Thirteen Reasons I’ll be Returning

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05/08/2013

The Kyoto Hospitality Hour

“Come to our apartment for a little sake and chit chat before we go out for dinner,” is how our invitation goes.  That said, we have easily pulled together a spontaneous series of Vapnek hospitality hours that we are very happy with.  Our guests seem delighted as well.  It could only happen here.

Our more frequent visits to Kyoto have coincided with a rise of Kyoto visits from friends and friends of friends of friends who are making first visits to Kyoto for a few days.  Invariably, we’re contacted for obvious reasons by folks just wanting to say hi, curious about how we live here as well as  looking for restaurant/sightseeing/shopping guidance.

We’ve gotten into the habit of inviting visitors over.  That way, we have a friendly social hour and can determine their interests and offer suggestions.  Generally, they’re visiting for a few short days and my main advice is not to expect to see it all on one trip! If the spark is lit, I assume they’ll return for a deeper exploration of this remarkable city.  We’ve acquired a nice selection of sake cups.  Our guest are happy to pick their own, which is a fun custom here.

Within a quarter mile radius of our apartment is a store in the Nishiki Market that has a wonderful sake selection.  (my husband’s job).  Then on to a pickle emporium grabbing some cucumbers, daikon etc.

Japanese cucumber pickles

A short walk follows to Daimaru food court for a bag of assorted rice crackers that always gather a chorus of oohs and ahhs from the first timers.

Japanese rice crackers

We bring some almonds and pistachio nuts from California each time we come so that rounds out the food tableau.

Of course, I’m in charge of set up and flowers.IMG_0158

But I do Love Birthday Cake!

better cake

My birthday is tomorrow.  My birthday is tomorrow.  My birthday is tomorrow.

better cake

Part of me experiences the childlike excitement that phrase elicits.  Part of me says this is no time for self congratulation or celebration if you’re living in Santa Barbara.  Too much has been lost by too many.

Anyhow, I can’t bring myself to call a party.  But I do love birthday cake.

better cake

Many of my friends are still evacuated.  But I do love birthday cake.

better cake

The 101 freeway is still closed to the south.  But I do love birthday cake.

better cake

No one cares as much about my birthdays as I do.  Most people have other things on their minds.  And, I still love birthday cake.

better cake

So just in case you’re a friend of mine and want to sing Happy Birthday tomorrow evening to someone who loves birthday cake, let me know.  I don’t care about presents, so no worries there.  But you’ve gotta love cake too.  And maybe a little champagne as a topper.

Tomorrow night, Jan. 15, 7:30 pm. Let me know, so there’ll be enough cake.  Address will be given when you rsvp if you don’t don’t know:

devapnek@mac.com.

me

 

 

Some Things Do Endure

A favorite activity for many of us this time of the year, is to review photographs of the past year. It always amazes me that many of “the year in pictures” photos I see have almost been forgotten in the course of a year. We live in such a fast-paced popular culture! What we thought was shocking, unimaginable, unforgettable quickly passes into ancient history, replaced by the most recent shocking, unimaginable, unforgettable event, which of course will ultimately be replaced by the most recent scandal. Overall, the general message of the ending year is that all things must pass. But that’s too painful for most of us to dwell on so instead we put on an artificial gaiety to cover our anxiety. But this year, I’ve been happy to discover that some things in my lifetime, in this case, friendships, do endure!

Relationships. Some burn hot and flame out; others, on a slow simmer, never rise to importance in our lives. What makes the difference? Continue reading “Some Things Do Endure”

It’s Almost Like Being in Love

When I’m in Japan, people seem nicer, the landscape more beautiful, the mundane more interesting. The giggling groups of young women enjoying each other’s company help me to appreciate how fleeting youth is.  The laughs I share with new friends are more frequent. The reds are redder, the golds more golden.IMG_2794

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Respect for and tolerance of others are a commonly agreed upon bond that is shared by almost everyone. Kindness prevails. People seem to smile more often than at home. I awaken earlier.  Singing too!  Rereading this, it sounds like I’ve fallen in love! Continue reading “It’s Almost Like Being in Love”