On Sunday, I went to a welcome party at an izakaya to celebrate the arrival of a new co-worker. What was a little bit different from usual, was that I took care of booking it. I made the reservation and confirmed it over the telephone. I'm so proud that I could do that!
We played this drinking game where you sing this song while clapping, then make a special hand movement. When I first saw it being played at my first party, I assumed I was about to learn an ancient Japanese game. But, it turned out it was based on fast food! You sing 「美味しい笑顔、マクドナルド！」 (which sounds a lot better if you can't read Japanese!) and then make either a hamburger, shake, fries or smile sign. The first person to match with the leader in a clockwise direction around the table has to down their drink. Then they become the leader.
On Monday, I made some Japanese sweets at the international society. I arrived a little early, so I talked to the cookery teacher and she showed me a small photo album of the sweets she had made. (Most of the implements she had bought at Kappabashi, which I went to once. I was disappointed there weren't many kappa, seeing as I had no interest in buying kitchenware on holiday. I realise that sounds a little crazy, but I had seen a program on TV the evening before where the presenters (one of whom was dressed as kappamaki) had found lots of stone kappa and kappa merchandise.)
The first thing we made was a bean paste sweet. You start with a dyed yellow ball of paste made from white ingen (白いんげん) and a ball of red paste made from azuki (小豆). These balls were both pressed through a sieve to make 'strands' of paste. There was another ball of azuki paste, which wasn't as finely shredded as the first ball. Using chopsticks, we pressed the strands of yellow and red paste into the ball. Finally, we sprinkled shimo on the top, which is a sugar frosting. It was then placed on a flower-shaped presentation pad.
Next, the teacher prepared a mix containing pink dye (赤・着色料), mizuame (水あめ), kanbaiko (寒梅粉) and rice sugar (上白糖). She pushed it into a mould and tapped it out on the table. I went first after her and all eyes were on me. They thought it kind of funny that I was so nervous at being next. But I tapped it out – and mine didn't look that different!
Today I went to my shamisen lesson. With this lesson, I suddenly decided I'd got noticeably better. My sense of rhythm (usually zero) was pretty good today.
Afterwards, I tried on a kimono and it looks like there are no ready-made kimono in my size, so I'll have to custom-order one. There was one wide kimono, but it was really baggy around the waist. I guess I need a more... tailored one. But that means I can choose the material and everything.
I also talked to my teacher about business cards and she said that one of her students was in the business of making them. She'll pass my details on and I might even get a good discount. I've been wanting real business cards for some time, particularly since I moved.
On the way home, at the train station, I saw a preying mantis just sitting on the bench. She was delicate and cute, so I hope I’m right in thinking that mantises are the ones that look a little scary but are harmless to humans?
Tomorrow, I’m going to WWE with kuroe.