Wednesday, August 19, 2015

California Day 3 - Little Tokyo and JF Nihongo Tea Time

Good morning. Yesterday afternoon, Amanda and I went to Little Tokyo and the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles.

We wandered through a lot of different shops before heading to Fugetsu-Do Confectionery, which is one of the oldest Japanese wagashi shops in CA.

While Amanda and I enjoyed the sweets we had bought, (red bean mochi, lemon mochi, and tsuya) I was disappointed by the interior of the shop. There were a few cases of their handmade sweets, but then the rest of the shop was filled with basic prepackaged snacks and sweets you could buy in any Asian market. For a shop that has such a long history and good reputation, I was imagining the inside of the shop to be nothing but their own creations.

After eating our sweets (dessert first?!), we decided to stop for lunch/dinner at Daikokuya, a restaurant near Fugetsu that sells ramen and rice bowls. I got the chicken teriyaki rice bowl, which came with salad and miso soup. I wasn't expecting such a large bowl of chicken and rice! It was good. I'm glad I didn't get the ramen because it would have been quite a large bowl! I would recommend this restaurant, but not during this time of year. The heat from their kitchen area fills the entire restaurant and the overhead fans do little to dispel the heat.

Afterwards we still had some time before our tea time at the Japan Foundation so we walked over to the Little Tokyo Galleria. We bought some more things from their Daiso store. They had a different selection of craft items so I bought some packs of mini bows for amigurumi making, a pack of metal charms for resin work, a cute pink pincushion, another pack of shrinky plastic, and a bag of chips. One of Amanda's friends was going to be at the tea time event and since it was her birthday, Amanda bought her a pack of fruit scented pens as a gift.

We drove over to the Japan Foundation on Wilshire to participate in their Nihongo Tea Time event. The event is a casual cafe-like setting where you chat with native speakers and instructors about Japan. When you arrive, you are asked what percentage of Japanese to English that you would like to speak. Amanda and I have no experience in Japanese so we went with the 90/10% option.

You sit at a small desk with either a speaker or instructor and talk about whatever topic they have assigned. After about 10-15 minutes a bell rings and your speaker or instructor moves to another desk. It gives you a chance to speak to different people.

Halfway through they made everyone on the right side of each desk with 90/10% skill level move to another table. The introvert in me was frantic since I could talk to Amanda at our desk and now I was going to have to socalize with someone else, but it turned out ok in the end.

Amanda and I agreed that our favorite instructor was a former university professor. She had such an easygoing approach and made the language fun to learn.

At the end of the event, we were given a sheet a paper and shown how to write our name in Japanese and then we were asked what our favorire thing was. I chose 'cat' so the instructor showed me how to write cat (neko) in Japanese. After we practiced a bit we were given a formal sheet to write our name and favorite word to take home as a gift.

I wish we had something like this foundation in Mobile, but we don't have the population or interest for such a thing.

Today's plans are crafting. Amanda and I plan on going to Michael's after she gets out of work. We want to look for some more stamps and inks.

Until next time >____<

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