Thanksgiving was an eventful day, and was different than any Thanksgiving we had ever had. Normally, we have all the family traditions that we have tried to upkeep even though we lived so far away. Parade in the morning, decorating the tree, watching “White Christmas,” and the whole turkey smorgasbord. This year, though, it seemed like none of those things were going to be in the mix, at least in the way they normally are. Our household goods aren’t due until January, so there were no decorations (and we were in the lodge, so we couldn’t get a tree even if we had the decorations to put on it.) The parade would be shown live…at 1 am our time. And who wants to cook a Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny kitchenette for two people?
So we basically made other plans.
The plans made our first Thanksgiving in Japan an amazing day, filled with new traditions and old ones.
We have some friends who have been in Japan for a long time. When I say long, I mean nearly 20 years. Needless to say, they know the ins and outs and are a wealth of information and great ideas for things to do around the area. We went with them, and some new friends as well, to the beach. While this may sound like a nice place to spend a Thanksgiving day, let me remind you that we live in the northernmost area of the main island in Japan. This means cold weather and snow for a good part of the year. That part of the year had started, so our beach trip was quite literally freezing. We arrived and hurried to bundle up in the massive amount of layers we brought with us. It was 0° C and snowing, though our awesome Swackett app said that it felt like -4° because of the wind chill. It was beautiful and brisk, and we were excited for a fun adventure.
We walked the beach with different purposes. Most of our friends had the purpose of looking for sea glass. The fishermen up here use the glass fishing balls, and they often wash ashore. Apparently the area we were in was a prime spot for finding these treasures. My purpose, though, was to find some great photo opps. (Does this come as a surprise to anyone??) We were all rewarded one way or another! Most of our friends ended up with sea glass, I ended up with some awesome pictures, and we all ended up having a great time.
Here are some of the pictures from Shipwreck Beach. By the way, these are real shipwrecks.
After Shipwreck Beach, we all felt that we needed a warm place to warm our body temperatures (and go to the bathroom!) so we met up at a local shop that sells tofu donuts. The donuts were amazing, the bakery was adorable, and we had our first experience with a traditional Japanese bathroom.
After our trip to the beach was over, we returned to Misawa to join our work associates at my principal's house for Thanksgiving. We had an excellent turkey dinner and more pie than one could even imagine. It was a warm, inviting event and we felt right at home with our new friends. One of our friends even brought her Yorkie, so we got to play with him and find a new friend for Seamus once he gets here.
Later that night, I watched the parade, skyped with our families, and began my online Black Friday shopping! All in all, it was a great first Japanese Thanksgiving.