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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
OK so it's still a bit early for everyone in the US, but I celebrated Thanksgiving this past Saturday.

Someone from the Yale Club of Japan was kind enough to plan, cook, and co-host a party that had a strong cohort of Yalies present. Here we are, along with the gracious host who opened her house for the event (she's in the center right, next to me). 

Dinner was DELICIOUS. All the traditional trappings of Thanksgiving:

butter corn, green beans, collard greens, ham, stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, sweet potatoes glazed in brown sugar and (not pictured) squash soup and cornbread. 

There was even pie, and everyone knows how much I LOVE pie. 

It was great to get together with everyone again, catch up on how we had been doing, and have some libations together--in advance of Yale's excellent win against Harvard! Boola boola!

That being said, Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without a little bit of self-reflection about the things I'm thankful for this year:

1. My family. It hasn't been easy for us to be so far apart from each other, and the support of my parents and brother and boyfriend and everyone else has always made coming to Japan that much easier. I'm really blessed to have so many people support my love of Japan, and everyone's positive comments and well-wishes and affirmations mean a lot to me. Now I just have to get a few more of you over here to show you all around!

2. Getting to explore Tokyo. Although work always seems to take up too much of my time (isn't that the case for us all, though?) it's been such fun to get to live and explore and feel more at home in this amazing city.

3. Writing more. This blog again, of course, but also for publication in real (!!) blogs and magazines that make me truly feel like a Writer with a capital W. 

4. Cooking. I've written a lot about cooking, recently, including HERE in the Yale Daily News Magazine, but developing this skill over the past half-year has meant a lot to me and I'm looking forward to when I have a proper oven again to expand my culinary repertoire even more!

There's more, of course, but these are the four biggies. 

Then, today, I went to Kichijoji, a really popular suburb in Western Tokyo, to explore Inokashira Park and the cute nearby shopping districts with my friend Troy. 

Here's Troy with his snazzy camera in action. 

Inokashira Park is actually quite big, but never feels that way from the inside because it's not wide open spaces as much as it is meandering wooded walkways centered around a large pond. 

Even though it's already mid-November there's still quite a few trees that have vibrant fall leaves, unlike most of the US which, I've been told, has already had snow. 

The center of the pond is home to an equally vibrant shrine--the Inokashira Benzaiten. 

Benzaiten is the Japanese incarnation of the Hindu goddess Sarasvati, and shrines to Benzaiten are often found near (and associated with) water. Apparently couples who ride the swan boats in the pond around the shrine are also doomed to break up because this jealous goddess curses them...

Here's a cute little jizo (jizo are Buddhist guardian statues of travelers and the weak, among other things and are often draped in red capelet-stole-things and caps) and a snake-headed fountain where you can purify your hands, both in the shrine complex. 

The shopping streets surrounding the park and train station also have a great, local vibe to them:

Though I did spot these two weird things...

I think I'll give both that "bread" and the video store a pass, thank you very much...


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