Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kobe: 20-22 March 09

Friday, as you must be aware by now, was the first day of Spring, known here in Japan as Higan and celebrated by all as a national holiday. We took the occasion of a long weekend to pay a visit to Kobe and celebrate Mutsumi's father's birthday. He may be 83, but he's still clear and sprightly.

The weather over Japan for most of the weekend was not very holiday-like, cloudy, windy and wet. Besides stepping out for dinner, we did a little shopping for groceries that you can't find quite so easily in Nepal. Being an old port town, Kobe has for many years had a large foreign population, including a sizeable community of South Asians, who have established a few groceries specializing in food from the subcontinent. We visited one of these on Friday, the Muslim holiday and conveniently located just a block or two from the Kobe Mosque. Quite frankly, I have never seen so many foreigners in one place in Fukuoka. The tiny store was quite literally packed, with more outside waiting to get in. Just to browse the shelves we had to walk in a slow moving line. But that was all part of the fun, checking out selections and taking in the foreign languages.

Most of our time was spent at home, where Mutsumi gave dad an impromptu yoga lesson and where we spent much of the days being entertained by our now one-year old niece, Shiori.

Here you can see her holding her nose, a gesture she has come to associate with the question, Ikutsu? or, How old are you? In her one-year old brain, ikutsu has become mixed up with the word kusai, or smelly.



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