Imohori and Halloween

2 Nov

November 2, 2010

So again, long time, no update.  Sorry!  I wish I had a better excuse like “Oh I’ve been so busy!” but it’s seriously the sixth day of my week-long break from school, I’ve just been spending a large amount of time rolling around in bed and enjoying not riding the train.

Also, a lot has happened.  I think I’d just better sort through my pictures and tackle it chronologically.

On Sunday, October 24th, we piled in the car in the morning and made the drive to Handa.  Where is Handa, you ask?  Honestly I have no clue.  It’s a tiny countryside farming community that I gather is about 45 minutes from the Nagoya station and about an hour and a half/hour and 45 minutes from Ichinomiya.  Anyway, Handa is where Ken (my host father)’s family is from so we visited with his mom and older brother and dug up all kinds of wonderful things from the farm.  The main event of the day was “imohori” or potato-digging (which is a very “it’s fall!!” thing to do, apparently), but we were early so we tinkered around various parts of their lot and the neighbor’s lots picking many other things, including ginger, taro (satoimo), eggplants, beans, and goya (if you don’t know what goya is, looking up a translation is not incredibly helpful as I had no idea what “spongey melon” is either – basically it’s a long, green, incredibly healthy but incredibly foul-tasting vegetable). 


So by 11 in the morning I had filled a basket full of beans and eggplant and was starting in on the taro root and was having pretty much the most fun I’ve had since coming to Japan.  I felt very at home and accepted and welcome.  Plus I really enjoy the way old farm ladies talk, because if a girl spoke the same way in a major city it would be shocking and unacceptable, so everytime Ken’s mom ended a question with “kai?” I had to supress a giggle.  (This was very often.)

One of Ken’s old classmates (or possibly someone he doesn’t know at all that qualifies as “classmate” because they were in the same grade – the word is a little ambiguous) and his kids showed up and so we headed for the satsumaimo (sweet potatoes) for our imohori.  This was also awesome.  I wandered off with Ken’s mom to look for chestnuts and only found a few before decide that rubber boots would have been a better choice of footwear and heading back.  (They are kind of stabby.  You can’t pick them up, you have to find slightly open shells and pry them open with your feet and then carefully pull the nut open without touching the shell.  My “breathable” sneakers in this case meant they were in fact “ow, stop doing that” shoes.)

Me and Miyabi showing off our sweet potatoes.

After everyone had dug up giant cases full of potatoes, the older ladies (Ken’s mom, a neighbor I think, and someone’s sister although honestly I didn’t understand) wrapped some up in tin foil and newspaper and buried them in the pit they had had a fire in earlier – the glowing coals roasted the potatoes and we sat around and had a picnic.

SO MANY POTATOES. (This isn’t all of them.)

Picnic time!

After that the kids and Ken headed for the park and the rest of us went off to harvest azuki (the Japanese redbean responsible for most of Japan’s delicious candy), which was super cool.  I guess even in Japan it is becoming more and more rare for individual farmers to grow azuki – even Yuko hadn’t ever actually seen it growing before.


Then we had a lovely, I suppose, dinner with Ken’s parents and older brother.  I say “suppose” because, as much fun as I had had,  I had been bent over in various positions enthusiastically working my butt off on a farm all day, and my strongest impression of dinner that night was concentrating very very hard on not falling asleep into my food.  Miyabi took a bath there and got in her jammies for the ride home.  I fell asleep about 10 minutes after getting in the car too…

Monday started out like a very normal, slightly grumpy day at school, and continued that way until I was two blocks from home on my bicycle.  And then I spent 40 minutes with policemen, oho ahaha!  They were doing a routine patrol checking bicycle registrations, because theft has been on the rise in Ichinomiya lately.  This would have been totally cool, if any of the information I had on my host family’s name, address, et cetera, had been correct on the registration…  Thankfully, I was only two blocks from home! so the lovely gentlemen walked with me the rest of the way home and I called Yuko from the back gate and had her come out and negotiate with them for me.  The problem:  The bike was registered possibly as long as 20 years ago, in a different city, under her maiden name…  But it was entertaining conversation for the rest of the night.  Notable laughing points:  The very first question they asked after stopping me was if I had my alien registration card, and let other people go by while I was stopped, so I got to joke about how no one at home would believe you could experience racial profiling against a white American (I was in a good mood – one of those “laugh or cry, so laugh!” moments – or else these jokes would have gotten bitter rather quickly).  Also, since there was a problem, at one point I had as many as five Japanese policemen gathered around me giving me quizzical stares and asking me questions.  I did hilarious impressions of me being impressed and terrified and speaking shaky broken Japanese for Yuko.  I have also told pretty much anyone I talk to at school about this at least twice.

And then I had a fairly normal week at school, except that on Friday the school festival started, so there are no classes until next Thursday.

So on Friday, October 29, I dragged Sarah all around Sakae (shopping district in Nagoya) and Osu (slightly less crazy shop district) and accomplished many more Christmas presents, including some Chunichi Dragons gear.  The Chunichi Dragons is Nagoya’s baseball team and they’re kind of kicking butt this year.  The shop was in a giant mall directly across from the Nagoya Dome and sold pretty much exclusively Dragons stuff.  I dropped a load of cash there, but I will also go back and get more if they win the Japan series (game 2 of 7 was this week!).

We also ate at Subway, which is really, really different than American Subways.  I mean, they are basically the same in concept, in that you can get a sandwich, but other than that…  You can get a melon soda float (which Sarah got) or oolong tea (which I got), they only have three kinds of bread, you can get egg or shrimp on your sandwhich, and the flavor “cajun chicken” which I bought is in fact I believe cajun sausage…  what’s that called?  Rondouille??  Anyway it was definitely not very chicken-like in flavor or texture, but I was okay with that.  Limited selection of veggies, but you can get seasoned fried potato wedges as a side.  It was good, but did not quash my monstrous craving for Subway…

Saturday I was somewhat productive – went out and paid my National Health Insurance bills through February, and on the way home stopped at a little snack stand and had yakisoba for lunch.  She was very friendly and while I was waiting gave me a free taiyaki to snack on – which, um…  yeah, I would suggest ingesting large amounts of them.  I’m not sure why, but taiyaki are fish-shaped spongecake/pancake-like bread filled with anko (sweet azuki bean paste).  And I let the lady at the shop know it was the first time I’d had one and it was delicious, and she chatted to me a little while about what I was doing in Japan.  The food was awesome and she was really friendly – I’m kind of considering making it my “regular” spot for lunch on weekends since I got an obscene amount of food for 350 yen.

That night I went out to a club for the first time since arriving in Japan because they were having a Halloween party, and I am kind of missing crazy American Halloween.  I had the laziest, cheapest costume in the world – I put my hair in two floofy buns and put eyeliner on my face and was either a bear or a koala, even I couldn’t tell.  Anyway, went with a couple of friends and danced like idiots for 3 or 4 hours, had too much to drink (although I was decidedly not any louder or more drunk than the 2-Japanese-people-per-square-foot crowding the club), forced myself through half a plate of curry rice and nearly a full pitcher of water, and rode the second-to-last train home in half-sweated-off make-up.

Sunday was totally wasted in sleeping.  Yesterday – I’m not exactly sure what I did except that absolutely none of it was productive and I didn’t actually bother to brush my hair.  Today is theoretically homework and productivity day, since tomorrow I will be going to the school festival to work at the manga booth.  Off to a good start with the blog…!


2 Responses to “Imohori and Halloween”

  1. Carlene Quirk November 4, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    Wow, sounds like things are getting better! It sounds like the farm was quite interesting, it appears that you are soaking up the experiences and having a much better time lately. It was really good to see the pictures of you and your “family.” We are enjoying reading your interesting blogs. Austin sure does miss you, but he is keeping busy (can you say NFL Football)

    Jeff Q (and Carlene)

  2. Don Kevino November 15, 2010 at 3:48 am #

    Hi Lynn

    Great reading! Great writing style,…….really!!!!

    Don (err,….you know who I am) Kevino

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