December wouldn't be December without a constant flow of holiday parties, right!?
Although Japan doesn't celebrate the advent season as traditionally as the states (everyone eats KFC on Christmas day...what??) many of my friends are still very much in the Christmas spirit. This past weekend was full of a lot of good food, awesome company, and cold weather!
This was the first day of finals so students took tests in the morning and then left after 3rd period. What that meant was that in the afternoon the school was dead quiet and the gym was empty! Whenever this happens, I always take the opportunity to go shoot some hoops.
Proud to sport the Bridge (young adult ministries) shirt from my sis and bro-in-law. "For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8. Love that verse! And also somewhere along the line I got some "baked apple pie" drink from Starbs and it was WAY TOO SWEET. pass.
For dinner Steph and I met up with Mina and Naoya in Kashiwa to eat sushi. Once a month, this restaurant in the station mall has sushi rolls for $1 and the line is usually an hour long! HAHA. We waited a little over an hour...but it was worth it.
Don't get too excited, because I still don't eat sushi. Everyone else smashed on these usually $5 rolls while I happily ate away at my tamago (egg), Nasu (eggplant), tsukemono (pickled raddish), umeboshi (sour plum), and was completely satisfied! We each ate 8-10 rolls and payed less than $40 total for the four of us. Crazy good deal!
On Friday the English department went out for lunch at the nearby golf course. We went to lunch at this same place last year during finals, so it felt very deja vu! It was a lunch buffet for $13 and it was soooo bomb. They had an ochazuke bar and I was in heaven. I ate two huge bowls!
My wonderful coworkers/family!
As we were walking out of the restaurant I realized Ikeda and Mashiko were matching perfectly!
After work, Steph and I headed to grab coffee at a nearby mall. Recently I've been feeling adventurous with my orders so I got the seasonal special and it was AWFUL. ahahha. So much for trying new things. It tasted like pure ginger and milk. Burned my throat so bad! not down.
Then...Friday night around 7pm we met up with Tamaoki and his wife Noriko at their cute little house! They invited us over for a "takoyaki" party and we had such a fun time hanging out and cooking together.
Noriko is so sweet and made sure there was plenty of non-tako ingredients (tako is octobus btw) and my favorite was mochi and cheese! They showed us their wedding videos and we looked through a bunch of their photo albums in which Noriko kept every ticket stub they had together - so cute.
Couple goals!! love them.
You would think that was enough partying for the weekend...but that was juuuuust the beginning. I woke up Saturday and headed to Omotesando to do some Christmas shopping.
Then at 4 I met up with Steph and Ayaka to get some coffee. We went to about 4 places and they were all so crowded. We ended up finding some room at Blue Bottle but even that was packed. Not cool Tokyo, not cool! But Blue Bottle omotesando does have a chill vibe...just way too touristy.
At 5:30 I headed to Roppongi to attend a Christmas party at Nathalie and Tony's house. I grabbed a pizza on the way and when I walked up to their place I saw all these shoes outside and knew it was going to be a fun night! The potluck was LEGIT and I ate my weight in chicken adobo (made by their filipino nanny) and HUMMUS. I seriously ate so much hummus hahha. I even personally thanked the lady who brought it because I was so happy.
Nathalie and Tony feel like old friends from back home, even though I've only know them a few months. They're such a fun couple and hosted a great party with a white elephant gift exchange! I walked away with the best gift in the bunch -a copy of C.S Lewis' Screwtape letters!
At 8pm or so the families with kids headed home, which left a fun crew of people who were around the same age. We have representation from California, NY, Indiana, New Zealand, Japan, and England. We played a few super fun games on the TV and it felt nice to just speak some fast witty English all night haha.
I took the train back and got home around 10:30pm and was pooped. But so thankful for a successful day in the city and for having met a lot of new friends :)
Started off Sunday at church! I love this place. We sang Christmas songs in Japanese and that was so special and poweruful.
I usually stay after to eat lunch at church but on this day I quickly made it back to the station to meet up with my dear friend Yuki in Ginza! We are both busy with work so whenever we have a small pocket of time we try and meet up. We walked around the new Tokyu Plaza mall and let me tell you...IT IS AMAZING. So well curated. bravo Ginza, bravo.
Loved all the cozy shops (although they were WAYYY over budget) and the architecture.
cool view of the city
After lunch and shopping we headed to cafe Ohana, nearby, to drink some good coffee and eat some cake! The most popular thing to do for young working people, especially ladies, is to go out with a friend to get a "cake set" which is usually around $12 and you get your choice of coffee and cake. Yuki and I have been to quite a few together and we're on a mission to rate them according to the quality of food and atmosphere haha!
Both of us had to head off to another event so we parted ways around 5pm! I got on the train back to Kashiwa area because...
I had dinner at my coworker, Yoshida's, house! He is the tennis coach at school and history teacher. He recently got married and wanted us to come over and hang out with his wife. How sweet!! They made us the most incredible food and served us really delicious sangria.
They kept bringing out these amazing dishes and I really felt like I was at a restaurant. Epic Japanese hospitality per usual!
They are a super chill and friendly couple...and I mean look at that pasta! legit.
They invited a few of their friends and we all hit it off sharing dessert and talking about our travels and hobbies. More new people yay!!
phew. well folks, another weekend in the books and only a few more sleeps before I'm back home for the holidays! This has been a whirlwind of a season for me and being able to go home for a while will be really good for my soul. This season was marked by a lot of new faces, dinner parties, late nights, early mornings, big events, fantastic highs, and troublesome lows. I have learned so many things just by going through these experiences and am currently in the process of reflecting more deeply on how I've grown. But, save that for another day. Time to post this and then eat some cereal!