Sunday, January 17, 2010
Our room didn't have standard beds; when we returned for dinner the table had been slid out of the way and five futons had been set up. Kind of like camping, only in a room. It's called a Tatami room. Very Japanese.
Our dinners consisted of two large bento boxes with an assortment of appetizers, and on top of that we had tempura, a hot pot, miso soup and rice. We improved our finger dexterity with chopsticks.
By the second night, we were very relaxed and wore the pajama like outfits they provided to dinner, and well, just about everywhere.
Four ski areas connected at the top provided plenty of variety. We would have loved to ski it with 6 inches of fresh powder, but instead it was rather wind-packed. still nice, though. The mountain above is known as the Mt. Fuji of the north. We got a peek at the top one time during the two days we skiied.
Upon returning, we were able to attend a service at the church Celia and Keith are involved in. Tony was giving the children's sermon. Their weekly attendance is about 30, typical of many Japanese churches. What a privilege to fellowship with these believers in Japan. We are all members of the same body of Christ!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
We had a hands on lesson in ikebana, Japanese flower arranging.
Dressing in a Kimono is a long and complicated process, as demonstrated here. A very skilled Japanese woman can do it by herself in about a half hour. Kimonos are worn when a woman wants to dress up. We observed a number of women dressed in Kimonos when going to the shrine on New Years Day. A group of older women going out to lunch were all in Kimonos. We had some dinner guests over to the house and the mother wore her Kimono. The look is quite lovely.
Last, we were entertained by a group performing on traditional instruments. Two people sang and a dancer interpreted the songs. They were good!
Celia had a chance to practice the shamisen after the concert. I was interested in the musical notation for the koto (the long stringed instrument), which was very different from our staff. It took a while to figure it out.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Here we are at the top. There might have been a great view, but we couldn't see much of it. We were able to see some of the city.
Monday, January 4, 2010
In Japan, New Years is the biggest holiday of the year. We had a full day of celebrating in the Japanese style. December 31 is a day of preparation, especially for the woman of the house. She prepares very special food for the New Years bento box. Celia had purchased a book with recipes for this bento box, but really it is all about presentation. Colin and I joined in the preparatons by making gyoza.
We began new years day by attending a church service at one of the largest Christian churches in Sapporo.
Following the service, we were served very strong tea and a sweet candy made of red beans.
Hot rice is placed in a wooden tub. The man's job (Colin helped out...) is to pound the rice into a sticky pulp. The woman's job is to knead the rice between each pound, add water, and pull her hand out in the nick of time. We think Colin was actually on the upstroke in this picture, because he didn't nail her hand. She was really fast, too.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
When we got up the next morning, we opened presents. Celia and Keith are wearing the hats we gave them. We received all kinds of interesting Japanese food items.
For lunch, we went downtown and ate ramen. It was a very busy shopping day, due to the upcoming holiday (New Years).
We took a tram to the top of Mt. Moiwa. At 1500 feet, it provides a panaramic view of the city to the north and the mountains to the south. All this below is Sapporo.
We waited until dark and enjoyed watching the lights of the city come on.
Before going home, we walked around Odori park and enjoyed an extensive display of Christmas lights.
The next day (30th) we ate sushi at a shop owned by a man who is a member of the church Celia and Keith work with. This was real sushi - the best! We had such adventuresome things as raw clam, scallop and some local Hokkiado fish. Everything was very tender.
Later that day we had a unique cultural experience at the local Onsen. What is an Onsen? It is a place for bathing and soaking in hot pools. We don't have any photos of our time there, because, well, you don't wear a swimsuit. The men and women's pools are completely separate. In addition to the hot pools, there is a cold pool - really cold - and I managed to dip in it two times. Then it was right back to the hot pools. We preferred soaking in the outdoor pools where music was playing and we could watch the snow falling.