It’s been a busy couple weeks recently, but not solely because of schoolwork this time. Through my involvement with my Aikido circle, I’ve been to two nomikai’s. Nomikai is the Japanese word for a drinking party. I’m actually not much of a drinker, but there was orange juice and Calpis (a sort of milk/yogurt-flavored drink, that can be both a juice and a soda. That’s about the best I can describe it), there was food, and there were Japanese, and I had a good time. Since these particular nomikais were special occasions, we had to wear suits, and we got to go to these nice traditional restaurants where one would take off their shoes before going into a private room, and during one of these nomikais we sat on the floor and were able to cook the food ourselves on some sort of…cooker. Sorry, I’m not much of cook, so I can’t give much more detail than that : P I would have taken more pictures during the actual nomikais if it weren’t for the formality and me forgetting.
In addition, we also had our homecoming party—err, well, more of a welcome back party for alumni. We had to wear suits for this occasion too, and make sure that we treated them with respect, offering to carry their bags and seating them. It was a rare opportunity to meet alumni not just of the school, but who had participated in this Aikido club in the past. The alumni that came had graduated as early as eight years ago to as many as 50+! It was amazing to see the sense of community and connection that they still shared with this club. I asked one friend if she had met any of these alumni before, and I was surprised that she answered most of them!
We also had a sports festival that was sort of a mini-olympics between us and our sister school, Nanzan University. The two schools over the course of a weekend competed in around a dozen sports. Since Nanzan doesn’t have an Aikido club, we did a performance during the competition of another martial art, Shorinji Kempo. We had to wear suits for the opening ceremony, and for the lunch with our opponents after the competition. The next day we also did some sightseeing in Tokyo with the Nanzan students.
We went to Asakusa, Ueno, and Akihabara. Asakusa is the site of Kaminari-mon, or Thunder Gate, as well as lots of shopping for more traditional Japanese stuff,
while Ueno seemed like more modern shopping district. To my great surprise, I ran into a kabob eatery there with, I want to say Kurds or Turks, who spoke better Japanese than I did. It was a little surreal, but the kabob was good. And the guy let me take a picture with him.
And Akihabara is the center for anime and electronics, though we didn’t get the chance to look around there as much. It was pretty crazy though to see entire buildings plastered with anime pictures, and the streets flooded with people. Since it’s Sunday, they close off the roads for the people there.
At pretty much all of these events, suits were required. I think that if things keep going at this rate, by the end of the year I’ll have worn a suit more times in this one year than the rest of my life combined : P I’ve also noticed, in the midst of all this suit-wearing, something very peculiar that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in America. It was during the preparation for our welcome back festival, we had to go to the grocery store to buy some food and drink for it. My sempai, a woman in our club with a black belt in addition to her black suit and black high heels, was leading the way there, and long story short, we realized we were in a rush. Suddenly, she breaks out running! I kid you not! And this wasn’t just a sheepish I-want-to-run-but-feel-awkward-doing-it run. She was almost sprinting. I didn’t have much of a choice but to be dumbfounded while I ran after her. In my suit, of course.