Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wadakura Fountain Park & the Imperial Palace / 和田蔵噴水公園と皇居

And our walk continues from the Shin Marunouchi Building to the Wadakura Fountain Park and the Imperial Palace. It was still hot and humid and I thought the fountain would make us cooler - it didn't. But enjoy these pictures and short video clip.


Mikako appears briefly at near the end of the clip.

The Imperial Palace surroundings

One of Japan's top tourist spots - the bridge that leads to the Imperial Castle. You can find postcards of the bridge all over the place.

Main gate to the Imperial Palace. If I remember right, it's opened to the public on New Year's Day and on the Emperor's Birthday.

Mikako is actually featured in this picture. She's sitting in front of all those trees.

And before heading home, I took a picture of the Tokyo Tower.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tokyo Station and the Shin Marunouchi Building / 東京駅と新丸ビル

After our friend's wedding, Jun stayed with us for one more evening. He was catching the noon train back to Aomori. We saw Jun off at Tokyo station and decided to walk around the station, as it was too hot and humid to go on one of our regular walks. The Shin Maru Building is located close to the station so we thought we do a little window shopping and walk around there as well.


But before I share my walk with you, here is a picture of the Hayate Super Express for any of you train buffs out there and a picture of me and Mikako with Jun.


Jun's train to Hachinohe and back to Aomori.

Inside Tokyo Station, my brother will be happy to know there is still an Ultraman shop. There is also shops for the popular television networks where you can buy character goods from the different shows. There is a store selling Studio Ghibli products. There is the Tomika store which specializes in mini cars. There was also an Avex label store (popular label for J-Pop artists) where they had outfits of the different artists on display (but taking pictures of the outfits wasn't allowed.)

僕の兄貴が喜ぶ事に東京駅の中にウルトラマンの専門店がある。キャラクタ・ストリートにテレビ局の店もありまして:NHK, TBS, 日テレ、テレ朝、テレビ局の番組のグッズをいっぱい販売してます。他にトミカの店もあったし、Avexレーベルの店もありました。Avexの店に所属されてるアーティストの衣装が展示されてました、Boa, Hitomi, 浜崎あゆみ、等。でも衣装の写真撮影はNGでした。

I had to take pictures of Ultra Seven and Ultraman:

Ultra Seven


Tokyo Station

The Shin Maru Building / 新丸ビル

Inside the Shin Marunouchi Building are shops, shops, and more shops, from the basement to the 6th floor. The floors above that are office space. The dessert shops looked pretty enticing as well as the bread buffet shop. Floors 6 and 7 are full of restaurants. The picture of the spareribs on a menu for a restaurant called "So Tired" looked so appetizing we decided to give it a taste. Unfortunately, the restaurant was only serving items off of their lunch menu and the spare ribs weren't on it. So instead, we split a pepper steak and some shouronpou (Chinese dumpling-like dish).

新丸ビルの中は店がいっぱいです。地下1階から6階まで。その上はオフィスになります。近1階から4階はショッピングゾーン。5階と6階はレストランゾーン。「So Tired」とゆう店のメニューのスペアリブが美味しそうに見えたので、その店に入りました。でもランチメニューのみでスペアリブは載ってませんでした。とりあず美香子と二人でペッパステーキ一つと小籠包を食べました。

After eating, we walked outside and headed towards the Wadakura Fountain Park and the Imperial Palace but I'll save that for another time.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Holy Matrimony (Part 5) Reception after the Reception / 結婚式 (パート5)二次会

With the formalities of the wedding ceremony and the reception being over, next on the agenda is the nijikai. Now, this is what an American would expect at the reception. Very informal, mostly a party for friends without the parents and relatives. Ken and Yukino's nijikai was held at a place called Tamariba in Shinagawa, which started at 7:00pm and lasted for another couple of hours. The bride and groom had another change of clothes, and their was a buffet, a drink bar, and a bingo game. The prizes given away were a gift certificates for Matsuzaka Beef, a voucher for Aesthetics, and gift certificates for a course meal at Ken and Yukino's restaurant, Kitamachi Utou which is located in a place called Ushigome Kagurazaka.


Ken is looking like a gangster in his white suit and shades.

The Big Kiss

The Garter Belt Throwing.

To Ken and Yukino - we wish you a long and happy marriage.


Short break from wedding posts / 結婚式のポストから一旦休憩

Another interesting drink that my father would probably enjoy. It was quite tasty by the way.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Holy Matrimony (Part 4) Reception Con't / 結婚式 (パート4) 披露宴のつづき

Ken and Yukino

In the back (Left to Right) : Me, Tetsu, Gu-san. Front (L to R) : Nakamoto and Ken

From the left: Tetsu, Nakamoto, 21ban, Me, Mikako with Ken sitting.

Me, Nori, Mikako, and Ken

And a couple more differences between an Occidental style Japanese wedding and an American wedding. I already mentioned the cutting of the cake to be different. Other differences are some of the formalities associated with a traditional Japanese wedding. The wedding toast is the same but there is the oiro-naoshi (directly translates to "change of color" meaning a change of clothes), There is a yujin-daihyo aisastsu from a good friend (this would be like the Best Man's speech), a few words from work colleagues, a few skits from family and friends, and finally the bride will read a letter of appreciation to her parents (I can't imagine any of my American friends doing that!).


The re-entrance to the reception hall after the iro-naoshi.

The new bride and groom would greet each table before heading back to the main table.

The Wedding Toast

The re-entrance of the bride and groom after the iro-naoshi.

Ken and Yukino's former co-workers.

Ken's nieces performing the Nebuta Music of Aomori

Yukio and friend performing the "jump dance" of Aomori's Nebuta Festival

I tried posting Yukio's speech, but it appears the video clip was too long and kept causing an error on this blog so I unfortunately for Yukio, he will not be able to see himself giving his speech (on this blog anyway).


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Holy Matrimony (Part 3) Reception Dinner / 結婚式 (パート3)披露宴の食事

Isn't the menu cute. I will try to translate the actual menu as best as I can. We were served an eleven course meal (don't be surprised), as we were served a one dish at a time.


Tofu made with broad beans with citron miso, shrimp, salmon (the rose in the middle), and seasonal vegetables.

A light soup, with crab, shimeji mushrooms, and a bit of melon.

Sashimi of maguro, sea bream, and shrimp

Hiryuzu or hirosu which is tofu made with various ingredients and fried in oil, shrimp, okra, octopus, and shark fin.

Select beef with miso sauce.

Wild duck with green tea soba.

Grilled king crab, Japanese honeywort with chestnuts and ginger.

Rice cooked with scallops with miso soup and assorted pickles.
And finally, my father's favorite - a dessert buffet. Here were a few of the dishes available.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Holy Matrimony (Part 2) The Reception / 結婚式 (パート2)披露宴

The reception was also held at Happo-En. Here is where you really see the difference between an Occidental style Japanese wedding and a real American wedding reception. I know most of my friends back in the States would associate reception with party and free booze. Although the flow of alcohol is the same, there is definitely no party atmosphere. In Japan, there will be an emcee to host the reception (no, I'm not kidding!). Family and friends will be seated at the table before the bride and groom enter. But before that, there was another photo opportunity for everybody.


Once everyone is settled at their assigned tables, the emcee will announce the bride and groom's entrance. They will be led to the main table and the groom will give a short annoucement thanking everyone for coming to celebrate their wedding. But I just had to share with you the my place setting card.


Oops, my name was spelled wrong at a different wedding as well.


Check out the wedding cake, it's huge!


Here we find the emcee introducing the newlyweds.

This is Ken giving his welcoming speech.

Next we have a picture of Ken and Yukino cutting into their wedding cake.


Another difference is the cutting of the wedding cake. As you can see, this is mostly done as a formality and the cake is not eaten. And this is before the reception meal is served. In the States, we would have the meal followed by the cutting of the wedding cake. Aren't these little details interesting? I cannot guarantee if all Occidental style weddings are like this though.


If you're wondering why Ken is laughing near the end of this clip, his friend Yukio was standing near and showing Ken and his new bride a picture of Ken from his junior high school yearbook that he has uploaded into his cell phone.


The wedding posts will continue. Next, everyone's favorite - the meal.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Holy Matrimony (Part 1) / 友達の結婚式 (パート1)

This is our friend Ken with his new bride Yuki-chan (and yes, I have his permission to post pictures of their wedding that I took.) I've known Ken for a few years but little did I know that he was also one of Mikako's childhood friends. They've known each other since the fourth grade. Ken is also good friends with Jun who is married to Mikako's sister which makes Jun my brother-in-law. Jun came to Tokyo from Aomori for Ken's wedding and stayed at our apartment for two nights.


The wedding was held at a place called Happo-En in Meguro. I learned that this place is quite popular for weddings and also saw that along with Ken and Yuki, there was about 25 other couples tying the knot on this particular Sunday. The service was to start at 11:00am in the Garden Chapel. We were meeting some friends at 9:30 and was at the wedding hall an hour early. Just before 11:00am, we were led to the Garden Chapel. Ken and Yuki's wedding was not the traditional Japanese wedding you may imagine as Yuki was dressed in a beautiful white wedding gown (and not a kimono). Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside the chapel. However, this being Japan, there is a time and place for everything, including taking pictures of the bride and groom.


The ceremony started off with a Prelud, followed by the Wedding Processional. Next, Hymn 312 was sung (in Japanese of course) "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilige to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." The priest then said a prayer from Numbers 6:24-26 "The LORD bless you and keep youy; the LORD make his face shine upon you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."

This was followed by a Message, then the Exchange of Vows, the Declaration of Marriage, the Benediction, and the Recessional.

式の順番は奏楽、入場、賛美歌 (312番一同)「いつくしみ深き。。。」から始まるやつ。、聖書朗読、祈り (旧約聖書 民数記 6章 24節‐26節)、式辞、誓約、宣言、祝祷、退場。

The following pictures are of the Recessional and a photo opportunity for everybody.


And a picture of our little gang with Ken and Yukino.


The reception will continue on the next post.