Japan ~~My Years as a Guest There part 3

In parts one and two of this story you find out that:

In March of 1973, my husband was sent to Japan on a four year tour of duty as part of his Air Force military service. He preceded my baby daughter and me by two months, leaving us Stateside until he had secured housing for us.

In May, our baby and I made the somewhat event-filled trip across the Pacific to be reunited with Daddy and husband and begin to experience a whole new world

(Sadly most of the photos from Japan suffered water damage while in storage.)

Home-away-from-home land




One of the ways we found that we could get to know our hosts in Japan was through going onto the economy, discovering the way of life, and enjoying the food. Here in our country one thing we do to entertain and relax and enjoy the company of others is often centered around a meal.

We found the same was true in Japan. Whether we were invited to a wedding to celebrate the union of two souls in marriage, enjoying the hospitality of a family, or dining in a noodle shop or restaurant, we felt we were absorbing the culture of this new land. We learned the personalities of those of our host country as we watched them at work and at play.Life's journey took us to so many out of the way, undiscovered places where we met and got to know the charming hosts and hostesses of our adopted land.

Life's journey--see Japan through the eyes of a visitor is a way for me to recount the wonders of the days spent there.

Moving into our paddy house our first summer at Tachikawa Air Base.

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When visiting a foreign country, did you pick up little habits that you now use at home?

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Out of the back gate

Settled in a new home, making friends, and learning my away around the base was just a bit of the newness that greeted me. Soon, I was ready to venture onto the economy just out of the back gate at Tachikawa Air Base.

The summer of '73 was beautiful even when it was raining. I had fallen in love with everything in this new land and was anxious to go off base and explore. Not wanting to wait till the weekend when my husband was not on duty to go off base, I would pack up my baby daughter, her stroller, and catch the bus over to the back gate. I would pop open the stroller and gently place my little girl in it and off we would go.

Down the busy streets the two of us went. Moving slowly, we were both anxious to peek into every shop window, inhale those unbelievable aromas emanating from so many doorways along the way. Side-by-side they were, enticing me to bring my baby, to come, and have a taste

Sharing a few lunch items ---a few of many

No language barrier

Soba noodle shops, so many of them, it was difficult to decide which one to choose. One way to choose was to find one where there was a spot to squeeze on in and sit elbow to elbow with this amazing, gentle Japanese community of humankind.Most of the food shops along this walk that we made through the center of town, were very, very small...usually 6 or 7 stools perched in front of a shiny, wooden counter.

Our food was prepared before our eyes and was served hot and steaming. Slurping was required. No language barrier existed. No words really were necessary. We had gathered there, in that place, for our meal. When the food was served, we all got down to the business of slurping, chewing, and becoming thoroughly hypnotized by the whole experience. I never left one of those noodle shops without being totally satisfied in my belly and in my soul.

.Relish each morsel...Japanese comfort foods

Sadly I do not recall the 'real' name for many of the dishes. But I do remember the way they tasted. There are very few places Stateside where I have found preparation of Japanese food to compare to the authentic creations we experienced.The succulent enormous delicate tempura placed like a crown, atop freshly sliced vegetables, swimming around in steaming, flavor-filled broth was perfection each time we had it. Bowls of rice sometimes topped off with a fried pork cutlet and maybe some broth tucked underneath it all, wrapped up with the rice, a little surprise, like its cousin the prawn dish, made our mouths water as we waited to be served. Steamed rice or fried rice was always plentiful at our meals. Oyako donburi and suyiyaki were also dishes that never disappointed us either.

Cooking on Our Hibachi

The diversity in flavors and textures was one of the reasons we looked forward so much to our trips to Tachi for window shopping and to feed ourselves.

One of our favorite meals for dinner on a Friday night was known as Korean Barbecue. It was the style of cooking. It was a treat every time we went there. Our baby girl really enjoyed it. We sat on the floor around a hibachi. Our meat was brought to us, chicken or beef, or chicken and beef, and our vegetables. What made the dish THE DISH was the barbecue sauce which is unlike what we know as barbecue sauce.

It was such fun because we cooked our own food. Clumsily at first, we used hashi, chopsticks, to move our food from plate to hibachi. As time passed, we became quite adept with our hashi and enjoyed even more this experience.

Wedding Ceremony

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Japanese wedding

We were fortunate to be invited to a Japanese wedding. We had met the art teacher at the school where I would be teaching that fall. She had adopted me and my daughter so to speak and spent much of that first summer introducing me to the culture of Japan that I am sure I would not have learned had I not known her.

About midway through the summer, she invited us to the wedding of her friend's child and bride to be. It was an experience that we felt honored to have been a part of. The actual ceremony took place in a small room, about 6 feet by 6 feet. There were about 25 of us, maybe a few more, crowded together. We stood for the ceremony which, now as I look back, did not seem to be very long. We felt somewhat privileged because only a few of us who were special guests were allowed to go into this private room which was closed off from everyone else.

After the ceremony, we were ushered into a large banquet style room not unlike a room that might be used for a reception in America. There was a stage at one end and a series of tables were placed there end to end, covered with table cloths, and laden with flowers. This was where the bridal party sat. The rest of us were seated at the many tables that had been set up for guests. There were over five hundred in the reception hall.

The young bride came out first in the wedding kimono she had worn to be wed. Then she changed into a western gown, floor length, brilliant white, elegant, and fit for the petite frame that wore it. The gasps of admiration could be heard as she entered the room and then erupted in applause.She left once again and returned in a light pink dress with a bolero type jacket. This was the clothing she would be wearing for her honeymoon which would be in the Hawaiian islands.

We were told that the number of times the bride changed clothes was indicative of the wealth of the family. Truthfully I never tried to verify that. It had been such a glorious experience that something of that nature really was unimportant to me.

Down in Tachikawa....getting to know the people and the culture

Source

More about our Japanese experience

Japan through the eyes of a visitor part 1

http://pstraubie48.hubpages.com/hub/Japan-Through-the-Eyes-of-a-Visitor

Japan through the eyes of a visitor part 2

http://pstraubie48.hubpages.com/hub/Japan-Through-the-Eyes-of-a-Visitor-part-2

Japan through the eyes of a visitor part 4



Discovering the new land

When I was not with my new Japanese friend, my baby girl and I would set off through the back gates of Tachikawa Air Base and into the new land.

Most of the food shops along this walk that we made through the center of town, were very, very small Usually.usually 6 or 7 stools perched in front of a shiny, wooden counter, tiny fabric curtains just above the entryway, welcoming us to come dine.

Even though I had not been away from home the States but for a matter of weeks, I was pleasantly surprised to find a McDonald's, right there in Tachi City! And, even though we did not eat there except on rare occasions at home, here it was, something very familiar. This early in my stay I had not become immersed in all things I would grow to love about our home away from homeland.

One evening, my husband, baby, and I had to go there. We went once. The burgers were mainly soy which I know are touted as being very healthy. However, that was not the flavor we had expected in our Mickey Dee burger. The rest of the time we lived on the island, when we ate off base, we ate the food of Japan.Somewhat abashedly I admit, we ate off base at least 4 times a week. I might add it was generally not expensive.

A markerTachikawa Japan -
Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
[get directions]

This is the location of the city we spent hours in our first summer in Japan, 1973.

They say 'the secret's in the sauce'

The sauce was a combination of: soy sauce, sesame oil, and a splash of honey, and the mystical nectar, sake. Toss in some finely minced garlic, black pepper, and sesame seeds, stir gently. What you have created will somewhat resemble what they created then and certainly still do today. This sauce created ambrosia on our palates.Our beef or chicken had been marinated in it and we were given bowls of it to dip our grilled portion in as it came off our hibachi.

And, a large bib, which could easily be described as an apron, was put on each of us. It protected our clothing from the splattering juices that occurred as the meat sizzled on the hibachi.

Dining out was always a lovely experience...

The diversity in flavors and textures was one of the reasons we looked forward so much to our trips to Tachi for window shopping and to feed ourselves.

One of our favorite meals for dinner on a Friday night was known as Korean Barbecue. It was the style of cooking. It was a treat every time we went there. Our baby girl really enjoyed it. We sat on the floor around a hibachi. Our meat was brought to us, chicken or beef, or chicken and beef, and our vegetables. What made the dish THE DISH was the barbecue sauce which is unlike what we know as barbecue sauce.

It was such fun because we cooked our own food. Clumsily at first, we used hashi, chopsticks, to move our food from plate to hibachi. As time passed, we became quite adept with our hashi and enjoyed even more this experience

A conflict of beliefs

Could that sauce be a metaphor for our immersion into the land of the rising sun? A coming together of those who were natives to their homeland and those who traveled there for work, military service, or to visit caused an unlikely union.. The intermingling of those who met even if ever so briefly brought our understanding of each other if not entirely in focus at least partially. We learned as much about each other as we dared to reveal. How we were alike, how we were different. A peek into each others lives and beliefs, allowed each of us to carry away from the other a new level of knowledge that prior to this was unknown.

Getting to know the people, their way of life, and learning to understand them is what made our experience in Japan an experience that is still fresh and new many years later. Far more than any food we ate was the connection to the lovely, kind, caring natives to this land we were visiting. Troubling to me was what I had been taught as a Christian. That only through believing in Jesus Christ shall we be saved. Most of my Japanese friends were Buddhist. I could not reconcile that the God I believed in and still do to this day would condemn then to eternal separation from Him at their death.

There is still more to share with you in coming days.

copyright 2011-2013 pstraubie48 TM All Rights Reserved

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Comments 9 comments

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 21 months ago from sunny Florida Author

Thanks Peggy I will.

What a wonderful experience visiting and getting to know these precious people was. the food was divine and the wedding was such an event.

Thanks for visiting Angels are on the way to you this evening ps


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Patricia,

Since most of this does not appear on the regular feed, I am following each stage of your journey in order and am really enjoying it. Wish I could smell and taste the delicious foods you are describing. That wedding sounded really interesting!

You might want to take a look at your text which is replicated in a couple places. Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you and sending angels your way.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

shiningirisheyes....writing down the memories, capturing those moments in time on paper, have brought them alive for me. it was indeed a wondrous time of my life. i was so enchanted by this new way of life.

so glad to see you stop by.

ps


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Fantastic follow-up to the awesome journey. By the way, beautiful picture of Mom and baby girl. The Japanese culture has always fascinated me. Steeped in tradition and ceremony dating back thousands of years is enough to appreciate this colorful and ancient culture.

The barbecue sounds like it would be my favorite as well. The soy burgers - not so much.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi travel_man...First thank you for reading the whole series...and you mentioned that it should be a book. You are too KIND. So glad you visited ...come back again soon.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Hi travel_man...First thank you for reading the whole series...and you mentioned that it should be a book. You are too KIND. So glad you visited ...come back again soon.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 4 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

I was also stunned by the food portioning given to me when we ordered SOBA noodles at the local Shabu-Shabu restaurant. The chef even demonstrated how the noodles are made.

Now, you were feeling at home in this episode. Good for you Ma'am and your family. :)


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 4 years ago from sunny Florida Author

Billy, my Friend, you remind me of the spirit of the Anne of Green Gables series of books. It is not just a girlie story. One of the themes is an overriding sense of bosom friends...those who wade through the thick and thin with you and lift you up when you need it.

Although I have been writing for years, this is a whole new style of writing for me so there are times when a bosom friend is needed. Thank you for being one.

Our Japanese experience was a time of discovery and learning. It is a joy to share it. Thank you for your kind words.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I love this series. I love learning about other cultures and you have done as well as anyone in teaching me about Japan through this series. On a side note, your writing is becoming unique; your voice is rising and you are improving before my eyes with each new hub. Excellent work my friend; it is a joy to travel this road with you.

bill

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