Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My son has more money than I do now…

DSCF0002The pile of envelopes pictured here aren’t even half of what we got. These are just the ones I managed to hold onto specifically for this photo.

Just as today’s post title states, my son does have more money than I do. A lot more… I never had much of a savings even before most of what I had went back into paying off my credit card debt and student loans I incurred over the past 6 years. I am glad to not have any debt but it does kind of suck that my son is richer than me and he doesn’t even know what money is. Haha! What a lucky kid.

Since my son’s birth, we’ve been receiving traditional envelopes from friends and family stuffed with cash very similar to the ones we received when we got married a couple of years back. The average envelope usually contains one 10,000 yen note or more but there's a catch to all this money. The catch is that the gift giver expects about half of the money they gifted to return to them in the form of a thank you gift. So while you may think you are getting a lot of cash, in reality you’re not. Actually, if anything it causes an inconvenience to the receiver of the gift because they have to go out and look for a return gift. Returning cash isn’t acceptable. I find this to be a pretty ridiculous custom but it’s the way Japan’s been doing it and I doubt my wife or I will be able to change things.

What's the point of giving a gift if you always expect to get something back at an exact predetermined value even? Why not just give a smaller amount and actually give it as a gift! What an idea huh? Of course if the gift receiver has any proper manners and common sense they will send a card or visit in person to say thanks. What more do you want? I still like the Japanese gifting system even though I have problems with it. I know everyone who gives these kinds of gifts genuinely does care and doesn’t feel that this is something they are being forced to do by societal customs. No, that kind of gift giving usually happens during weddings and funerals. Both of which I’ve had plenty of experience with. Winking smile

Here’s to my son’s new found fortune. May he live to see it increase many times over.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It snowed… barely

NEC_0037I love snow! I love it so much that I wish it would snow more where I live much to my wife’s disapproval. I figure if I pay for snow tires I should get some use out of them, right?

Well it snowed a little overnight but not enough to play in. There is supposed to be more this weekend but who knows what will happen?

-edit 1/25: There was a little snow on the 20th and also over the weekend but it fell in Tokyo and on the other side of the mountain in Fujiyoshida. BOO! Bring the real snow! I want to make a snowman. XD

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My son's first visit to a local shrine

This picture was taken during the summer blessing before he was born.As is Japanese custom, babies are expected to be brought to a shrine for blessings one month after birth. This was my second time to visit this particular shrine. The first time I visited was with my wife and her parents to give offerings to the shrine and have the priest there pray for the safe birth of our soon to be born child.

DSCF0003There was nothing particularly fascinating or interesting about the old shrine where our private ceremony was held but it really did feel authentic and exciting to me. Actually, the exterior of the building was far much more interesting to me than its interior. Not to mention that it was warmer outside than it was inside the drafty old building.

The actual ceremony was very short and we were in and out of there within 10 or so minutes. The priest waved fancy folded papers handing from a stick over us, mumbled some prayers, lightly rapped us with palm fronds and promptly sent us on our way. I think parents in law gave the priest some money on top of whatever offering we also brought in.

DSCF0007The most memorable thing about the ceremony was that the priest got our last name wrong. I quietly chuckled as I commented to my wife under my breath that he got our name wrong. She was also kind of surprised because the got it right the last time we were there. My last name is not too hard of a name to say as it is a pretty common American last name but it sounds a lot like some other comical words in the Japanese language when it is “Japanized” for lack of a better word.

Outside of the priest’s slipup with my last name, the ceremony went smoothly. I lowered my head and prayed when I was expected to and understood mostly what the priest said.

DSCF0009Oh, I did forget one big detail about this particular ceremony. Some time most likely in recent Japanese history, some doofus had the bright idea to put lacey dresses on babies regardless of their sex. So my poor son had to wear a cute lacey dress to the ceremony. I argued and complained as much as I could to get my point across that I wanted my son to be formal and look like well, a guy, but my wife and mother in law were pretty firm in holding to cultural “tradition.” Honestly, I am not sure how traditional this is as it is a dress, not a kimono.

DSCF0008Dresses are not traditional in Japan so it really makes me wonder how this became normal here. Oh well, it was only a few minutes. After the ceremony was over I quickly removed the eyesore and returned some dignity back to my son. Open-mouthed smile

So that’s it for my son’s first shrine experience. Weird huh?