Last weekend marked the end of three months that I have been in Japan, which was the convenient week of Thanksgiving. And when I say that it was thanksgiving week I mean a lot of the JSP’s were sad about the first thanksgiving away from home and no one in Japan had any idea what we were talking about. Apparently my Japanese teacher when she went to America for her first year had no idea what Thanksgiving was, and since she didn’t understand English very well she was caught totally off guard by all the stores being closed. I know a lot of people in America complain about how right after thanksgiving the nation immediately begins to prepare for Christmas, but in Japan without that buffer of thanksgiving they start putting up decorations right after Halloween. I saw my first Christmas tree the first week in November- which seemed really early to me. For me, I’ve been missing thanksgiving for a few years now and so this wasn’t that much of a shock for me. Especially since there weren’t constant reminders hanging around that I should be back home with my family. Instead of turkey our coordinator Matt arranged for us to eat at a local restaurant with a buffet of Japanese style fried things and our own very large bottles of beer. The meal was a total success and despite the non-traditional food I had a really good time. Afterwards as is the style in Japan we went to an Izakaya but the night ended early due to the fact that we all had class the next day. We had also had had class the day of Thanksgiving too. No holiday, no break but most of us didn’t do our homework anyway.
This weekend was kind of a me and Jen affair. I went with her to Harajuku, which most of you should know. And Ginza – which is the really ritzy shopping area in Tokyo. That is where the designer clothes are located and we went window-shopping and ate impressively good Italian food for Japan. In Harajuku we went to the H & M, which is a long standing department store in the US – but there are two new stores in Japan. The stores clothes are naturally tailored to Japanese crazy fashions and more expensive in the US and the Japanese love them. We had to stand in line in order to get in the store and the store was packed full of people buying cute clothes at moderate prices. Japan loves a bargain. Sunday I went with Jen and our long absent friend Tomoki to Ikebukuro and ate in this weird amusement park that has food specialties. There was a whole section devoted to gyoza stands and then an ice cream land –where I ate edamame ice cream and Jen ate wasabi, and a chocolate fountain section. It was very Japanese. And very weird. I will admit that I too have finals coming up and there could not be a more distracting place than Tokyo to keep me from being a good student. Next week is the last week of classes and then the week after that I come home. Its hard to think about –mostly because I have no idea how I am going to fit everything in my suitcase. But time will undoubtably fly.