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sports day photography walk

October 12, 2010

This Monday was a national holiday here in Japan. Taiiku no hi or National Sports & Health Day to be exact, which was originally established to mark the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. The Japanese celebrate Sports Day by holding various sports and health themed activities throughout the day. Many schools put on sports festivals, city gyms offer free admission, and there are often drives related to health and wellness held around the country by various organizations.

I had briefly considered signing up for a Sports & Health Day race around Shinjuku, but dismissed the idea due to its extreme proximity (less than a week!) to my upcoming Katsunuma 10.2k race. Instead, Eric and I chose to have a pretty low-key holiday, and did not participate in any of the organized festivities. It did strike me as kind of odd for someone like myself with a strong interest in physical & mental health to not do something particularly active on Sports Day, but I’m choosing to look at it in the same way many people view Valentine’s Day: I don’t need a particular day to celebrate my health, I celebrate my health every day of the year.

We started our holiday off by sleeping in again. We both have been suffering a lack of sleep since the beginning of the summer (originally related to the heat), and have been trying to take every opportunity to get that back on track. We were very leisurely about getting up, but, as always, went straight into making breakfast once we did.

Breakfast this morning was pancakes.

Whole grain cottage cheese & spelt blueberry pancakes with mascarpone, maple syrup, coconut flakes, and a sliced kiwi.

When I was growing up in San Francisco we lived with my grandparents, and every Sunday morning my family would gather together while my step-grandfather Kenny made amazing crepes stuffed full of my grandmother’s fruit salad and fresh, hand-whipped cream. I love looking back on those Sunday mornings together and cherish the vivid memories I have associated with them. Several years ago, in a fit of homesickness and longing for my own traditions, I instituted a Pancake Sunday policy. Now, I wake up and make pancakes (or waffles, since in March of this year, but that’s a story deserving of its own entry) first thing almost every Sunday without fail.

…except for on holiday weekends, when Pancake Sunday becomes Pancake Monday.

After our pancakes had been made and consumed, we took advantage of the clear weather to wash and hang some laundry. It was such a nice day out, though, that I couldn’t avoid the temptation to get out and do something in the sunshine. It took a little convincing to pry Eric away from the projects he had going, but the promise of visiting a cafe he used to frequent as an exchange student at Waseda five years ago eventually won out after the possibility occurred to him. We decided to make it a photography walk, and headed out shortly after with our DSLRs (I inherited Eric’s old Canon when he upgraded a few months back).

We walked from our apartment up through Takadanobaba and on toward Waseda Campus, which is probably about a 30-45 minute walk when done straight. It was fun walking through the area and seeing how things had changed over the last few years since we frequented the place. We spotted a number of new and interesting restaurants and shops we would like to try out, including a new Thai place; and even visited a super cute bubble tea shop with an amazing selection and even better prices.

It had been four years since either of us had last set foot on Waseda Campus, and going back there was really very surreal. I did not do my exchange at Waseda like Eric did, but it being the bigger of the two schools in Tokyo associated with our home University, I spent a lot of time there hanging out with friends and participating in clubs. We took a lot of pictures along the way, on campus, and also at the nearby Ana Hachimanju Shrine before stopping at Cafe Chat Noir to split Eric’s beloved Big Parfait Chocolate; which was apparently even bigger than he had remembered.

By the time we emerged from the cafe it was dark out, so we started back towards home, reminiscing about our first year in Tokyo and stopping to look at the shops on the opposite side of the street as we walked. We’d hoped to make it to the Russian place in Baba we’ve been meaning to try out for a while, but upon arrival we learned that it is closed on Mondays. After some deliberations and exploration of the back streets we don’t usually visit in the area, we decided to head back home and have ramen at the shop near out station instead.

I haven’t had a chance to sit down and sort through all the pictures I took yet, but I’ll be sure to post some later on if any came out particularly well. For now, though, you’ll have to excuse me; I have a date with some pizza dough.

Did you have any family food traditions growing up? Do you keep any going for yourself?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2010 5:11 pm

    I was about to say that my family had no food related traditions, which considering our food indulgence, would be rather ironic. Then I remembered one that we had when I was very young. Every Friday night was pizza Friday. When I was still living with my grandmother, on Friday evenings, after my mom would come home from work (and my father, before the divorce) we would order a Sausage and Mushroom pizza. Once it arrived, we would all sit around my grandmother’s kitchen table and talk about our day while we ate pizza. It was pretty much the only time we were all home. Except for the year or two after she ran away, even my sister would be there.

    Am I the only person alive who is grossed out by the texture of bubble tea? I can’t hang with it at all. It’s like drinking eyeballs.

    Now a chocolate parfait with cornflake is something I could get behind…

    • October 14, 2010 3:30 pm

      Awesome! I had Pizza Fridays every week for a couple months last year when I was working on improving my pizza dough recipe & technique. I still generally gravitate towards making pizza on Fridays when we do have it, but it’s definitely not a weekly thing over here. Especially since Fridays are the days Eric and I usually try and go our with our respective friends to catch up and such.

      I didn’t get the bubble tea thing when I first tried it in High School either. I love tapioca, but preferred the smaller pearls for the longest time. I’m not quite sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I just realized I loved it. My favorite is usually when it’s combined with coconut milk, like in Thai desserts, but the Jasmine Milk Tea we got was also really good. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some others.. this time with the “less sweet” menu option I spied after ours had already been made!

  2. October 14, 2010 9:31 am

    My family doesn’t really have any food traditions, so I’ve adopted my boyfriend’s family’s traditions. They make a special spaghetti recipe (passed down from father to son) for birthdays, or just because, and also on Christmas Eve.

    I can say that my mom made these great jam bars whenever we went camping, though. And going camping in Northern California on Nevada Day weekend (the same weekend as Halloween, except Nevadans get a day off!) was a tradition for my family for a long time, so I suppose that makes the jam bars traditional. :)

    • October 14, 2010 3:40 pm

      I love that you have spaghetti on Christmas Eve! I can’t help but wonder how that started. :>

      My family actually has a lot of little not-so-formal food traditions other than just the crepes. We used to celebrate almost everything by visiting our local Chinese place, for example (I blame that one on the New York Jew background of my maternal grandmother’s side of the family), and don’t get my started on the Belizean food traditions had going on!

      I hope that eventually I’ll be able to establish a similar array of traditions to pass on to my hypothetical future offspring.

      • October 15, 2010 7:14 am

        Oh, restaurant traditions are a totally different story! In my early childhood, we celebrated almost everything at this local Mexican place. And I think we celebrated all of our graduations (high school, community college, university) at one of the casino buffets. Classy, eh?

        I think the Christmas Eve spaghetti probably started like this:

        “Spaghetti is so great. We should have it on Christmas sometime.”
        “Ok.”
        “Wow, that was tasty, let’s do it again next year!”

        The really sweet holiday food tradition in his family is wild rice soup for breakfast on Christmas morning. My bf’s mom used to miss out on the Christmas morning Lego assembly because she was in the kitchen cooking. So she found the wild rice soup recipe, which was time consuming enough to be special, but could be done ahead and simply reheated and garnished before serving, leaving her more family time. Of course, reciting this story, along with how toddler bf called the Lego instruction booklets “constructions,” is part of the tradition too. :)

        • October 15, 2010 4:40 pm

          Awesome. I love families that work like that. :D

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