Saturday, June 2, 2007
Happiness, Japanese-California style
Ok, early on I kinda decided that I wouldn't talk too much about personal stuff in this blog and I aim to stick to that although this post is a little borderline since it's really not that funny or bizarre in any way. But what the hell!
You see, today I attended Luke's wedding here in Tokyo and I had a great time and was actually surprised of the amount of happiness I felt on behalf of Luke when I saw him and his (now) wife. Since I know that he sometimes observes this blog (at least he goes through the notions of pretending to finding it entertaining when I tell him I posted something new and relevant to our work) I can also extend my congratulations here as well. Even though nothing is certain in life and things can take unexpected turns you can't predict and neither can or should prepare for (you can spend excessive amounts on insurances though it that's your thing), I felt that this was a special occassion and felt honored to have been invited and got to be a part of that (not to mention that the bride looked smashing). Also, the food and wine was excellent, so all in all I had a great time in a really pleasant atmosphere. Luke has been a great support for me, both in work and also helped me out with more personal things as well so he deserves all good things that are coming to him. That he's a good listener has already been document here.
From my lovely little firm, me, the boy, Meg and another person that has yet to be introduced (but deserves an introduction at some stage) were invited and we were surprised to see that we actually got really nice seats just in front of the bride and groom's seats since I was expecting that we would be placed outside the toilet or even inside it in worst case. The Boy also got recruited as the MC for the wedding ceremony which he actually managed to get through without any too serious screwups. All in all, today has been a good day so far.
So, what's the catch? Well, there's always a catch, isn't there? The catch in this case is actually not related to Luke or the actual wedding ceremony as much as it's related to how weddings are conducted here in Japan, and this wedding reception was done very much in a Japanese style. "Well, what does that mean?" you ask. Luckily I'm here to explain it to you.
Since this wedding was not a religious ceremony, at least I could avoid all the traditional and cultural trapdoors that could make me make a fool out of myself even more than usual. However, for a Japanese wedding normal "wedding presents" are not the custom, instead cash gifts are the usual thing and there's strict rules for how this is conducted. If you are a subordinate you need to give 10,000JPY (about $100), friend or same level in work you need to give 30,000JPY and if you are in a superior position you need to pay up 50,000JPY. Not only that, these bills also need to be fresh from the money press and not old used ones so just taking them out of your wallet isn't good enough. No, you need to go to the bank and get this! If this wasn't enough of a hassel to deal with, you also need to get a proper envelope for this occassion which actually isn't as easy as it seems. Fortunately the Boy could guide me on how to do this properly. I actually feel a little bad since I only gave 30,000JPY when I should have given 50,000, but this was not a strategic money management decision as much as it was due to ignorance.
So, ok, you're paying up a not insignificant amount of money for this, but what do you get in return? Well, first of all you obviously get to participate in the wedding ceremony with the drinks, food and that kinda stuff, but there's also the complex Japanese gift giving tradition to deal with. That means that you also get a present in return for you giving the gift and participating in the ceremony. I was actually partially dissapointed at the gift for this wedding since it wasn't a towel... In Japan you get a lot of towels... But it was actually a nice gift of sweets and two nice wine glasses fitting Luke's fetish for good wines.
Now I just need someone to use the glasses together with.