Published: October 2nd 2005October 2nd 2005
Pouring oil onto the hot plate to make our okonomiyaki.
Alright, this entry is about a big dinner with all of the IES studenst in Ginza and then another trip to Ginza when we saw Kabuki theater (seperate from the dinner outing). It is a bit dated (as we went about three weeks ago), but the place we went to dinner at is super cool, the Kabuki theater was a really different experience and I have lots of pictures for both.
So at the end of orientation week, the IES staff took us out to eat in Ginza, one of the biggest sub-centers of the city. Basically this event was to "welcome" us to Japan and at the same time give us a sampling of how to navigate the train system. It was the first time I had been into metropolitan Tokyo and it was really exciting.
There was a huge group of us, all 64 people went, and somehow in the shuffle we lost one girl! She has kind of become known as a very flighty person, so looking back, it was pretty fitting that she would get lost on the first time into the city. But we all were very worried and we kept thinking how scary it would
Bowl of Ingredients
Fish, octopus, fish eggs, pieces of mystery animal... I have learned to not question what I put into my mouth.
be to be in her shoes. She eventually found the restaurant but had to pay some outrageous price for a taxi.
I sat with Katherine, Jodie, Alberto, Dietrich, and Joe at the restaurant. The type of food was "Okonomiyaki" which is basically like a pancake-like stuff that you cook at the table. The waiters gave us big bowls of ingredients (seafood pieces, vegetables) mixed in with a sort of batter (water and flour perhaps?) and then we kind of cooked our own food. My favorite kind was this bowl of cheese and cabbage. We had a big flat hot pan in the middle of the table and it was such a hands-on experience! There was a lot of greasy smoke and for a few weeks after the dinner my backpack smelled like the smoke. Ugh. We each had our own tiny little spatula with which we could cook the pancakes and then serve them to our little plates. Some of the e-pals (the Japanese students) came with us, so they showed us the ropes. Again, I have a video of the process, but I haven't found a way to attach movies to this journal.
Ok, and then the other
Help from the Epals
Here's a picture of one of the epals helping us to make our meal.
time I went into Ginza was with a smaller group of people. We went after class one afternoon to see a traditional Kabuki play. This type of theater dates way back to the Edo period (I think) and it is performed almost exactly like it was done hundreds of years go. All of the actors are male. There are very special costumes and exaggerated movements which are characteristic of Kabuki theater. We went to a pretty famous play and so many members of the audience were familiar with the script and would call out at certain points during the show. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the theater, but here is a website which has some more information and photographs: http://www.fix.co.jp/kabuki/kabuki.html
We got really cheap tickets (about $8) for one act in the standing-room only section. The act was almost an hour and a half, so we definitely got our fix of Kabuki. The actors speak their lines in a very whiney and sometimes growling tone of voice, it reminded me of Chinese opera that my grandpa used to listen to. Some of the people in our group got an English guide, but the rest of us were kind
Dietrich the Chef
Here is Dietrich taking charge, although everyone definitely got to do a lot of cooking.
of oblivious to the story-line. Even the kids who were really good at Japanese (we went with one guy who lived in the country for a year and is basically fluent) said that because of the tone of voice and the somewhat archaic quality of the language it was nearly impossible to understand. However, we were able to figure out the story-line somewhat. Unfortunately I have since forgotten, and as I try to recall right now I'm coming up with only a fragmented version. Oh well. There are parts of the play where they play music and sing and dance. Someone told me that Kabuki theater is losing popularity here in Japan, so they are trying to revive the old spirit by hosting workshops for people. You can learn how to wear a kimono and put on make-up, etc.
After the play, we all decided to walk around Ginza for awhile. It is a really really modern and built-up part of Tokyo. There are enormous buildings, and it really does make me think of the future. Some of the architecture and infrastructure looks like it belongs in one of those movies where they drive hovercrafts all over the place and
Jodie, Katherine, and I at our table. Jodie and Katherine are vegetarians, so this meal wasn't quite as exciting for them.
wear space-suits and stuff. I was really blown away. There was one building which had the support system on the outside of the building... it was like a giant and new-age cathedral in a way, with enormous flying-butresses. We wanted to get into the top of one of the buildings for the view, but we were told (by numerous police and security guards) that they were not open to the public. I may have already written this, but we were on one of the elevated sidewalks and we found some tiny little kittens living in the bushes. This may not seem surprising, but this is by far one of the most metropolitan and corporate areas of Tokyo, so seeing a litter of cats on a 3 story-high sidewalk was kind of surprising. We also saw a capsul hotel which I think I have a photograph of.
Alright, so there aren't as many details in this entry as my memory has failed me. But I guess that will teach me to update more promptly. Hope all is well for everyone in at home and that you all had a lovely weekend. Take care. ~M
There are more photos below