culture

And Then My Mother Almost Threw Up

For their last day, I took my parents to the nicest restaurant I had been to in Japan. Right in the heart, as in the very veins of the woods, it was very traditional (in every way possible: food, setting, manner etc) and also very expensive (not that that matters but it does).  And… turns out some traditional Japanese food, much like other traditional foods (cough Iranian sheep’s head for breakfast cough) require some getting used to. These may include okara (soy pulp), konnyaku (devil’s tongue), shiitake mushroom and various pickles.  I guess, more than anything, it’s the texture of these foods that can get to you the most. Anyways, my parents hated the food. Well, my dad said he didn’t mind it but I beg to differ. And my poor mother almost threw up (oh no!) But but but they liked the scenery though! So it wasn’t all crying emojis.

So I was wondering, what foreign foods have freaked you out the most? When my family first moved to NZ from Iran, I personally could not fathom the putrid stench of pork. We had never eaten it back home (not because of religious reasons, we are Bahai’s not Muslims, but because it was not available). Though that changed in time and I started eating bacon with toast. Also, vegemite or marmite. Both of which (don’t lose your shit) taste the same to me. I still don’t understand how these two are edible?! Why?! Especially in a sandwich with lettuce and cheese! Argh! What was my primary school bestie’s mom thinking?! Gross.

Anywho, here are the pictorials and despite my parents’ reaction, I enjoyed the food and maybe you would too heheimage-28image-25
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The Best Day Of My Life

Day 11, we took this whole Japan thing to a whole new level. My sweet sweet friend, Fukuda sensei let my parents and I wear her family’s kimonos for a photoshoot. As I had previously worn her own kimono, this time I wore her sisters’. My mother wore her mothers’ and my father, her fathers’. Can you believe that? The generosity of the woman? I am speechless and forever grateful. I will always remember this day. Next, we ate an entirely vegan lunch! Yes, that “ham” is not ham at all.
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Day 10: Kyoto Travel

So far, day ten has been my favourite! Scroll through the pictures and you won’t have to ask why. From top to bottom: some serious squat and snap action at Fushimi Inari-taisha (that famous place in Japan with all them red gates), soba lunch, Nijo-jo Castle and last but never ever ever least, sushi at the best ever sushi restaurant where yours truly had a go at making sushi, too!
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Day Six: Okayama

WOW what a day! Lunch at my all-time favorite (and organic) Japanese restaurant: nonocafe followed by a visit to Okayama Crow Castle (because of its black colour), Okayama Korakuen (apparently Japan’s third best garden) and lastly, a healthy picnic dinner in Kurashiki Ivy Square. Note: the woman posing in the eight picture after the fish tehe.
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On Day Five The Three Little Bears Rested

From top to bottom: a walk in the village with mom, snaps from a small Japanese matsuri (festival) in the old street of my village (the food is shiitake mushroom tempura, onigiri and tempura onigiri!), lunch with Lifa, Akiko and Oz at mine where my father gifted Oz a Kinder Surprise (a surprise-toy containing chocolate egg), a gluten and dairy-free black sugar and raspberry cake, and last but oh my goodness never least, an incredible make-your-own sushi dinner at Kaori and Taka’s with BROWN RICE, avocado and all things nice. It is an understatement to say that my heart is bursting with 愛 (love). image-13image-14image-9image-7image-22image-21image-20
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Japan’s One And Only White Castle: Day 3/4

Day 3:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (I mean Anisa’s) followed by a road-trip to Okayama Aeon Mall then a pizza dinner in Iran (I mean Wake Town). For dessert, black tea and Persian sweets!
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Day 4: An entire day spent at Himeji castle during the beautiful (I mean busy) sakura season. Kirei yo! Then a much needed supper ft my healthy treats at home.
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Two Days!

I can’t believe how fast time flies. My parents bought their tickets to Japan 8 months ago! I remember texting my mother and saying  I couldn’t wait that long! Now they’re arriving in just 2 days! I literally cannot wait to share my life in Japan with them and our time in Japan, with you!

Here are some pics from the past few days… First, yours truly, all dressed up for the end of year staff party wearing the necklace my student gifted me. Next, the dinner set up.. isn’t it adorable? It’s sakura themed. That night, we ate many things which I didn’t photograph because 1. I wanted to enjoy the moment and 2. It was really bad lighting. Okay, mostly 2 hehehe. Anyways, we ate sashimi (raw fish), salad, rice balls, fried chicken, fried squid, fried octopus, fries and okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake). Third picture is a perfect example of how unhealthy some Japanese eat, an entire basket of ramen. Second last, banana and cacao nib muffins rising… Last but not least, pics of today’s stove-top granola, made for my parents. If you’ve read my bio then you’ll know my mum is the healthiest eater in our family. This granola is basically all she eats hehe. Recipe HERE.

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The Last Samurai

So I haven’t actually seen this movie.. but now I have a reason to! Yesterday I visited one of the apparently iconic sites of The Last Samurai at Mount Shosha in Himeji city. And it was really something! Here are the pictorials… for reference, the first dish is Japanese soba with wild vegetables and the second, prawn pizza and third, the love of my life, tirafreakinmisu.
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Hello Kitty Slippers And More

Yesterday I experienced my first Japanese JHS graduation ceremony and it was really interesting. Here are my thoughts:

What they wore:
So the students just wore their school uniforms with an identical pink corsage on the left chest. As for the teachers and parents, this is where things got interesting! So as per custom, everyone was dressed in formal black suits with white shirts and an elegant tie or corsage but the thing is, in Japan, people don’t wear shoes inside, they wear slippers. So here were 100+ adults in formal formal suits and Hello Kitty slippers. Or panda slippers. So so cute and strange and random. I wished so bad for another nonJapanese to have seen it with me! In addition to the black suits and corsages, all the women wore pearls. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo.

How it panned out:
I was there for the practise and planning of the whole thing so I know just HOW much effort went into it. So everything from the distance between the chairs to the carefully ironed table cloths to the immaculate bouquet displays were carefully organised prior to the event to be flawless. And I mean that in the strongest sense of the word. Just perfect.

This was also the case with everything else. So like, there was a lot of rehearsed marching. Both from the students and the staff. Everyone bowed, walked and conducted themselves in an identical manner. It was all just so so organised. Speaking of bowing, there was much of that. Almost too much. My back hurt. Without sounding rude or offensive, I think we must have looked like a room-full  of canaries. Again, super cute or kawaii. So it was really well done but in my opinion, a little too ordered. I wish there had been a little less stern faces, a little less seriousness and a little more smiling and jokes!
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Meet the Kazemis

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This was not staged. I walked into the lounge, saw this cuteness overload and snapped it.

I’m having a bit of a hard time. Going through a rough patch. Perhaps it’s the winter blues. It’s cold, it gets dark at 4.30pm and all the leaves have fallen off the trees. Or maybe I’m tired of routine…plus, the earthquakes back home aren’t helping. I really worry for my family. You know, hence the gloomy poetry. Sorry, I feel I’m still rhyming.

So the one thing (but this thing is so darn significant that it’s OK to be A thing) that has kept/is keeping, me going is the thought of reuniting with my parents after what seems a century. Also, I miss speaking Farsi. As in real-life Farsi instead of Soulja Boy through the phone styles. I dunno, something to do with my roots, maybe.

This post “Meet the Kazemis”, inspired by Meet the Patels (hehe) is the first of the many (not too many) blog posts that shall be documenting their soon-to-come time with me.
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My parents are the best people in the entire world and I honestly wouldn’t be who I am today and where I am today without them. And I don’t mean that in a cliched way, although that’s probably one of the most cliched statements eva. I mean that 100% wholeheartedly. Perhaps someday, you’ll read about it in my *fingers crossed* published memoir but for now, I’ll just say, they sacrificed a whole lot (friends, family, basic comforts) to migrate from Iran to NZ, a country where they didn’t know a word of the language or a thing about the place and they did all this, solely for the sake of me and my sister. So that we could be permitted higher-education and so, have a better and broader future.

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This is one of my most favorite photos ever. Can you guess why? I’m going to tell you anyway. In the foreground, mum is posing, like seriously posing while dad is being dad, oblivious of everything, having the time of his life enjoying the waterfall splashing on his back.

So, without further adiue, meet maman Afsoon (Kaviani). I don’t know why she keeps her original last name. She’s the one who instilled the passion of healthy eating in me. She’s the one I’ve been crying on the phone to when things here have been excruciating and not surprisingly my blog’s biggest fan. And by that, I mean she likes EVERYTHING on Facebook and Instagram without actually ever clicking the links.

Next, Baba Sirous (Kazemi). Or Sirius as NZers mispronounce. He’s a real joker. And by that, I mean he thinks he’s funny, but he’s often just rude instead. He is the kebab master of our family. Persian kebabs, much to my disappointment, with ample meat. One day, about 6 years back, he stupidly used petrol to light his kebab charcoal because whatever he usually used wasn’t there or wasn’t working and long story short, he passed out from the fumes.  Thankfully, he survived (after an ER visit!) and got back on the horse (cooked kebabs) the following day. This all took place because Baba loves EATING which places him behind my accidental eating of the whole thing(s).
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