Ladies Group Party

Today was the annual LG holiday party.  This has gotten to be the highlight of our year. I met these ladies the year we moved to Japan and we have been meeting weekly ever since which is actually something rather out of the norm around these parts.

Christmas isn’t really a holiday here and truth be told I’d rather not put up a tree and such but it really blesses my guests so I go ahead and decorate the artificial tree we bought when we moved here. I set up the little snow village under it that I’ve had for years. That village brought my grandchildren so much fun when they were little. Gosh how they loved playing with it.


We always do this party as a pot-luck with a gift exchange “American style” by writing our names on slips of paper and tossing them into a box-and then drawing out a name. You buy a gift for the person that you “drew out of the box”.

Japanese stye gift exchange is somewhat different- it goes like this- you buy a gift for a set amount and bring it to the party or gathering. All the gifts are placed together and numbered. The numbers are also written on slips of paper and put in a box and then everyone draws a number out of the box. The number you draw out is the number of the gift that you “win”.

I’ve seen some strange things happen with Japanese gift exchange. Once a friend of mine “won” a pair of men’s socks. I asked her…so, what will you do with them? She said that she would re-gift them. I dunno-that’s no fun. Our group has really come to love the “American” way of gift exchange. The first year that we did it they reported that shopping for a specific person was much more fun and it made the event special.

img_6620_editedThey always enjoy the tree and the decorations. I cleared the regular table out of our TV tatami room to make room for our party. This is an 8 mat room-kind of standard size. Rooms in Japanese houses are multi-functional. It isn’t unusual to clear out a room to make way for a gathering.


Opening  the doors between the tatami room and the kitchen makes the space bigger. Our old home is very simple but I love it and I’m really thankful for it. The white “thing” in the right corner is a kerosene heater. I had two on today to keep the rooms warm.



The cozy clutter of a old-style Japanese kitchen that I have honestly come to love. It’s comforting to me somehow.


One of the ladies brought a mashed potato Christmas tree salad she fashioned. Under the broccoli are mashed potatoes!

My gift was awesome. I was given this interesting kanji book that I love!


It shows a kanji on one page and a picture of what the kanji means on the other page.

The kanji below is “moon”- tsuki.


Then there is “shadow” – kage.


Here is “person”- hito.


In the gift bag was also a little glass plate panted with pretty flowers.

We always have some sort of activity- this year Mrs. A taught us how to make this little basket. Harder than it looks. I made the green one.


At around 3:00pm everyone left and I began the clean-up.

Our tatami room, the party set up put away.


Now for the set up of the kotatsu table. The rug goes down. Then the chairs. After that the kotatsu table frame.


Next, the blanket is put on the frame.


Last, the table top gets set on top and we have a cozy place to sit in the evenings which- is where I am writing this post!

We have a typical old home where nothing really matches. The rug doesn’t match the blanket and the curtains (in the other room) don’t match anything but that is one of the things that I have let go since living here- the need to be “perfect” and coordinated. At one time in my life that was something that used to stress me. Not any more. Actually-I suppose we could have things that matched but I buy things that are in our budget-meaning the things that are all coordinated are far more expensive. We are trying to live as minimalist as we can-because we enjoy that life-style. There is a freedom that comes with being satisfied with what you have. We love our cozy little space.


Just sort of today’s diary post…nothing fancy. No eloquent words- I’m too pooped for anything fancy tonight. Wonderful day today…I’m blessed and very thankful.



16 thoughts on “Ladies Group Party

  1. I also enjoyed your party–the mashed potato tree is something!
    Thinking about your sign off–the whole post is about enjoying simple things, so simple words fit perfectly!
    Lovely day. :)

  2. I loved being at your party! Looked like such fun and friendship.
    I so enjoy your “Ordinary Life”. Thanks for the pleasure

  3. It is very difficult to make friends in Japan. Friends as we westerners think of friends-people that we can really share our hearts with and open up to. These women started out as “just students” and have grown into close friends. It took a lot of effort and patience on my part. They love (and request) this holiday party so I do this to serve them…it has really been a venue into their hearts…and has blessed our relationship.

  4. Mrs. N, thank you for sharing your life in Japan. I visited there while in the navy and found the people very cordial and open. I got to know a shipyard foreman as he was working on our ship while we were docked in Sasebo for a short time. The second time we came there I met him again and he invited me to visit his home for a nice evening and supper with his family. That was one of the highlights of my tour in the navy.
    That evening we sat on the floor, around a table with like yours with our lower legs down in a pit with a habatchi pot in it. That was the only heat in their house and sitting around that table and visiting was what the family did in the evenings.
    I found out that the rest of their relatives lived in that immediate area and in adjoining houses except one niece who had married an American sailor and moved to a town not far from where my base was in Washington State. They got so excited to hear that, when back home, I lived near their niece. They asked if I would be willing to bring her back some gifts with me that night and I told them that I would be happy to do so. Well, that started a parade of relatives coming to their home with gifts for this young lady. I ended up with a large box full that I took back to America with me of mostly hand made gifts. She was greatly loved and missed. I shipped the box to them by UPS once back home and the niece wrote me and was very grateful and invited me to come and visit them, but I never took the time to do so and it still makes me sad that I didn’t do so. I think that I had met my wife about that time and I was spending all my free time with her. :-)
    God bless you,
    Michael from AWV blog

  5. Japan is an awesome country. I love it here. It is different but I’m “easy” and just sort of go with the flow-makes it much easier to accept the differences-like not having heat and such. I know exactly what you mean about all the gifts you were given to take back. Gift-giving is such a huge part of the culture. When you live here it is a never ending circle. It is a part of keeping relationships- not that you have to give presents to keep friends…not at all…it is a way to appreciate your friends. Most “gifts” are things like….cucumbers from your neighbors garden or a couple of cans of ice coffee on a hot day. A bowl full of cherry tomatoes or some buttons cut off of old clothing for a friend who likes to make crafts…the culture of “on” and “giri”. you have a sister who lives in Japan..who knows what the future will bring. Thank you for your comment- I enjoyed reading it.

  6. I think we in the west could gain much from the Japanese culture. They are very family oriented and thus giving in nature. When you consider that Jesus introduced God to us as “Our Father” and Himself as our Brother and all the family terms that are used to describe the ecclesia (church) of our Daddy’s called-out ones in the New Testament, I think that if those people ever heard THAT gospel they would be enthused about it. The gospel of the western church has been too heavily influenced by the Greek and Roman cultures of philosophic studies and imperial rule. We in the west tend to value things more than we value people and relationships and thus the over emphasis on worldly success and possessions in our churches. I love the simplicity you are living in, dear sister. :-)

  7. I couldn’t agree more with your comment. The Lord has called me to walk this simple path and I had to learn to love it. Now, I wouldn’t want to live any other way. The freedom that comes with holding things loosely, with owing few possessions and being absolutely content with it is refreshing, calming, burden-lifting. You will see nothing but this simplicity here on this blog. Stop by if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle… :)
    God Bless you brother-I am delighted to have been introduced to you by our Father!

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