This past week I had been given the opportunity to learn how to create Japanese pottery and dumplings, known as togei and gyoza respectively. These are items that can be found in multiple areas outside of Japan but it does not mean the style and design are the same. Given the opportunity to make Japanese pottery meant I was also given the opportunity to create my own traditionally-designed Japanese tea cup! I had not taken a picture unfortunately but, at the same time, I’m kind of glad I didn’t–you see, I didn’t really follow instructions to par and I ended up creating some sort of freak mix of Japanese and whatever my mind thought would look creative (but wasn’t really). I’ll get it back in about two weeks so perhaps I’ll upload a picture then with the upcoming blog post! Tohoku University’s Ceramics Club was kind enough to allow us foreign students to make use of their clay, tools, and tables; as well as the expert advice and instructions given by these amateur artists. At the end of the day, I think I’m happier with the fact that my clay didn’t fall apart into pieces and am just glad it held in one piece!
A few days later, a local International Student-Japanese Student club known as @home gave both foreigners and natives alike the fun of making gyoza together! Although it was nothing really special, it was my first time trying to create gyoza and–although the designs turned out terrible–they tasted pretty great! I guess my kimchi–mochi-pork-cheese gyoza dumpling mix was the real key to success!
There’s a certain type of fun to be had when half the group cannot speak the language the other half is speaking and many things have to be done via body gestures. Although the gyoza party was nothing particularly special, to learn and understand universal body signs and quickly pick up Japanese terms and phrases due to necessity made the night more of a learning experience in linguistics than food, which I did not mind at all! (There was also music playing and dancing and cooking is about as universal as it gets)
By the end of the night, I was able to enjoy a night with some newly-made Japanese friends and a Thai girl (but her major was in Japanese so her Japanese was extremely fluent!); their names were Shuuta, Miki, Kazuaki, and Popo! I had brought some Japanese homework over for them to help me with it and let me tell you it was a barrage of non-stop compliments about how good my Japanese was and how smart I am for knowing so much. In Japanese they have a term for this known as yasashii, meaning “very kind.” Every so often I had replied with yamete yo, meaning “stop that,” but in a very friendly way of course! For the cost of ~$4 for a night of dumplings, I had instead received friends whom I think I will keep in touch with for a very long time.