Half of this post is from a week ago, sorry for the delay! February 3: Setsubun Day, literally "season split" day, the day before spring. Two traditions, A: Mame maki: throw roasted soybeans and say, demons out and fortune in. It symbolizes casting out evil spirits. B: Eho-maki (Lucky direction roll): silently eat a large rolled sushi whole (without cutting) with lots of different fresh seafood, sweet rolled omelet, veggies, facing that year's compass direction (this year, south-south-east, based on the zodiac year) for one wish to come true
For a better explanation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setsubun
Miso filled wheat gluten for soup, shaped like cartoon demons for Setsubun Day.
Take a wild guess as to which tradition I took part in...
There are a variety of different free magazines at train stations with good deals. One is for hair, nails, etc, and there are several for different areas in Tokyo. It lists tons of salons in those areas with photos, and first time visitor deals. I picked one, and it was amazing! It included my first conditioning treatment, which is pretty standard in Japan. I wondered how everyone had such nice hair, even though most people dye it. For one, they cut it more than twice a year, but also this treatment is incredible, it really renews your hair.
I made a Banana Espresso cake last week for my coworker who was moving to England.
This was for a client lunch at work. It's eel hitsumabushi, so you eat the eel and rice first, then you can pour the dashi broth and add wasabi, green onions, and seaweed in a separate bowl and add the eel and rice so it's like two dishes in one.
Right now I have a very special man visiting me and I'm showing him around Tokyo. He's been adventurous, trying everything I give him including raw chicken, horned shell liver, thousand year old egg, slimy potato, chicken liver, fish eggs, salted cherry blossom leaf mochi, purple sweet potato ice cream...plus tons of "normal" Japanese food to even it out!
We continued on the prayer series at church last week. Due to my pride, I think I can live on my own but it's not true. My pastor compared prayer to private conversations between a husband and wife. The only way to be close is to have conversations in private too, not just in groups. That's why it's not that praying in church isn't enough as if there is a quota. That alone just doesn't develop a close relationship. At the same time, it is encouraging to pray with people. I went to a ladies' prayer and gyoza making time at one of the pastor' homes, and through talking and praying it opened my eyes to people's struggles and insecurities. It seems like everyone has it together but by everyone opening up like that, I hear about stress in relationships, trying to love family, being worried about what people think, anxiety for the future...
2 Chronicles 7:14-16 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.
I'm powerless to do anything compared to God who created the universe, but his eyes and heart look toward me?? How humbling and amazing, I love that!