Recently, I feel like I've gotten more and more requests to have dinner and people's homes. I think it's a sign that I'm starting to fit in with my coworkers at the schools I visit and, perhaps, that my Japanese is getting good enough that people feel comfortable inviting me into their homes. Here are just a few photos of dinner with some of my coworkers and friends.
The man in the photo above works at my base school in the office. He is super nice, and being that I'm a year younger than his oldest daughter (in white) I think he sees me as a sort of daughter to him.The other night this past week he invited me over to have dinner with two of his three daughters and his wife. His wife studied English at college and despite not using it much in the past decade or so, speaks quite well. His oldest daughter also speaks well because she lived in Belgium for two years and now studies in Tokyo. The youngest daughter, in yellow, knows English at a good level for a high school student, but was a bit shy around me. Dinner was very traditionally Japanese - the closest plate was a soy pastry with meat inside, the middle plate was a fried rice dish, the far plate was a daikon seaweed salad. We also had miso soup, tea, and a roll cake for dessert. There were pickeled vegetables, but I tend to avoid those if I can.
This was the party that I went to last weekend. All four of the Japanese people there (one is taking the photo) are teachers, and three teach at schools that I visit. The man sitting next to me is an English teacher who studied for a year in Storm Lake, Iowa! I wondered how he could possibly know of Sioux Falls, SD when I told him where I was from, but that explains it. He also is the coach of the girls tennis team at one of my high schools. When the weather gets better, I'll join the team when I can. He and his wife (next to him) honeymooned in the States and we got to see a lot of their photos that night. I also enjoyed the food because it's been a while since I've had tacos, salsa, and Coronas!
This is an old photo, but it was one of my first experiences with Japanese hospitality. I work with both women at my base school, and they invited me over for some tea. I didn't realize that they had bought a cake for me for my birthday! It meant a lot because I had only been in Japan for a few weeks at this time and was bummed that I couldn't be home for my birthday.
All in all I've had a great time in Japan. As I'm here longer and longer, invitations for dinner or parties become more frequent and I feel like I'm actually starting to make Japanese friends. I'm looking forward to what this next year might bring!