Mouthful of a name isn't it? Well I call my assistant at work Nori for short. The other day he invited me over for dinner at his house. At 26 yrs old his household comprises of him, his father, both of his grandparent and his great grandmother (who is amazingly 100 yrs old this year)
The beautiful Butsudan at Nori's house
The house was soooo cold, so cold that I thought my fingers might freeze around my chopsticks. You see the Japanese DON'T have central heating. Can you believe it? A country whose winters are almost more brutal than in the UK and a country that is so technically advanced? What?!
Nori on the left, Nori's father in blue shirt, his uncle and grandmother
I then met Nori's father who returned late from work and his lovely grandmother. Neither of them spoke a word of English but I stumbled through using my terrible Japanese. At least I tried! I only met Nori's grandfather briefly and he later explained that his grandfather hated the Americans and the English. How bad did I then feel?! The war scars obviously never really healed. I did my best to promote international peace, gave countless bows and "dozo yoroshiku onegai shimases" ("nice to meet you" or more literally "please be kind to me")
Nori's uncle then appeared clutching a few bottles of Toyama's best sake. We laid out all of the Nabe ingredients on the low table, placed the camping gas stove in the middle of the table (yes camping stoves are very popular household item here!) and chucked everything into the bubbling pot.
The Nabe was so delicious and its the first time I've drank sake and actually liked the taste, hallelujah. I didn't particularly want to spend a whole year in Japan only drinking Chilean Cab Sav! I'm sure his father and uncle were trying to get me drunk. I did my best to stay sober but must admit was a bit wobbly when I left the house and didn't even feel the cold when I got outside. So that's why hot sake is so popular in the winter!