So Saturday after work, we went to dinner in my favorite izakaya here, Shirokiya. Most people regard this place as kind of an inferior cheap izakaya chain, but I’m just a sucker for their pork skewers and their awesome Caesar salad. After way too much food, we biked to her parents house to check out something on her new laptop, check out the Hina Matsuri (girl’s festival) decorations and chat with her parents. By the time we were supposed to head to my place (we also needed to check something on my pc) it was too late for her mother to feel safe about two girls biking all over town in the dark. So Maiko drove us in that awesome blue Mercedes. After that we just annoyed my neighbor (we tried to keep it down but he’s oversensitive and super loud himself) until 3:30 AM with sounds of laughter and talking.
Yesterday, we went on a trip to the Toki Premium outlets somewhere kind of near Inuyama. Maiko’s parents (especially her mom) go there all the time and now they needed to score one more business outfit for Maiko’s new job. Her mom really comes there often because in every store she had a friend! The outlets felt very American, and even though they had no Starbucks, did have a Coldstone Creamery! They had one in the village next to Emory University (where I was an exchange student once upon a time, just like Yasu) and the Coldstone here in Japan totally brought me back. Not that I went to Coldstone here to buy some ice cream, and I only went to the one in Emory once. I prefer Baskin & Robbins, which this outlet also had but that’s pretty normal in Japan, and I also didn’t go there.
We saw a lot of shops and a lot of Maiko’s mom’s ‘friends’, but none of us actually bought anything. Maiko did find a blue suit to complete her professional wardrobe, but she’s coming back to buy it when they have some kind of sales. In the first year of her job she has to abide to strict wardrobe rules, like nothing with stripes or another color than black, dark grey or dark blue, and only boring black shoes and white shirts without anything that makes it looks remotely special. When she finishes her first year, she can make some slightly more adventurous choices concerning her wear, but I guess this first year is like an initiation or something. To find out if she’s worthy of wearing stripes and colors. Well, I guess she’s lucky because most office ladies (the nickname for women that work in offices, the men are dubbed salary men) have to wear awful looking uniforms that don’t even look cute on the most gorgeous Japanese women. This country loves uniforms, but I’ll blog more on that in the future.
After a day of very cheap shopping, the only money I spent was 290 yen on a cup of Tully’s coffee, Maiko’s parents treated us to a delicious Chinese dinner at one of the outlet’s restaurants. I don’t like Chinese food but Maiko’s dad said that after dinner I would change my mind about Chinese food. I guess he was right! That dinner was really good, but somehow I keep associating Chinese food to the not so tasty food the Chinese restaurants in the Netherlands sell. The Japanese Chinese cook very differently from the Dutch Chinese. We had loads of tasty dishes, including Mabudofu, which is a tofu dish I once spotted in one of the books I teach and I have been curious about ever since. It has some miso (a taste which I really do not like) in the sauce, but luckily almost non-detectable and the rest of it was very good. If someone convinces (somehow still reluctant) me to have Chinese food in Japan again, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it again.
After dinner we had to wait for about 3 hours until Yasu was due to arrive in Inuyama, so we watched Titanic at Maiko’s house. I recently bought that DVD and I hadn’t seen the movie for a while, it was about my twentieth time to see it (imagine how much time of my life I have spent on this 3-hour movie) but it was Maiko’s second, and the first time had been several years back. So she cried her eyes out that night. And today we went to Nagoya for lunch with Yasu, but not before her mom ambushed us at the station because she wanted to meet Mr. Kotera. Can’t say I was surprised, Maiko’s mom is crazy like that, I love her!
I introduced Yasu and Maiko to Nagoya’s Hard Rock Café in Fushimi, where Yasu treated us to a very Western sandwich meal. And Maiko learned about my boyfriend and Yasu learned about my crazy Japanese girlfriend. Sometimes they spoke in English and sometimes they spoke in Japanese and they even gave Dutch a try. Going to the HRC is fascinating to me and not because of the Bon Jovi display, but because of the number of foreigners that congregate there. And most of them communicate in English, so I find myself surrounded by conversations I can actually eaves drop on! It’s totally distracting, so I was glad my fellow diners were occupied talking to each other, because I was too busy listening to others.
After lunch we hung out in Nagoya a bit more: walking through Fushimi, drinking coffee at Starbucks and even singing some karaoke, which my cold-infected (my sixth cold this winter) throat just couldn’t handle, so we left after 30 minutes. And of course we did some purikura too:
I’m really going to miss Maiko when I move to Osaka, she’s the first friend I made in Japan that was totally unconnected to Yasu. But it’s too early to get sad about it yet, I’m still here and so is she, so this weekend we’ll be enjoying lunch in Nagoya together again!