Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve

I had the time of my life tonight celebrating Christmas with my neighbors. We went out to a great traditional Japanese restaurant and sat upstairs over the river, listening to quiet jazz music and eating gross food. It was awesome. We sat and talked for 3 1/2 hours (my legs are killing me) and snapped plenty of pictures. Nobu-san even brought his video camera so we could all say "Merry Christmas" on tape. (For reasons my American friends and I haven't really figured out, saying "Merry Christmas" to a Japanese person is always a thrilling experience -- they laugh like you've just told the best joke on earth, and then usually ask you to say it again.) We have small electronic translators that we have to use for a few words in every sentence, so the conversation is slow going, and there is generally a lot of sign language involved. (Although even that can be confusing! If you were to touch your nose during a conversation, an American might assume you're telling a story about your nose. Here, you touch your nose when you say "my" as in "my house.") I told my neighbors that I think I've found another house in this area (I have to move soon!) and described that it is about 5 kms away from our neighborhood. They asked if I would come visit them for many, many slumber parties after I move. Isn't that sweet? I always have an amazing time with the Oyama-sans. I was really overwhelmed with the experience. When we got home, they brought over a bag of presents for me, and we went through the whole "Merry Christmas!" thing again.

So tonight Santa-san comes to visit every house in Japan, and he will leave a toy on the floor by the bed roll of every Japanese child. I had a great time explaining that in American, children leave milk (miruku) and cookies out for Santa, and when the children wake up, they look to see that Santa has eaten the cookies. Wow, they got a charge out of that. It's so fun to explain American traditions and culture, and to learn more about Japan through our conversations.

What a night! I'm going to go floss now. Merry Christmas Eve!

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