February 28, 2008

Ilena's Birthday, Famous People, Children Singing In Japanese

For Ilena's birthday, Mike came home early and we went out to a local restaurant that specializes in Tofu (a buffet). Ilena got special-delivery flowers (thanks Jack and Joyce!), lots of hugs and kisses from the kids, lots of phone calls and emails from back home, and Mike came through with two small presents, including that fabulous shirt that we had blogged about before (Curious Lady - Very Hundsome & Lovely Tough Girl) and a Godiva Chocolate Bar.

Ilena got to pinch hit for one of the teachers in Lauren's class today, and manned the pinwheel station, as part of their unit on wind and the weather. Her class is totally adorable!

Both Jacob and Lauren are now singing in Japanese, and Jacob is trying out words like "hajimimashite" (nice to meet you) and "arigato gozaimashita" (thank you very much).

Check this out! As we have blogged about periodically, Mike has been trying to learn more about Japanese baseball, and has been reading about the local teams, which include the Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes. As you may know, each team may only have a certain amount of foreign players, and many of the foreign players here are pretty big stars. So today, Ilena went down to CHIC to chat with some of the people there and to buy this month's Kansai Time Out Magazine (a monthly in English, which is awesome). While there, Ilena happened to meet the wife of Orix Buffaloes Third Baseman Greg LaRocca. They live nearby on Rokko Island. It turns out that they have a new baby and are keen on getting some nursing advice from Ilena. She was very sweet and told Ilena that we could join her to go to any game that we want and she could get us tickets! Needless to say, when Ilena told Mike and Jacob this at dinner, they were psyched! We would love to take in an Orix game or three, and may even have to reconsider our Japanese baseball allegiances and become Buffaloes fans!

(LaRocca had a brief playing career in the majors with the Indians and Padres, before heading to Japan. His first year here, he hit .328 with 40HR and drove in over 100 runs for the Hiroshima Carp. This will be his second year with the Buffaloes, who are his third Japanese team. Also of note, joining him on this year's Orix squad will be the now-veteran Tuffy Rhodes (who, after hitting 3 HR on opening day in 1994 against Dwight Gooden, and only 5 HR for the rest of the season, went on to become a monster power hitter in Japan)).

Finally, we leave you with a Japanese cultural tidbit of the day. Mike wanted to comment on this, because it is just striking and very different. Every time you get into an elevator here in Japan, one of your fellow passengers closes to the door works the door open/door close buttons (with gusto, as if it is their paid job). When the "operator" gets off, another passenger wordlessly replaces him or her. It's hard to describe why this is worth talking about, but its just very different!


Gabriel said...

Happy Belated Birthday Ilena! Wishing you all the best!

We miss you guys!


Michelle and family

Matthew J said...

Your experiences are so much fun to read about. I am anxiously awaiting the next 4 weeks ticking away. Hope you got my birthday phone call...Happy 23rd (wink wink)