My very first Japanese friend, I will call her “T”, overhead me mention that I like the iris flower (Hana Shobu). In late May, she invited me on an excursion to Fukiage Shobu Park in her home city of Ome (see http://www.city.ome.tokyo.jp/koen/documents/Fukiage_shobu_park.pdf). What an incredible experience – raised wooden walkways winding through former rice paddies featuring 216 different types of irises, all shades of purple and what. In addition pink and white lotus flowers sat on the surface of the water below the walkways. We wandered through the park “ooohing and aaaaahing” with each new find. On the perimeter of the walkways, we spotted other flowers, hydrangea in particular. The park was so peaceful and quiet, even though the city was all around.
T then took me to an okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes made with meat and vegetables) restaurant where you grill your own food at the table. This restaurants was one of the traditional restaurants that requires you to remove your shoes. I placed mine in a numbered wooden locker and removed the wooden “card” which locks the locker and then when re-inserted, opens the locker when you are ready to leave. All the tables were low to the floor…however, there was a sunken area under the table where you put your feet, so that you are sitting upright, like you were in a chair! The table top was a flat grill of sorts and the waitress greeted us and turned the grill on. T explained the options and I decided on beef and vegetables for my okonomiyaki. My meal arrived in a dish, all the indredients (rice, beef, vegetables, etc) were in one dish topped with a raw egg. I began stirring my bowl of ingedients an when it was sufficiently mixed, T had me pour it on the grill and shape it a litle. It probably took about 5-10 minutes to cook on one side, and then, using metal spatula type tools, we turned the okonomyaki over to cook on the other side. When it was done, T helped me with the different condiments (I like mine iwth soy sauce rice vinegar and a few drops of hot sauce). It was delicious and such fun. Definitely will return!
I love my Japanese friends! We always seem to overcome the communication challenges one way or another. This very special adventure involved one of my Japanese friends (who I will refer to as “C”) taking me to an actual, honest-to- goodness traditional tea ceremony, which I thought was to be held in a home. I was very excited about the tea ceremony and honored to be able to visit a Japanese home! My husband dropped me off at the train station and I was off on the 16 minute train ride to Hachioji.
C was to meet me at the station, but I was a little anxious Continue reading