Yeah...I haven't posted anything for a while as of late, just because....I haven't. Oops. But anyway! Back to posting, and redeeming myself. ;D
Yesterday afternoon Takeshi and I went over to the Ishii's house for a "Welcome to Japan (for me)" and a "Welcome Back!" (for Takeshi) barbecue party/get-together. The Ishii's have been very good friends of Takeshi's family since he was little, he told me. They have two sons, the younger of which, Junpei, is currently dating Takeshi's sister. Takeshi's best friend is the older son, Ryosuke. Mrs. Ishii had been wanting to pick a day to do it and decided last weekend that yesterday would be the day, rain or shine, since she said we shouldn't put it off anymore. Takeshi and I left the house at around 6pm. Baasan had already been over there - I guess for some mingling with the other ladies and such. Takeshi said that she would be coming back to the house, though, and returning again later with Tousan when he got home from work. Saori would be coming later on at around 7pm, after she returned from school. The Ishii house is about a 5 minute walk down the street from our house, if you walk really slow. The Ishii's own a lot of land, for being in Japan. On their "home turf" they have 3 building all together, situated in the shape of a "U". When you walk into the front yard/parking area, to the left you have the Ishii's old house, where they used to live. As of now, the residents of this house are the Ishii grandparents (who's mother and father, I don't know). To your right is a large shed-like building which hold various yard tools, storage space, and chopped pieces of wood. And at the back, to your front is the new house that the Ishii's had built. This house is a very western-looking house. It is built totally out of wood (which I've been told they had imported out-of-country = expensive). This house looks like it was taken right out of mountain country, in the States. I always think "log cabin" when I see it.
When we arrived, we were led around to the back of the house to the back deck, where they had set up a table with chairs and various other barbecue items. At the back of the deck, Mr, Ishii was already starting to grill groups of sliced onions, slices of beef, eggplant, and sausages. At the front gate we stopped to say hello to Nana, the family's dog of 3 years, who is a Bernese Mountain Dog. Nana is very friendly with everyone she meets so Takeshi and I always make sure to spoil her and give her lots of belly rubs and pets when we come over. :) Mr Ishii was grilling all of the food in a certain way that I've seen other Japanese family's do it - he takes a small, thick pot filled with active coals, places a sheet of metal over it, and then places the meat on top of that. They had about three of these little "grilling stations" on the deck behind the table. I had never really officially met Mr. Ishii before then, since (like every other Japanese father) he had always still been at work when I had visited the house. So I took this chance to say hi to him and to properly say "Hajimemashite onegaishimasu" ("Nice to meet you.") to him. He seemed like a very nice, laid-back guy. The whole Ishii family is very down-to-earth, friendly, and easy going - even more so than my in-laws, I think. Mrs. Ishii has got to be one of the most energetic women I've ever met. One time when we arrived at the house to visit, she came down from the front porch and leaped right up to me to utter a big "KONNICHIWA LORA!" Other people would think she's a bit weird, but I actually really like it, since she's able to not be so shy around a foreigner and say hi to me.
Mrs. Ishii's friend was there as well with us. I've met her before a couple of times, but Takeshi and I still don't know her first name. Later on, Mrs. Ishii and her went to get her husband from work, and he helped Mr. Ishii grill for a while, near the end of the barbecue. Only after about an hour of being there, we could start to feel tiny raindrops hitting us, so we decided to pick up everything and take it inside the house for the rest of the night. Mr Ishii would stay outside to grill food, and we would bring it in inside. I felt bad for him, but fortunately it actually did not rain for the rest of the night. And also, as the night went on, they moved all the "grill stations" to the side of the house (since they had a wrap-around porch), and then the grilling was going on right outside of the sliding storm door, which was conveniently located next to the dining table.
The Ishii's house was FILLED with stuff. This is usual of many (maybe all...) Japanese homes. I thought OUR house had a lot of stuff until I saw their house. I can definitely see the Japanese custom of surrendering to materialism. Half of the dining room table was being swallowed up by a pile of "nothing-stuffs". I call it stuff because there's no way to categorize all of it. It's all of the things you see in a store of kind and say "Wow, that has almost no use to it." I could sense that somewhere in the mountains of items, the Ishii's were trying to organize it. It wasn't working very well.
By about 8:30pm, everyone had arrived and assembled at the house, and everyone was talking, eating, or playing with Nana (*AHEM* Takeshi *cough*) For the first time since arriving here in Japan, I felt a small sense of "family" and "friends", there with the Ishii's and my in-laws. And at the same time I felt very alone, since my own family and friends were not there to celebrate and visit with me on my recent, and various accomplishments and life-changes.
At several times during the night I would surprise the people there by how much Japanese I knew. At one point, I sat inside with Tousan, Mr. and Mrs. Ishii, and her friend, and talked about what I liked to eat. They wanted to know if I liked sashimi, or was ok with it. Little did they know, that I've liked sushi and sashimi for a long time before that. :) When Mrs. Ishii and her friend came back from picking up her friend's husband, they presented us "kids" with a small pack of fireworks.
After a while he took them outside in front of the old Ishii house and waved them about, drew with them in the air, and stared at them until they expired. Emerald greens, fiery reds, and white sparks in the night. Overall, a very good night.