Friday evening, a few friends and I had a farewell dinner for Mrs. Kaneko who will be moving at the end of this month. 20 years ago, a group of kindergarten mothers gathered weekly for a Bible study and from there many of us became life-long friends. I can honestly say that the five of us who met on Friday are the ladies whom I trust the most and feel the most comfortable with.
For over 20 years Mrs. Kaneko and I have gone through the joys and trials of raising children together. When our children were young we traded off weekends and I would take Takumi and her son while she would take her daughter and Leiya (or vice-versa). We have stories to tell of how Takumi pulled the wool over my eyes by claiming "...the Kaneko's are letting Masami (Mrs. Kaneko's son) do it." while Masami was telling his parents "Takumi's parents said he could."
I have called Mrs. Kaneko for prayers when something has shaken me to despair. I have cleaned her house when she was in grief over the loss of her father. I reaped the benefits of helping Mrs. Kaneko close down her mother-in-law's house (remember all those kimono and obi I had last year?)
And now she's going off to other parts of Japan to start a new life.
Friday night's dinner was a wonderfully elegant way to celebrate 5 ladies' friendships. I'm afraid most of these pictures are food and porcelain but the way we all oohed and ahhed each time a new dish was brought out I thought deserved to be digitally recorded.
(I am the laughing stock of my friends with my camera ever-ready.)
"This is all going on Tanya's blog tomorrow! Go ahead and take your pictures so that we can eat!"
First of all, the lovely kimono-clad serving lady brought in a vegetable field on a lacquer platter. Yes it reminded me of a field. She explained what each vegetable was (all in season of course) and we were offered to choose something of our choice which would be prepared a special way.
We chose the light green leafy things to be eaten raw with a miso sauce, and tree sprouts (somewhere on there) to be tempuraed.
Actually, I don't know what all we ate but it was all good.
This is called yuba which is a delicacy made of the skimmed film made from simmered soy milk.
This interesting bottle held warmed cream soup.
A few morsels of sashimi. (Notice that cherry blossom petal made of a sliver of carrot.)
Warmed tofu so strikingly served in the large red lacquered bowl.
Whoops... I guess I'll do the serving.
The little porcelain pot on the left is really a container made of three parts. Inside were cold noodles on the bottom, green onions and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) in the middle and cold noodle soup on the top.
A bit of grilled fish.
Some simmered seaweed and bamboo shoots.
Rice with beans, soup and pickles.
And finally a cool dessert.
But all those food pictures, the food wasn't really the important part of the evening at all. The friendship was the important part.
Mrs. Kaneko brought gifts for all of us. I chose the pretty pink cup.
And we presented Mrs. Kaneko with her remade quilt (which all of us had participated in 20 years ago).
We have promised to stay in touch by chat and Skype and e-mails. Maybe we can work in an overnight girls' trip once a year?
Friends growing older together...