Saturday, December 24, 2011


According to Wikipedia, “a bōnenkai (忘年会, literally "forget the year gathering”) is a Japanese drinking party that takes place at the end of the year, and is generally held among groups of co-workers or friends. The purpose of the party, as its name implies, is to forget the woes and troubles of the past year, and hopefully look to the new year, usually by consumption of large amounts of alcohol. A bōnenkai does not take place on any specific day, but they are usually held in December.”

 Last night I attended my first bonenkai, with Ted’s Aikido dojo group.  He studied Aikido when he lived in Japan before and earned second degree black belt.  He has been attending aikido practices twice a week since he moved to Hokkaido.

The bonenkai was very fun, the food was great, and I enjoyed all of the people who were there. 

An interesting thing about drinking in Japan is that you don’t fill your own glass. The people who sit near you keep an eye on your glass and fill it from the beer pitcher on the table and you do the same for them. There were about 20 courses of different Japanese foods that I don’t know the names of.  The final course was this dessert – strange looking with the green tea sprinkled over the spongy cake, but oishii desu!

Luckily I sat next to Silvia, who speaks English, Japanese, Polish (her first language) and maybe some other languages.  She translated for me as each person spoke and she also told me about her very interesting life. She is sugoi (amazing). 

Ted sat next to Saitou San, who, like Ted, is the double nickle. 

The head sensei, Takeda Sensei, is a woman, 68 years old, who holds a fifth degree black belt! Sugoi desu! 

They all encouraged me to come to aikido with Ted. To be almost seventy and still be able to throw people down on the mat and be thrown down without breaking bones sounds amazing to me. I was thinking about joining aikido last night (after having my beer glass refilled several times) but today, not so much.

I guess I need to join some groups or get a get a job so I can go to some bonenkais next year.

This and That
At the bank and City Hall I noticed there were reading glasses that people can use. The Japanese are so polite, they even have reading glasses for people who forget theirs.

We ate lunch at a restaurant called Victoria (it has a salad bar) one day this week and their menu had daily specials.  Next to the daily special was the day of the week in Japanese and English.  I took photos so I can compare it to the trash sign and figure out what trash is collected on what day!

 When we were walking home, on a side street with no cleared side walk, there was an old man peeing in the snow.  Old men are the same everywhere.

One more thing, we went to City Hall Tuesday and picked up my Alien Card – yes, it’s true I’m officially an alien now.

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