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A Celebration of Me, and Jesus

December 24, 2008

Well, it’s probably just coincidence that our birthdays fall within a couple of weeks of each other. Or maybe not. Then, I’ve got friends with birthdays much closer than that… but that’s surely coincidence. At any rate, a couple of weeks ago, a couple of days after my Big Japanese Test (which I surely failed, by the way), was my birthday.

The day itself was nothing too flash – it was a Tuesday like any other Tuesday, a little colder than most, and I had to go to work. The kids weren’t aware that it was my birthday, although I told them on the day, and got nice little impromptu renditions of Happy Birthday to you, with my two-syllable name pronounced in three full, glorious syllables. One student created a very pretty star-shaped phone strap out of beads for me, which was very nice. At lunch time, the lovely lunchlady decided to give me an absurd meal – a full hot-plate large serving of bibimba, along with a side of stew, salad, and pasta.

After escaping work a little early, I got the pleasure of visiting the Immigration Office to sort out passport issues, resulting in a shiny new passport complete with Visa requirements met, and then it was time to meet up with a girl I have been seeing lately, in time for dinner. The two of us went out to Kobe, a couple of hours from Kyoto.

Twelve years ago, a big earthquake hit the area, causing a lot of death and destruction. It killed over 6,000 people and according to Wikipedia, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the “costliest natural disaster to befall any one country.” Since then, every December, the “Luminarie” is set up for about three weeks as a memorial. It’s a big light display, and attracts a ton of tourists, especially considering the Christmas season is a time for couples in Japan. Going to see the Luminarie and look at the pretty lights and contemplate the preciousness of life is a very romantic thing to do, I suppose.

So, the two of us headed out that way. Apparently it usually can take an hour or so just to get through the queue even to reach the thing, but maybe thanks to the rain earlier that day, the place was relatively empty. We got to the display itself without too much trouble, and proceeded to enjoy the spectacle. The giant arched walkway and the “castle” thing behind it were very beautiful. Of course, it would be lovely to get a photo with, and so the Japanese had set up a lovely little stand where you could get your photo taken against an artificial backround of the arch, just in case the real thing standing directly beside it was a little too authentic-looking for you.

Luminarie EntranceLuminarie CastleMore LuminarieAnd more LuminarieLuminarie Photo OpKobe Chinatown

After that, it was time for dinner. All the high hopes my girl had of eating at a nice restaurant were dashed as we realised that given the late time, everywhere had shut and we were tired. So, it was off to Chinatown to find somewhere still open to munch on some noodles and rice. A drunk man came barging in halfway through our meal and started raving at the staff, who had to tell him to shut up until the customers had gone. I think he might have been their father.

After that, back at my place, I got a delicious home-made cake, which tasted exquisite. I knocked that off a bit at a time over the next few days. And then on the weekend, I got the gathering of friends, the eating at the Indian restaurant (along with free soup for my birthday), the drinking afterwards, and the drunken karaoke.

The couple of weeks after that were a mess of business, until arriving in New Zealand for Xmas yesterday. Despite being summer here, it’s actually not all that warm. Here’s hoping that tomorrow, Christmas Day, when my sister arrives and the whole family is gathered, the weather turns it on and we can have a good old Kiwi Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all!


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 25, 2008 10:38 pm

    Amazing photos. The Japanese are so good at making eegant decorations.

    So you are in New Zealand now? Say hello to Flight of the Conchords if you meet them…

  2. December 26, 2008 2:27 pm

    Yep, in New Zealand now. Done with Xmas day, so now it's a bunch of sitting around and relaxing. Awesome.I assume by decorations, you meant the Luminarie, but the Santa decoration is in NZ, by the way, courtesy of my mum 🙂

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