For those of you that don’t know, Yasu was my upstairs neighbour when I lived in rural Japan. However, we never actually spoke to each other – I didn’t know she existed, and she was too shy to approach me – you know, scary foreigner alert. The day Yasu moved out of our tiny apartment complex, she left a letter on my doorstep:
Ms Anisa I am Yasuko from upstairs. I wanted to always talk with you. But I will move on April 30 to next village. The new address is Nishiawakura village. If you don’t mind, could you hang out with me sometime? I am really bad at English, but I hope we could be good friends.
And the rest is history. During my last six months in Japan, Yasu and I became inseparable. And when I eventually moved to the city, she came to visit me. Recently, Yasu spent 10 days in New Zealand. Here are the highlights:
Here I am stealing S’s car for our upcoming roadies.
Castle Hill desu.
Yasu hugely appreciated NZ cheese!
This scenery reminded us a little of our old home in Higashiawakura (see below).
Another day, another picnic, Hanmer Springs Desu.
Yasu 2.0 coming soon…
The night before I was to be leaving Soroosh in Nashville, he read me a children’s book to calm my nerves. You may know it, apparently it’s quite popular but at the time, I didn’t. The Kissing Hand as the title suggests is a kiss in a hand gently pressed on its recipient’s face.
I recently received this kiss in the mail.
The first time I experienced origami (the art of paper folding) was in Japan where a coworker asked an entire class to make a paper crane, write their name on it and later stand and declare: “this crane was made by (insert name here)” as a way of introducing themselves. I remember silently panicking for the students who wouldn’t know how to do it. Turns out I had no idea. Every student made a crane. And they made them fast!
You know how they say only in hindsight can you realise the true value of a moment? Well, I remember feeling extremely homesick and out of my comfort zone that very make-a-crane day. However, if it wasn’t for that unique experience, I wouldn’t have been able to pass on the art to my new students today.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~C.S. Lewis (Coffee. He means a cup of coffee!)
You know round Saturn peaches? Well, turns out they have pretty inappropriate looking nectarine cousins and here’s one of them.
Another classic NZ dish: the humble meat pie (which I wrote a 3000 word University essay on one day), Castle Hill (famous from Narnia) and last: a nostalgic New Year’s Eve countdown in Hagley Park featuring back-to-back country music which took me straight back to Nashville and to my sweetheart’s arms.
So Yuko and her family are here. Here in NZ for the very first time and I think they’re loving it. Here are day one’s pictures so you can also be with us:
First up, omiyage or in English, souvenirs. These are a HUGE part of Japanese culture. We all received gift(S). That’s right, not one but many presents (including my sister’s dogs, Lucky and Ella).
After resting, we took the family to Christchurch’s Botanical Gardens where they exhausted their cameras.
Two beautiful roses.
Last remnants of Christmas…
Last but not least, our guests’ first meal in NZ: pneumatic curly fries and sliders at the world-renowned C1espresso. Come on, how cool is that?!
And…someone else happened to like them too! #embarassing.
Friends! I have officially seen my most favorite ever movie. It’s called Tampopo, it’s Japanese and it’s extremely funny. And charming. And saliva-inducing. Oh man. This film is the shizzlemanizzle of all movies. It is a black and white 1985 film which has been given a new 4k restoration in the past few weeks. I liked it because it had something for everybody. From steamy sex scenes, to ramen close-ups to Tekken fighting. Though I must say, being an old film (and Japanese) the film did contain several unPC (nonPC?) scenes. I’m talking animal cruelty and borderline child pornography. That sounds bad… it wasn’t that bad. Well, I don’t think… Either that or I am a horrible person for laughing.
My love and I watched Tampopo at The Belcourt here in Nashville. So, I’m guessing if you want to see it, you’ll have to look up your local artsy theatre or something. I also enjoyed it because I could understand 50% of the Japanese. Go me!
What else? Tomorrow I’m leaving. I’ll be soaring Nashville to LA to Auckland to Christchurch with very short stops in between (yay!). Please wish me a safe flight and be sure to keep reading for before long, I’ll be posting A LOT of NZ scenery.