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Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 4 - Sunday, November 20

The Loving Day.

Once the negotiations regarding my visit to Japan had reached "done deal" stage, my daughter-in-law told me that I would be participating in a ceremony at the shrine.  I immediately went to the internet to see what I could learn.  I found multiple explanations of  a ceremony called omiya maeiri.  It serves two purposes: to express gratitude to the gods for the safe delivery of the baby, and to receive a blessing for good health (or to ward off evil spirits, depending on which explanation I was reading).   Some descriptions say that it is supposed to be held when the baby is one month old, and is supposed to be his first outing after birth.  (Mothers and babies traditionally stay at home for the first month.)  I assumed that was why we were there, even though my grandson was nearly three months old.  After the ceremony, though, my DIL was looking at the gifts given by the priest and noted a pair of ohashi (chopsticks).  Perhaps there was some confusion because of the age of the baby.  Ohashi is the gift given at a ceremony called okuizome (to start eating) which is usually held around 100 days.

In my continued ignorance, I do not know which ceremony was being performed.  What I will remember is the love of the family surrounding my grandson and the beauty of the shrine and ceremony.

Photographs were not permitted during the ceremony, but afterward we went into the back of the property for formal photographs.  While there I was able to get some pictures of the shrine (above) and the property around it. 

This was a peaceful piece of nature in the city.  After we finished with the portraits, we headed to a place with a different kind of beauty.

My daughter-in-law's mother treated us all to a fabulous formal luncheon at the Hotel Metropolitan in Ikebukuro (in Tokyo).  Our private dining room was not quite ready (we were early) so we hung out in the lobby for a little while.

I was taken by this frieze that soared over an indoor pond.

And by this Christmas tree.

After a short wait we were taken to our luncheon room.


The service was fabulous.  Two young women in traditional kimono brought each dish individually, knelt on the floor to place the dish in front of a guest, then rose again to fetch for the next guest.  I've made that move in kimono before, and I'll tell you what.  Sumo wrestlers got nothing on these women for leg strength.

I can't begin to tell you about the flavors, but the presentation of the meal was so gorgeous I had to take pictures:

Physically and emotionally sated, we returned to the kids' apartment to spend a quiet evening.  They have a good-sized loveseat in the room they are using as a living room, and my son set up his laptop saying, "You can't say you've been to Japan until you've watched a crazy Japanese game show."  We watched this one,

which was certainly no crazier than any handful of American shows.  Near as I could tell, these two contestants were to live for a given period of time (I think DIL said a month) on 1000 yen.  We got to watch them fix their meals and were alternately grossed out by his and left wondering how she survived on hers.  Both contestants had cute personalities, with the girl reminding me of the Morning Musume girlband musicians I had seen pictures of.

Not that I saw a lot of the show.  As I recall, I fell asleep sitting there after not too long a time.

Kind of like I did today while I was grading papers.  I hope I didn't snore.  The kids were in the classroom watching a movie.

That would have been embarrassing.

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