Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pulled From the Pages: Cherry Blossom Time

March 30th

Cherry blossom time!  The air was filled with the fragrance of thousands of blooms.  The trees draped down over the boulevards with their stunning display. One of the most beautiful times to be in Japan. But that’s not what my Japanese friends were excited about. They couldn’t wait for hanamitime to party.

I threw on a sweater and raced out the door to the station and the express train to Shinjuku park. My friends Midori and Keiko were throwing a party under the cherry treesa tradition in Japan. They had slept over night in the park to make sure they reserved the perfect spot. 

Walking through the park filled with over a thousand cherry trees bursting with blossoms, I wondered if I would ever find them. Keiko promised to wear her horrible day-glow orange sweater so I could spot her in the crowd. But after twenty minutes of walking around the grounds, not one day-glow orange sighting. My hopes of a wonderful picnic lunch under the cherry trees grew dim.

My stomach screamed for food and I seriously considered a stop to get something to eat at one of the endless street vendors.  Then I saw the familiar horrible sweater jumping up and down next to a spectacular tree. “Anne, over here.”

Midori sat on a bright blue sheet like most of the other people in the park. The sheet, peppered in blossoms, was covered with small plates of wonderful delicacies. She motioned for me to sit down next to her. “You must be starving.”

“How can you tell?” 

“Because your stomach is talking.”

Keiko sat down next to me. “Your stomach is so loud it’s making the cherry blossoms fall off the tree.”

 The petals trickled down from the branches like rain. But I doubted my hunger had anything to do with it.  “Very funny.” I cruised the various plates laid out in front of me.  “Wow, you guys really went all out.”

 Midori fixed me a plate piled high with shrimp, pickled vegetables and a rice ball. “Only the best food will complement the flowers.”

Keiko held up a bottle of sake. “And drink.”

I noticed an empty bottle next to her foot. “Looks like the party already started.”

She covered her mouth and giggled. “It’s tradition. Plus the flowers look brighter.”

I gave her a smile. “I’ll bet.”

Midori handed me the loaded down plate. “Eat up.”

I didn’t need any prompting. Chopsticks in hand, I quickly downed the entire plate full of food and washed it down with a cup of sake. I rubbed my belly. “Everything was delicious.  What’s for dessert?”

A strong wind whipped through the trees. In no time we were covered with petals. Opening my mouth to speak a clump fell in. I chewed the petals and washed them down with a cup of sake.

I smiled at the girls. “What a novel dessert! Cherry blossoms aren’t just beautiful, they taste good too.“ 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pulled From the Pages: Say What?

March 5th

I’d been in Japan for eight months and still couldn’t get over the amazing ways the Japanese used English. Some people called it Janglish others called it Engrish, but I called it pretty funny. I’d become totally fascinated by the whole phenomenon and turned Janglish hunting into a game with my friend Trish. At least twice a month we headed out onto the streets of Tokyo looking for the funniest Janglish we could find. Our first stop was always the grocery store. New products hit the shelves all the time—perfect for a quick laugh.

“Hey Anne, check this out.” Trish said pointing to an oldie but goody. “You can get your Cock in spicy flavor now.”

I jumped up and down. “Wow, I’m so excited. Let’s pick up a ten pack!”

We moved over to the candy aisle always a good place to score. I noticed a new flavor of one of my favorites. “Look, now you can get your collon in strawberry flavor.”

Trish rubbed her belly. “A strawberry colon is a happy colon.” 
We cruised the aisles looking for more new products. No luck. I turned to Trish. “Let’s head over to Shibuya and see what we can find.”

“Great idea. We always get lucky there.”

Shibuya was the in place in Tokyo to find the latest and greatest in fashion. Janglish T-shirts with the strangest English you could think of lined the store shelves. In fact we got lucky as soon as we hit the train station.

Trish yanked on my sleeve. “Look at the shirt that little girl is wearing.”

The girl looked about eleven and she had on a white T-shirt that said in bold pink letters, “# 1 Pussy Snatch.”

“Wow. If only her Mom knew what the shirt said about her daughter. She probably thinks it means #1 Cutie.”

I knew this from experience. When I asked girls in Japanese what they thought their T-shirt said they always thought it was something kawaii, cute. When I asked a guy wearing a shirt that declared “Hot Bitch”, he thought it meant he was super cool. When I told him what it really said his face turned red.

We headed into the main mall knowing we’d find some Janglish gold. Took all of three seconds before we spied a manikin dressed in a cute red pleated mini skirt and a tight red trimmed tank top smothered in hearts that said, “Love Some Make Friends With Anyone.”  

“Hey Trish, don’t you think the little red hearts are a nice touch?”

She rolled her eyes. “That's a lot of love for one outfit.” Then Trish darted over to a shop filled with skater boy outfits. She pointed to a T-shirt on a manikin in the corner. “I always wanted to date a guy who wore a shirt like that.”

I stuffed back a laugh. “Yeah, I mean being a ‘12” Shit’ is so sexy.”

Trish pulled out her camera. “Check this one out!”

I glanced down at the shirt. “ ‘American Feeling Fanny We Give Good Mind’. Wow that came so close to being a winner.”

Trish held up the shirt and pointed to the word Mind. “They had the location right."