Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Event of the Season (III)

Before I delve into the delicious December gossip, it might be a good idea to finally bring the wedding that was to a close.

I think I left you where we were getting booted out of the reception hall and it was only oh, about 2 in the afternoon. Weddings are strictly timed here (not as in, see how fast you can do it, but to ensure the whole thing fits within a set time slot, probably to make way for other suckers, I mean happy couples), so as soon as the lining up and crying and candle lighting was done, it was very clear that we were to, well, clear out. We grabbed our goody bags and had to go through whatever is the opposite of a receiving line, despite being family, providing yet another awkward opportunity to bob up and down at Baby Mama's parents. We did get mini cans of Asahi Super Dry though, which was a thoughtful touch.

Are you chewing on your hangnails to know about the gift bags? It is normal at weddings here to give a gift to every guest that is around twice what you predict will be received from them. If I were in charge of the world, I would say let's give the married couple half the amount and call it even. I have no need (or room) for photo frames and fugly crystal vases that are not my taste, although I did once receive a lovely set of Tiffany rock glasses. I buy so much already, I hate to receive stuff that I am not going to use, it is such a waste, not to mention this gifting system basically means you are buying a useless gift for yourself.

Inside each bag was a box of cakes and a nicely wrapped catalogue weighing several pounds. Apparently lots of couples do this - provide a gift catalogue with a pre-arranged label, and their guests can choose their own gifts. Later at home the beau and I scoured through the catalogue and I kept trying to guess whether everything cost the same. What a strange idea. The catalogue included food products, household items, clothing and even a small toolkit, and flipping through the pages was kind of depressing. Not because you shouldn't be allowed to buy questionable products from a mail-order catalogue, but because this was a result of some of the 70,000 yen we shelled out. I told the beau I didn't want to order anything, they could keep the money, but if you don't order something within a certain time period, the catalogue people will just send some consolation gift basket as everything is prepaid. And god forbid you don't walk away with something for your efforts. We ended up ordering a bottle of sparkling and a knife to replace the 100 yen store one I am several cuts away from slicing off a finger with. That's right, I will drop money on clothing and dinner and yet I have been using a $1 knife to cut with for the last three years. Moving on then.

I went to the bathroom on the way out and as I was washing my hands, I looked up to see a polished and sleek suited woman calling my name. I couldn't place her and yet she knew exactly who I was and was doing that wavy spazzy happy puppy thing Japanese girls do. Hopefully my look of complete blankness wasn't a dead giveaway, because the next moment I placed it: the suspicious sex friend from our unfortunate foray into the Saitama concrete jungle! Mama was looking fine! No longer wearing a too small and too short dumpy denim skirt that made her legs truly look like the beloved "daikon legs" one hears about here, she had her hair blown out and was wearing long strands of pearls with a black pantsuit (something I have never seen a woman wear to a wedding here). We had a happy little reunion while I silently wondered as to the true nature of her relationship with Baby Daddy, but I guess we will never know.

Back at the hotel we all stayed at, the beau's mom, aunt and I locked ourselves in an empty room to get changed. I didn't know an interrogation was also on the menu. You saw the pictures of these tiny women compared to my looming 5'6 frame, and yet, as they went about efficiently folding up their kimono and packing everything away, they managed to grill me about the state of my relationship with the beau. I don't think I should have to deal with questions from his family, so I tried to deflect the conversation on to him and suggested that they talk to him about it. This made them ask whether he was dragging his feet and that was what the hold up was. How could I possibly explain the myriad of reasons we would not be getting married the next month. His mother clucked that my parents must wonder what the hell I am doing over here, cohabiting with a strange man for so long (quite the opposite). His aunt started to fold up my kimono while I was getting undressed and we stopped a minute to laugh at how silly she looked running up and down the length of the bed to fold up all the extra fabric. With her own short frame, she can fold her own kimono while standing in one place but mine required her to go back and forth from collar to hem to get it all in place. The the beau's mom suggested that, if my parents ended up coming to Japan in December, why not just get married then? She is sweating for us to get married.

God I hope she doesn't think I feel bad that we weren't married first. I also hope she doesn't think I am going to get married quickly at some shitty hotel service with no dancing just so I can be married. I mumbled some crap about it being hard to plan an international wedding and they let me out of the room.

A short while later, BM and BD showed up at the hotel, having changed out of their frumpery and looking like a couple of teenagers. No honeymoon, no romantic send off, they spent their wedding night having dinner with us and then going back to Saitama. Sad face. Dinner was really nice actually, albeit a tad strange seeing as no one really knows BM and yet there we were, having dinner with her on their wedding night. In the elevator down to dinner, BD turned to the beau and I and with a shitty little smirk apologized for getting married first. Although he was just trying to be funny it took all my soul to smile back. Why does everyone think I want to get married!?

So there you have it gentle readers, that is about all I can remember from the most highly anticipated event this year. Now we can talk about what comes next.


stacywahh said...

Hello, I am a new reader, and this is my first time commenting, but I must say, your blog is phenomenal. I love the way you write, ad-libbing each adventure.

I've never been to a Japanese-style wedding, but I've seen my fair share of pictures, and you'd never guess how painful they can be, compared to how happy, even fake-happy Western ones are.

Please keep writing, because I would love to keep reading.

wakanai said...

That's it for catching up?
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to finally get these closures, but I was also anticipating and awaiting the background story on those 10 hours of a-sex in http://greeneyedgeisha.blogspot.com/2010/10/im-gonna-shanghai-you.html


Angel said...

I love your blog. I live in Okinawa and I so wish I had the slightest clue of what is going on around me, lol. Alas my Japanese skills are pathetic. Keep writing!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

stacywahh: Thanks for reading! I'm not sure if other guests are pained by Japanese weddings, but I definitely am. I think many people simply don't know any different so the lack of dancing and improvisation seems normal to them/ I should start asking people...

wakanai: I don't recall ever promising a backstory to that post...besides, I believe I was discussing riding a bike. :)

Angel: Thanks! I'm jealous of you down in Okinawa. If I wasn't such a city girl I would run away down there!

Corinne said...

Ooooo the images this post creates are wonderful. The logistics of how they're all coping with a baby now would be even juicier, going for new year??

I'm with you on the useless gift catalogue, the best thing I could find was a plate set. Thrilling... Would much rather have kept my cash and skipped the bag of useless 'goodies' in a cute bag (there was no beer in mine!!) from the wedding. Although I did end up using the bag to re-gift, gaijin recycling at it's best!

aimlesswanderer said...

You didn't know it was illegal for women to not want to get married, have kids, and stay home to look after them and the hubby?

I guess you've been together for a while, things seem stable and happy, and there is the next 'logical' step... so the potential relos start "hinting" - not so subtly in this case.

Rydangel said...

i feel you on the "when are you getting married " bit. just because all my female cousins are married, some more than once, my extended family seems to think i must be feeling left out. my grandfather gave up on the married question and is now on the when are you going to have kids question. funny how nobody ever bothers men about this. they can be single forever and a day and no one blinks an eye. if i do get married i'm going to run off to las vegas.
we don't give guests gift bags here in the states, but lately it's popular to give out a mixtape cd of the couples favorite songs along with personalized candy. in my family it's a good wedding if:
1. the bar is free and unlimited
2. the food is plentiful. there's nothing worse than shelling out a bunch of money for a wedding gift, only to have to go out and eat afterwards because the happy couple cheated you out of a decent meal.

Chris said...

They got those at the love hotels. 30 visits gets you a catalogue with 8000yen goods. I have gotten 3 so far and the 2 steaks (4000 yen each were a fucking joke!)

I like the scratch cards. I bring a U.V. light and won a free stay every time until the caught on. They were ticked about that and taped tinfoil to the back of EVERY scratch card? That musta taken a lot of man/woman hours?

They finally had enough of me and went back to the stamp card system :)

Foggia said...

Yep, slight peer pressure on getting married. In most cultures, but particularly here for sure !
This little video is quite telling:
Besides questions about the level of sexual education given to people here, Newsgirl says without missing a bit that 25% of girls having a baby before wedding is equal (いわゆる) to 25% girls having shotgun weddings.
Because having children without marrying is not quite thinkable enough.
PS: Video says that this is up to more than 40% in Okinawa, making it most probably the biggest reason to ever get married there in the South.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Corinne: Agreed. My precious cash being turned into catalogue goods is a bit much to take. Unfortunately I will be missing the first visit up North of BM and BD...it would have been such good blog fodder too!

aimlesswanderer: Maybe I am just coming of age in Japan but I have never had so many people ask me about marriage! It's got to be second in people's minds only to food here.

Rydangel: I like the mixtape idea. When money is being used to help finance the wedding (and open bar), it seems fine to me but to be used to gift stuff to myself is ludicrous. I wonder what Japan's version of Vegas is...

Chris: This is an aspect of love hotels I did not know about! I think I better start doing some field research.

Foggia: I went to check the video and it was taken down. Too bad, it sounded interesting and I would have love to hear the sex education questions and answers. I will see if I can google it out of hiding...