microseasons” that vary enough within the regular four seasons that they deserve some special recognition and/or a beautiful name?