Howdy! As of right now, only 65 minutes remain until the end of the worl- I mean, year. And I'm sitting here w/ a full stomach. A stomach full of sukiyaki, which is a lovely dish. And also s'mores. Yes, we had s'mores tonight, w/ marshmallows melted over a gas stove. Don't laugh - it turned out OK.
Anyway, our friends Kaki and Erica are here - Kaki from Oklahoma by way of Hong Kong and Erica from Kagoshima. And we're chillin'... We got a late Christmas load of gifts from our iMPACT group in Oklahoma (thanks for all the great stuff guys!) from Kaki's luggage and since they arrived we've been having a great time sometimes doing nothing and sometimes making our own fun and sometimes doing stuff w/ island friends.
They arrived on the all-night ferry earlier than we expected on Friday, but we were able to get to the dock not too much later than when they got there. We gave them a bit of a tour of the island and we opened presents and we ate a picnic lunch at the Onotsu beach and ate a big pot o' chili for dinner. Today we went to a friend's house to see how mochi is made (basically, you take a big pot o' rice and put it in a big pestle and smash it repeatedly w/ a big fat wooden hammer) and then took a very long island tour in another friend's car. And tonight, sukiyaki, sparkling grape juice, and s'mores. Just good.Later tonight, we're following our librarian friend's tip and are going to go up to the hilltop Shinto shrine at midnight. Apparently, there is some kind of ancestor worship or whatever going on up there, and we want to observe it. We'll also probably go up to the shrine tomorrow for a while - New Year's Day is a really big holiday for Japanese people. Aubrey's boss described it this way (loose quote follows): "We go to the shrine for about 5 minutes, usually dressed up pretty nicely. Then we put some money in the money box and pray for good luck for the next year. Then we pull the rope and we're done - it all takes about 5 minutes." If anyone out there still wonders why we harbor a deep spiritual pity for these people, may I present the preceding quote as a powerful exhibit?
Anyway, we look very much forward to more fun w/ Erica and Kaki over the next few days.
Finally, I would like to call attention to (w/ a nod to the Westminster Confession of Faith's Chapter XXV, sub-point VI) this photo of Satan Claus. And all this time you thought I was making it up!
Happy New Year!