Japanese cultural immersion

The past few days I’ve been immersed in Japanese culture without leaving home.

sushiOn Friday, Mexican and Spanish friends and I made sushi for a birthday celebration. (Birthday girl is absent, busy taking the photo.)  We couldn’t rise to the aesthetic challenge of creating perfectly shaped California rolls, but our stomachs couldn’t tell the difference. Lunch was delicious.

Yesterday, Japanese students in Talk Time, an English conversation class for adults that my friend Linda and I lead, practiced their oral language skills by doing presentations about a craft or skill, and in one case provided instructions and materials for a class activity.

flapping pigeons

Linda and class flapping their paper pigeons

We assigned this homework a month ago, but we became anxious yesterday, when only two students had appeared by the scheduled start time. We wondered if they were absent because they found the assignment intimidating. We were relieved when eventually almost everyone showed up. Time for the demonstrations to begin.

One student taught us an origami lesson, and we all folded sheets of paper into the shape of a pigeon that flaps its wings when you pull its head and tail.

table manners 1We learned about Japanese table manners and table settings. (Soup bowl on the right, rice bowl on the left, and beware of where you set your chopsticks.)

tying obiOne student treated us to a demonstration of how to tie a series of belts (obis) around a yukata (casual-style kimono).

Another, who worked as a dental hygienist in Japan, showed us how to brush our teeth.

toothbrush demo

We learned how to make ornaments (which  also could be Easter eggs) out of embroidery floss, and heard instructions on how to cook pasta al dente in a pressure cooker.embroidery floss balls

As soon as the class ended, Linda and I decided we would assign this homework next year. The presentations were interesting and gave students a chance to show how well they could communicate orally. There was one more tiny reason for our decision:  Those who couldn’t attend dropped off cookies and warm shortbread to make up for their absence.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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