We have been invited to stay in Sydney with one of my long-time friends.
We were teenage pen-pals in high school – myself in Adelaide, Australia; and her in Osaka, Japan.
We arrive, and immediately we are asked to remove our shoes at the door, and to go through the 1/2 net curtains that hang at each door-frame. In this case, the house is pretty entirely decked out as a Snoppy Japanese shire / museum.
We eat on the low table with cushions on the floor. As my son loves to eat in front of the TV, this is no biggie for him!
He is promptly informed not to walk on the top of the futon bed, and definitely not to use it as a trampoline! Our friend, graciously is sleeping on the floor.
We hit the sack, on what feels also a bit like sleeping on a floor, as a futon has no cushioning, but surprisingly, I find it is fabulous for my back, and I wake up after a pain-free sleep.
Our host, greets us in Japanese of which she insists my son learns and speaks a few words – he doesn’t get why, but she keeps pushing – yeah! We also bow, and placed our hands under our chins and repeated a Japanese saying before eating – which we both mastered.
Next day we ask her to choose a dining place for a late “birthday lunch celebration’ for her, so she selects one of the most sort after Chinese Dumpling Houses. I thought my son as about to go spare, as she informs him he cannot play his 3DS at the table – it is rude. She shows him how to use chop-sticks, and orders food all for us. All dishes are new and strange to us.
Not being a tea drinker myself, I am not surprised to see him spit out his drink, which is very ungracious. She strictly reprimands him for this.
He tries to get away with just eating rice for lunch.
Yumi is persistent, and asks if he can prepare him a special surprise dish, which amazingly he agrees to, eats and enjoys, which is a mix of sauces, dumpling and other dishes. Next she is feeding him off her chopsticks, and he is eating as she shovels in all the new foods.
(Day one, she has him eating new foods)
Yumi, in a nut-shell has a gift. She is great with kids – fabulous, in fact!
She also is about to embark on opening her own cooking school; teaching Australians the art of how to cook healthy and easy Japanese dishes. Including easy dishes for children.
She engages with him to a point where I almost feel jealous. They are cooking, laughing and bonding, as she has him on his own stool, creating new Japanese foods he will eat.
(Making Teriyaki Sushi Rolls)
(Rice Balls which are part of our Japanese Picnic we take to Luna Park)
Our day to Luna Park is a load of fun, and it is great having Yumi to share it with us. We are all pretty beat at the end of the day, and she buys him a “Wild Mouse” cap, to prove he has survived the roller-coaster ride. This hardly leaves his head for days!
(Fun at Luna Park)
With great style, she continues to teach him Asian customs, and to learn new foods.
I am so impressed!
I personally would have a war.
I watch at times as he chews and chews, and he really gives it a good try – and I sit in awe of her skills that she possesses and how at the start of this trip, she has managed to overcome a great hurdle – trying new foods.
(Afternoon tea at the Opera House)
(Yumi makes a special spa bath and plays with my son at night)
Each room has different mats, curtains, Japanese products and ways to do and not to do things.
Each day has new dishes to try, and new words to learn.
We are conquering “Culture and customs mountains” with fervour.
(We learn how to set the table “the right Japanese way”
And he also masters chop-sticks!)
At the end of this week, I must say a huge “thank you”.
Thank you to an amazing lady, who is strict, loving, and persevering; and who has really done a great job of launching this new adventure.