Please forgive the lack of any sort of order with the posting here. I wanted to post a few highlights and pictures from my family's visit between December 28 and January 11. Yes... they came all the way here to celebrate お正月(oshougatsu=Japanese New Year) with us.
Well, Christmas first. We exchanged gifts on December 29th, their first morning in Japan. Observe our tiny "Christmas tree" and reused wrapping paper.
Colin's present was clearly labeled with his name and portrait.
To fight jet lag (and to test our new hats and "yak traks"), we went out to Mt. Moiwa on the outskirts of Sapporo for a spectacular view of the city and its surroundings.
Most of us drank civilized drinks (tea and coffee) in the restaurant while we waited for the sunset, but Keith insisted on an electric green soda.
The next day, we had lunch at our favorite sushi shop.
Feeling mellow on the subway coming home from lunch. Time for the onsen (not pictured... ;)
The events of the next several days have already been covered in 2 previous posts. Suffice it to say, we celebrated New Year's and I played a concert.
The first Monday of the New Year was a Japanese Culture day at our language school. We started with Ikebana (flower arranging) class. We split into boys' team and girls' team...
Later on, we saw a concert with Japanese tradition music. I am going to learn this instrument. It is called Shamisen, and it is awesome. I even got to try it!
The koto (and its system of notation) was pretty awesome too... but I've already lost my heart to the shamisen.
That night we had friends over for dinner--my pianist, Shino-san and her mom and sister. Shino's mom showed me how to properly brew Sencha: warm the cups first so that the water is not too hot for the tea. Then pour the water into the tea pot. I hadn't realized until this particular evening that there weren't any tea cups in our current lodgings... only coffee mugs. (I went out to the local 2nd hand store to remedy that immediately.)
And I probably committed about a hundred faux pas (I don't know how to make that plural, sorry) that evening. I admire Japanese hospitality so much, but I simply haven't even scratched the surface of learning how to make Japanese guests feel comfortable in my home. This is something Japanese children learn from their parents... and my parents are not Japanese. Thankfully there are many Japanese mothers around who are happy to share their wisdom with me.
We celebrated Epiphany with fresh baked bread from our hosts, Dieter and Shelley...
Then we headed to Niseko Ski Resort by train. There we spent 3 days eating, sleeping, bathing in an amazing onsen, skiing, and generally relaxing.
Old school chairlifts. Japanese ski resorts are funded almost entirely by Australian tourists, since Japanese people usually don't have time to go skiing, except on holidays. Then everyone in Sapporo heads to the slopes together. That would be a fun day...
Hooray, I still know how to ski!
Mom and Colin are both the crazy jumping off of cliffs types, so they ski together. Luckily, no one was hurt. ;)
Dad is usually my ski buddy, since he is very relaxed about the whole thing. Stopping to rest and take pictures is okay.
Noodles for lunch! This is Japan after all...
Great scenery too.
Dinner: huge, beautiful meal back at our hotel. We were provided with yukata, so we could essentially wander around the hotel in our pajamas all evening.
We slept slumber party style, on futon on the floor of one big room... and with the skiing, the food, and the onsen, we slept really well!
That's it from me... if you want to read more about our time with my family, check out my mom's blog on Mt. Moiwa, New Year's Celebration, my concert, Japanese Culture Day, and Niseko. Toodle pip!