Thursday, August 16, 2012

Obon Happened.

As it does.

A major family holiday in Japan, and I never plan a single thing. Or rather, I've learned to not plan a single thing, and wait for the inevitable phone call from MIL.

So Monday was the main family dinner, and we did get a few days warning about that one actually, she told us on Friday. We spent the morning cleaning up, trying to get through the mountain of laundry after the weekend! Fail.

We went round to Aunty's house at about 5, her daughter is back in town for the holiday and my girls like to play with her. Nothing much for me to do except fiddle with my phone and read a magazine. Kanji came at about 7, and we waited around for Jiichan and Baachan, who were late and arrived closer to 8. The kids were getting SO hungry, but we all had to pile back into the cars first and go pay our respects at the family grave, carrying back lit incense in the car to put on the family altar.

Then the eating could begin! We had a mixed feast of sushi, pizza, chawan mushy (savory custard), clear soup, onigiri, chips, renkon (lotus root) salad, gobo (burdock root) salad, potato salad, and tomatoes. And no-alcohol beer. I know some bloggy/facebook friends moan about obon spent with families who sit around and drink all day - I'm kind of jealous! Everyone in our family still works - the Stands are not closed during the busiest days of the year - and everyone's driving, so no-one drinks at all! Aunty used to provide beer, but stopped bothering a few years ago, now she gets non alcohol beer and we all politely drink that for 'cheers' then move on to our favorite soft drink. The whole thing is over in 3-4 hours.

Finally Kanji's sister came round with her two kids, though not until after a bit of phone wrangling by him and MIL. They brought donuts, which we hardly needed, though the kids ate anyway. At some point we agreed to go with Baachan to her family home in the mountains the next day, so after another slow morning making a very small dent in that laundry pile.

Then Mr. Wada phoned again, and we arranged the next modeling session for 5pm the next day. Then Kanji turned up just as we were leaving to ask us if we could go to the Okidai Bon Dancing event that night. See how stuff just happens?

The trip out to Yabakei was interesting, seeing all the flood damage. Part of the road washed away, and we had to take a detour. Most of it was cleaned up, but you could the houses that had been inundated, with a too-clean outdoor area in a mud-wash color. We didn't stay long, just long enough to scoff the proffered grapes and pears, and play with their new long-haired chihuahua puppy.

I think I'll do another post with photos for the Bon Dancing. Different... it's gone from a nice little summer party and barbecue with friends, during the middle of which the kids dress in their yukatas and pop off to the festival, to just our two families this year, or rather just me and the other Dad, and some bentos! The Mum recently took over a restaurant, and was working her butt off there, so no party, but the girls all wanted to get together and go to the dancing anyway. Amy and Lena stayed the night.

After beers at the 'party' and a nightcap or three, I was feeling pretty shattered on Wednesday morning, so when Kanji called to say that another friend wanted to go to the pool,  I declined. Not with Amy working (doing some lunch-time shifts at the friend's restaurant) and the modeling at 5pm. I thought that was that, until 2 seconds later I got a call from Amy and Lena to beg! They already knew about the plan, and Amy had been told not to work today. I couldn't say no when all their friends were already set to go. And I couldn't make Erica stay home (she was home with me, but overheard the phone call). And I didn't want her to go without me because she's mental in the water presently - crazy about putting her head under the water continuously, with hardly a break to breathe, so I have to keep an eye on her like a hawk.

So.... off we went to the pool. More photos from that later. It ended when a thunderstorm came over. We are getting one almost every day this summer!

We got back in time for the photographer - a location shoot this time, at a very picturesque cafe right near where I work that I had no idea existed. It was shut for the day, but I could peep at the menus - coffee, ice coffee, toast, cheese toast, aaaah, that's why I've never been there, old fashioned Japanese cafe menus are very uninspiring!

Today, back to work! The other day when I mentioned going to the beach this Friday, Lena actually stomped her feet and complained! "When will I ever get my homework done!" But then when she's home she just plays with Erica or swans around, helps with laundry, which she has decided is 'fun', or does sit-ups (I casually mentioned that I could do about 80 at her age, so I think she's been practicing on the sly!)

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