Monday, December 14, 2009

'Tis The Season

Christmas is alive and well in Japan, albeit slightly different. It's for children and sweethearts. Families have a big New Year celebration. But Yokosuka looks like any city dressed for the season, and the lines outside the local mall Saturday morning would've rivaled Space Mountain.
On December 5th, we went to Tokyo with the Russells for the hospital holiday party. The Russells caught the train at their local station and we met up with it in Kanazawa Bunko. That plan was put together by Allan and Gene and it worked like a charm. When the doors opened, we heard Gene calling us and we hurried to their car. The best thing was accessing the hotel through the underground passage as it was cold and rainy.
We dropped the luggage with the Bell Captain, and Allan took us to his favorite restaurant in Tokyo. I gotta admit, I do like the shrimp balls, and most everything else. Allan and Gene enjoyed beer and sake. There's no rule about mixing drinks here, you start with beer and then moving on to sake (it's not pronounced saw-kee, it's sah-keh). The restaurant is Gonpachi in the Roppongi district. I took this shot. I'd say Allan, Raeni and Gene are enjoying Gonpachi.

We took our time with lunch and a little browsing in the subway shoppes. Back at our hotel, guests were gathering for a wedding which we watched from the sidelines. It was a western style affair. Because of the weather, we caught a cab to the party, which was at the New Sanno, the American military hotel. I neglected to put my ID card inside my evening bag, which was a bit of an issue. There was dinner and dancing, and I was glad we decided not to take the 2-hour bus ride from the base to the party and back.
After sleeping in and grabbing lunch in the subway, we got the train home. Even in the subway you can get a good lunch. But then we love the food here.

The following Friday was the first night of Hanukkah (Dec. 11), and we lit candles with our Friday night group at the chapel on base. We didn't have dinner with them. We had steak and pototoes at the VFW. Yes, there is an American VFW in Yokosuka, and we met several retired and former Navy enlisted that night. This gathering was Allan's dive group, called the Bubble Club. A few of the crazier ones (yes Allan) are diving this Sunday, probably in 50 degree weather.

On Saturday, we went to Atsugi Naval Base for services and a Hanukkah party with folks from other bases in the area. Atsugi is where the aircraft from the USS George Washington 'park' (above) when the ship is in port in Yokosuka. The GW is a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, and not everyone is happy about having it docked at a Japanese port. Maintaining relations with Japan is a high priority for the command here, and they seem to have worked something out regarding the ship.

The chapel at Atsugi might have been built before it was a base. Someone put a very non-ornate cross on top of a shrine or a dojo (temple of martial arts), but the inside is very 'church' looking, and there were wreaths on the doors. We used a very plain room for our little shindig and had lunch and a rowsing dreidl game.

This week and next week, I teach English at the Turtle School. I was reading a book about feudal Japan during the train ride to Kawasaki. The lead character is on her way to Kyoto, but she had gotten as far as Kawasaki. I got so engrossed, I almost missed my stop.

I taught 4th - 11th graders in seven different classes. I don't want to go to Kawasaki too much more. I hope to get some students here. I teach a Monday group on base which is military wives. They are Chinese, Thai, Ethopian and Japanese women.

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