Meals are especially important to me in Japan, because it is the time I have that I get to sit down and truly be with my host family. We usually watch television during this time too and I really enjoy being able to observe both my family and the show being watched. Because, I am able to engage without really needing to talk. I can “oo” and “awe” with the rest of them quite easily. During every meal I am amazed at the composition of the meal. For breakfast my plate usually has a least one smiley face and is full of color. It is an arrangement of fruit, vegetables, meats, yogurt, and some kind of bread or cake. This I think is my favorite meal because it is a balance of savory, vegetables, and sweets. (I really likes sweets) I wake up probably earlier then I need to for classes so that I can enjoy this time with my host sisters. Although some mornings they are running around trying to get ready for school and I am a zombie at the table. I like waking up to a household though instead of being by myself. I think this is one of the great things about living with a family is to wake up with others already awake. I am an early riser as it is, and in dorm life have had to tip toe around until heading out for classes or work. As weird as it sounds I like being woken up by the scuffling feet of my host family instead of an alarm clock.
Anyway, going back to meals, for dinner we eat from a variety of dishes. Each dish is a ceramic handmade platter. The food presented on the platter is always composed with either carrots cut into shapes, tomatoes, radishes, green beans in a circle around whatever main dish is on the plate. Nothing is left by itself. It is always adorned beautifully like food in high end restaurants. My host mother also takes a lot of time to prepare various dishes. It is very different compared to how I usually cook on my own. In which I usually cook enough of one thing to fill me (for a week). I have noticed that it is really common in Japan to have things presented in a well arranged composition. There is a lot more stress on the visual here compared to the United States. I mean in the United States the visual is stressed but not in the same way. Carrots are not cut into flower shapes. Another example of this in Japan’s foods, is the industry of bentos, or lunch boxes. In the store Tokyo Hands you can find materials for making rice ball pandas, cookie cutters for eggs and vegetables, along with lots of other bento fillers. However, sometimes I also wonder if my host mother prepares as much as she does because I am staying at the house as a foreigner. I believe my host mother does take the time to make everything look nice even when I am not around for dinner. However, sometimes I notice at breakfast my plate is arranged sometimes a little more than my host sister’s plate.
Here are some pictures of various meals that I have enjoyed!