Last Tuesday, Japan observed its National Labour Thanksgiving Day. A wonderful day that is intended to thank all of the hard workers (myself included). It became a legal holiday right after WWII, but the tradition started back in the 500's when the rice farmers would give thanks to their god for giving them a good crop during the year. So to spend my holiday, I was asked to played golf with 23 people from the town hall. Little did I know, I was considered a guest of honor and would play with the mayor! It was honestly a very uneventful round. As I wrote before, golf takes FOREVER here. It took 6 hours to just play 18 holes (that's excluding breakfast before, practice before, lunch at the turn, a shower after the round, and the final after the round party/awards ceremony). For those of you unfamiliar with golf, a normal round is between 4-5 hours, closer to 4.5, but hardly ever over 5 (unless you had the “opportunity” to play in a few collegiate tournaments). Yes, so it was a long day. I do miss American golf, mainly because it doesn't take an entire day.
This weekend I met up with some fellow ALTs in my prefecture and we explored the Mino Town area. It is a historic town, well known throughout the prefecture for its papermaking and paper lanterns. Each fall it hosts a festival, which I didn't make it to this year, but heard it was impressive. On Saturday the four of us, did some quality retail shopping. The shops were quaint but full of color and had very impressive paper goodies.
The Wonderful Colors of Autumn Trees
Shop, Shop, Temple, Shop...You Know, Completely Normal
When we first got there, we were a bit hungry, so we stopped into a soba shop for a cup of noodles. I ordered the soba with tempura vegetables. And it was yummy (I was about 5 bites in before I realized I should take a picture, sorry). After lunch and surprisingly quite a few compliments about our Japanese skills, we headed on to spend some well-earned money. I can't tell you about what I bought, because that would ruin the surprise for some lucky individuals. However, I am happy to say I supported their community and I really want to go back.
A Lady Making Paper Lanterns
The Coolest Lantern Shop. Think IKEA x 1000
Sunday was a rather lazy Sunday. After several loads of laundry and an extravagant blueberry pancakes breakfast, I finally encouraged myself to do some more shopping. I went to the newest mall about 10 minutes away by car. I noticed that there was a little more traffic than normal on the roads but I didn't concern myself over it too much. But then! I turned onto the road that the mall is on, and holy smokes, I can't tell you how many cars I saw. It was like Black Friday (but instead, Black Sunday). This mall was PACKED! It was unreal. Before I went, I thought I'd only be there for 30 minutes, get my stuff and move on, but when I realized this adventure would take forever, I stopped into the Doutor coffee shop for an afternoon treat. In Japan, they have a lot of morning or afternoon sets, meaning you get a drink and a snack for a set price. So at this national coffee chain, I paid the set price of 500 yen or $6 and got to pick from 5 different cakes and 8 different drinks. I noticed that they had a pumpkin pie-ish concoction, and that's what sealed the deal. Since I missed out on Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, I figured this was as close as I was going to get. So a slice of pie and cup of coffee later, I was back in the shopping mood. My ultimate goal of going to the mall was to buy peanut butter, since the grocery store in the mall is the only store in my area where I can buy real peanut butter, granted its $6 for about 8 ounces, but it's totally worth it. When I saw that all 13 cash registers were open and this is the complete truth, 4 or 5 people in each line, I knew I wouldn't be buying my peanut butter.
Pumpkin Pie-ish and Coffee :)
The "Bigger" Train Station in Kani City. 2 Tracks. 3 Stops From My Apt
So, my Sunday ended up being more eventful than I realized, but everyone here is getting in the Christmas spirit. Everywhere I go, stores are playing English Christmas music and I love to sing along. Only 24 days until I board my US bound airplane(s) and train(s) and the days just can't go by any slower.