Friday, January 27, 2012

Adventures in mochi

So last night Louki and I went to the mochi party at the Nagoya University international dorm.  On the way there, Itou-san regaled us with stories of when she went to Izumo Taisha (with her brother as a sort of college roadtrip) and managed to not stay in a hotel room...or pay for showers...or pay for food sometimes.  Needless to say, there were extreme hijinks which involved bathing in rivers and sleeping in cars.  Man, it makes my adventures seem so boring in comparison.

Anyway, we got to the mochi party where everyone from the Tomodachi no Kai (literally "the club of friends," but they host events for international students so they can practice their Japanese) was still setting up.  We got to see a mochi machine in action!  It is the craziest thing--sort of like a cross between a rice cooker and a bread machine.  Basically, you throw your mochi rice in with water and once it has cooked, the machine starts spinning like a washing machine and the rice turns into mochi.  CRAZY.

Also, as it turned out, they needed someone to make an announcement about the party over the dorm intercom in English, and Itou-san elected me to do it, so I got to announce the party.  It was exciting.

Once the mochi was done, it was time to eat SO MUCH MOCHI.  You have never seen so much mochi in your life.  We had mochi with black sesame (definitely my favorite) and mochi with ground soy beans and mochi with red beans and mochi with grated daikon and mochi with spinach and fish flakes and mochi with cheese and seaweed (which is strangely delicious?).  Oh, and one of the students from Laos brought some kind of excessively delicious soup that I might have been way too into.
Also, while eating the cheese-and-seaweed mochi, something went horribly wrong and Louki wound up with both her hands stuck to the mochi...which was also stuck to her mouth.  The fact that she was laughing while trying to get unstuck wasn't really helping matters.  Itou-san decided to be helpful by taking a picture.

Also, all the guys in the Tomodachi no Kai kept telling us, "Mochi has twice the rice of normal rice,* so don't eat too much or you'll get fat!" and all the women kept telling us to eat more.  Clearly the women had their priorities straight.

As it turned out, most of the students from Nagoya U. who came speak absolutely no Japanese.  (Literally no Japanese at all.  I have no idea how they take classes, but maybe Nagoya U. offers them in English?)  Some of the Tomodachi no Kai members speak English, but a lot of them speak very minimal English, so they were THRILLED OUT OF THEIR MINDS when they discovered that we could actually understand what they were saying.  So a whole bunch of people came over to talk to me and Louki about a whole bunch of things, which was pretty cool.

...also there was this really awkward moment where this old guy asked if Louki and I were planning on getting Japanese boyfriends, and Louki (very sensibly) gave a very noncommittal answer while I said I already had a boyfriend.  Then he told me that Japanese boys were cool.  And I said I was sure that was so, but I kind of like my boyfriend 'cause he's pretty awesome.  And then he told me that when I break up with my boyfriend I should let him know so he can hook me up with a Japanese guy.  One of the older women overheard him and was horrified and told him he was horrible and made him apologize.
It was exciting?

There was also a guy who kept trying to convince Louki that Japan has significantly more equality than the Netherlands by citing the fact that less than half the population in the Netherlands is allowed to go to college.  Except, of course, that's not true and we have no idea where he got this statistic from.  (He appeared to believe that certain people are forced to become farmers because of their social class?  Maybe he was confusing the Netherlands with the Edo period...)
The same guy tried to convince me that atheists don't exist.
It was an exciting conversation.

But I had a cool conversation with a Japanese woman who just finished up her master's at Nagoya U. in foreign language studies and with a bunch of older ladies who foisted food on me and with some Chinese master's students in engineering.
Also, this random guy called me cool?  He said, "You strike me as the kind of person who, if a cockroach suddenly appeared, would calmly kill it while everyone else freaked out."  Ahahahahaha.  That's definitely not happened before.

So, yeah!  It was fun!  We ate SO MUCH MOCHI.  And it was delicious.  And we were invited back any time we like.  Apparently they have activities every Thursday, so I might start going to those.  It seems like a fun group, even if some of them are committed to seeing me with a Japanese guy.
I...I really don't know what to say about that.

Anyway, I am currently writing this post from a hotel room in Izumo!  I took three trains (uggggh don't even talk to me about it) with my advisor and Torii-san (the only other girl in my advisor's seminar) to get here.  It was about 8 hours in transit.  UGGGGGH.  There was some serious freaking out on the way (not on my part) 'cause there was no snow in Nagoya and then there was SO MUCH SNOW in Gifu and somehow my advisor heard that there was a foot of snow in Izumo and when we got to Tottori there was about a foot of snow and it was snowing and everybody (except for me) was freaking out everywhere...and then we got to Izumo and there was no snow at all and it's above freezing.  LAME.  I miss snow.  Which is ironic because I've only really had one winter with proper snow.  BUT WHATEVER.

Tomorrow we're going to see Izumo Taisha and also a museum related to Lafcadio Hearn...?  And probably other things that I don't know about yet.  But hopefully it will be exciting.  Two of our other classmates are taking a night bus up, so we'll see how awake they are...

*I think they meant that because mochi is basically super compacted rice, it's twice as dense as normal rice...?


  1. Hi! I'm Kirsten, and I normally lurk on Mary's blog, but since you blognapped her last month, I've started to follow your blog too. Hope you don't mind. :3

    I don't understand why people freak out about snow. I. Love. Snow. And the winter here in Cincinnati this year has been so strange - we had freezing rain last weekend, followed by thunderstorms, and now there's a forecast for a tiny bit of snow this weekend. The ground hasn't even been covered yet. Two years ago, there was a blizzard around this time (I remember 'cause I had to get here for an audition).

    And people are insanely happy about this. Go figure. I miss snow.

    1. Hi! Always nice to have more readers, so, no, I don't mind!

      I LOVE SNOW. It's kind of a pain to drive in (or so I have been told), but SNOW. Yes. There is my eloquent argument.