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Turning 21 in Japan

Posted by Shaun

Warning you all, things are going to be really out of order here in the next few posts because I'm going to blog about what I feel like while I feel like it.

I'm sorry I haven't had a lot I want to blog about lately. I've been busy with school starting up again and I've been wanting to read my Japanese books instead of squirrel around on the computer in English. Because suddenly it's May and I only have 3 months of Japan left and I don't know when or if I'll be coming back.

So forgive me for being out of touch with America and the internet for a while.

I'm currently enjoying my Golden Week break from school. Golden Week is a series of national holidays in late April and early May which means lots of free time. My birthday happened to fall on the Showa Emperor's birthday so even though I didn't exactly take advantage of it, I had a whole national holiday at my disposal when I turned 21.

So, on my 21st birthday I slept till 11am and then cleaned my room and wrote a short essay about marriage for my Japanese class. And then I went to dinner with my host family. It was awkward because my host brother and oldest host sister are apparently in such a big fight right now that they can't stand to look at each other but they both wanted to go. And I ate way too much but drank no alcohol and ended up going to sleep at 10:30 because I had a headache.

But my host family gave me a hanko name stamp for my birthday! If I were to live in Japan I could probably get it registered and use it for official purposes like signing things but for now it's just fun to stamp random things, even though I have yet to figure out how to make it look good.

Hanko case

The stamp and stamp pad part

Test stamping in my planner. It says my name in katakana written from top to bottom.
The day before my birthday, my oldest host sister invited me to go out to dinner with her and a friend of her's, so we went to this place in Shibuya called the Garden Farm and had cheese fondue in this classy little restaurant where each party was seated in their own individual rooms (Is there a word for this in English? In Japanese it's 個室...). Since it was my birthday the next day, we all got a free cake.

The courses are out of order, but:

Steamed pork and stuff (the steam got in the way of the picture)

Cheese fondue and veggies and bread

My cake!

Arisa and me and the cake

I forgot what this was called.

First course: ebi sembei, edamame, and some sweet nuts

It was tasty and I appreciated that Arisa wanted to hang out with me. So that was my 2nd birthday party. No one sang happy birthday to me in Japan though... my parents and my little sister were sweet enough to record themselves singing to me and my grandparents wrote the lyrics in an email, and okay, I'm lying, everyone in Japan Study sang to me during our Minakami retreat (more on that eventually) but no one sang on my birthday.

So my 21st birthday wasn't wild and crazy, but wild and crazy isn't really me anyway. Plus all the people I want to drink with are back at Knox. So look out, Galesburg. I might go to McGillacuddys and have one cocktail during Jazz Night or something.

There was one sorta crazy thing I did though, the Friday before my birthday. I made a reservation at a butler cafe. Specifically, Swallowtail in Ikebukuro.
More on that in the next post.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like you had a really interesting Birthday! Homework, Sushi, fondue, cake, kareoke, mountain climbing, siblings fighting...

    Didn't the Swallowtail remind you of meals at home with the family?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a fun birthday (except for the head-ache) ...lots of food shared with family and friends, lots of people singing Happy Birthday, family squabbles that stop long enough to pay attention to the birthday girl, cool gifts and school.

    sounds like fun to me! :)

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