Then I realized, I needed to figure out the proper etiquette for attending a Japanese wedding. I'd heard somewhere before that bringing money for a gift is the appropriate thing to do, rather than actual, physical gifts. (I wish this was custom in the U.S....) I told her I didn't have a lot of money yet (but I would give what I could, since I wasn't sure what the normal "amount" was. I doubt I put in a good amount, since most people probably give at least 1万 (about $100 US). I also wasn't sure what to wear, and told her about the clothing I currently owned (no dresses, only some skirts that were more "business wear"). She said whatever I wore would be fine.
The summer season (including the good 'ol rainy season) is approaching quickly. Humidity is up, heat is up, and the farmers have finally planted the rice. There are different ways the Japanese handle the humidity, but I stumbled across these the other day at a store - an entire display of "etiquette pads" and shirts with extra padding in the underarm area. Even Uniqlo (a popular clothing store, akin to Old Navy/Gap) is selling undershirts for women with these armpit pads.
Spring this year has been abnormally cold. And wet. For awhile it felt like I was back in Seattle, just enduring a typical Seattle winter of cold and wet... Granted, the temperature wasn't freezing, but it hovered near it, and just above. Though Golden Week brought lovely warm weather, and the rain seems to have settled down for spring, I was in the mood for a beach vacation. With Thailand and Malaysia and other warm places out of the running for now, my husband and I settled on planning something nearby, to celebrate our first anniversary. This is no easy feat, if you want something affordable, but not cheap, plush, but not filled with tourists, and something with non-smoking rooms (of course, if you smoke, then you can have your pick of almost anything in Japan).
So what to do? In my hunting the last few days, here's what I've discovered.
Golden week showed up and brought the summer weather with it. As Spring has been cold, wet, and dreary, the sun and warmth were a welcome change. This also meant many days outside, sunscreen, BBQ, and of course, festivals. Fujieda city, in Shizuoka, held a Wisteria Festival (藤の花まつり, fuji no hana matsuri) from early April through May 5th, the end of Golden Week. My husband and I managed to visit a couple times, and by the last day, the wisteria were raining down everywhere. As the cherry blossoms have already come and gone, it was nice to experience the coming and going of the wisteria as well, even if only in few locations.
The Park - you'll notice everyone on paddle boats