I may live in Japan and my friends may often comment that given my likes and mannerisms I must have been Japanese in a previous life, but I can tell you that I am definitely Canadian in this life! I've had a couple of (good) reminders of this over the past few weeks.
A few weeks back I attended the Tokyo Canadian Club's annual Thanksgiving dinner. A somewhat strange Japanese guy aside, the dinner was good fun. We ate turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes... the whole works! A Japanese friend who came with me wasn't quite sure about sweet cranberry on savoury turkey, but she enjoyed the meal (as you can see in this photo) and it turns out that most of the rest of my Japanese friends were disappointed I didn't invite them too. I'm going to have to make a reservation for 10+ people next year as it seems that having told friends about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner I've apparently fostered a huge following!
I've also inspired interest in another Canadian tradition - hockey. While I have been listening to as many Vancouver Canucks games as possible over the internet I miss actually watching games, especially in person. I found out in the spring that Meiji University has a mens ice hockey team but only recently discovered that that team is in the top Tokyo college league, having won the league championship 33 of the last 69 times, including the past three years running. Perhaps not the level I'm used to watching, but then again my 'Nucks haven't been playing at that level recently either! So, I dragged along a Japanese friend who had never watched a hockey game before, and headed out to a small and rather cold arena to show our school spirit. We had a great time! The game was fast paced and with the exception of a lack of effort on the part of the Meiji team in the first half of the third period (which was the reason the game ended in a tie instead of a win for the purple and gold) mostly well-played. The soundtrack included all of my favourites, especially 'Cotton Eyed Joe' and I had a great time explaining the vital role of the zamboni. There were a few differences - after the game ended and the two teams had lined up on the blue lines and bowed at each other they lined up in front of each section of the stands and bowed to their fans; the opposing team's goalie didn't bang his stick on the ice to advertise the end of a penalty, instead the announcer came over the PA system to let all in the arena know that (insert name and number here) was being released back onto the ice. Oh, and after 2 hours of sitting in a freezing arena I've never enjoyed hot can coffee or heated toilet seats more! The friend I took to the hockey game and the Thanksgiving dinner is the same person and is certainly getting her does of Canadiana! It appears that I've converted her into a hockey fan too, she bought herself a program and promised to read up on the rules for the next game!