A Tale of Two Weddings: Part III

Part 3!  Yes, there was more to the wedding story than what I already posted here and here.  After Tomo and John’s Shinto wedding and reception, more of their friends and colleagues came together to celebrate in Roppongi.  During the reception in the afternoon it had begun to rain and by that evening we had a serious downpour that showed no signs of letting up.  It was a real shame that the lovely courtyard at the after party venue, Teien, couldn’t be used.  It was lit up by hundreds of twinkling lights and spacious enough for all the guests to party on.  But we made the most of it anyway.  I had a great time chatting with everyone, even met a cool Japanese wine maker and drank his wine (John and Tomo help out at a vineyard on weekends for fun).  He brought special magnum bottles as a gift for the couple and to share.

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Speaking of booze, John likes to brew batches his own beer and had some for us to take home.  I took a bottle of his amber ale on the way out of the after party.  The cute label with Tomo and John’s floating heads made me laugh out loud.

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During the party there was a quiz/ice-breaker that we were supposed to do.  I was chatting away and too busy getting know some of Tomo & John’s friends that I didn’t actually fill out the quiz.  Well, Miki did the quiz for me and turned it in as me.  And somehow “I” ended up  the overall winner!  Oh my…  What did I win, you ask?  Why, it was one of those things I’d read about, seen on TV and in Japanese markets, but never actually thought I’d get a chance to have.

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That’s right.  My prize was this EXPENSIVE melon and these FANCY oranges.  I don’t know exactly how expensive they were, but I would venture a guess and say that a box of these oranges and this melon probably cost over $100 USD.  I know it’s hard to believe but the Japanese value their perfect fruits.  They’re not for everyday consumption; they’re purchased as gifts to show gratitude to families, important business contacts, or for VIP customers.

I took these photos at the Ginza Mitsukoshi store the other day.  The box of strawberries were about $30 USD and that single melon you see below (called Musk Melon, the same kind as the one I received) was being sold for ¥10,500 ~ $100+USD.

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I gave half of the oranges away at the party, to a couple of extremely happy Japanese locals who asked me repeatedly whether I was sure, really really sure I wanted to part with them.  I could understand their hesitation and their glee because you rarely receive these types of fruits.  I lived here for a full year and never once got close to getting or tasting one of these oranges or melons…  But now I can say that the oranges were indeed very delicious.  I savored and enjoyed them as slowly as I could.

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As for the melon, it was the sweetest melon I’d ever eaten.  I regret waiting a whole week to cut this baby open- the bottom end got a bit mushy.  I know, I didn’t treat this fruit the way it should have been but I’ve never been a melon fan.  That is, until now!

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Barely 1mm between the juicy fruit and its skin…

I found out that there are Japanese farmers who specialize in growing this type of melons.  They use the best seeds to start but they also prune vigorously to leave just one fruit per plant in order to concentrate the fruit’s flavor and sweetness.  They’re known to put little paper “hats” on the fruit to prevent “sunburn.”  Once they grow to the perfect size, shape, and color (apparently they also need to have the perfect webbing pattern), they cut the fruit from the vine, making sure that there is a perfectly T-shaped stalk on top.  There are melon auctions in Japan and the famed Tsukiji market in Tokyo has them at 9:30AM in the outer markets.  It’s a big deal!  This is how my Musk melon was wrapped and packaged.  I first took off the gift wrapping and found the box, and in it whole a lot of shredded paper “cushion.”  This guy was gorgeous.  I could really appreciate all the work that went into growing this one melon.  No wonder these are so expensive!

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Now, for the gifts all the wedding guests received at Tomo and John’s reception.  I waited until the next day to open them one by one.  The little bundle and the other gifts in the bag were so gorgeously put together that I felt a bit sad disturbing them.  The cherry blossom bouquet I got lasted almost a whole week…

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It’s customary to give gifts (引き出物, hikidemono) of sweets, food, or tableware at the wedding reception (披露宴, hirōen).  Below is what was in my gift bag, but I learned that some couples give out wedding gift catalogs for the guests to choose what they want.  I guess it’s a good way of making sure everyone is happy.

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I LOVE all the presents but feel a bit guilty (maybe not quite the right word but…??) about everything I’ve received.  It just feels like it’s so much!  All I can do is to thank the beautiful couple and their families for their kindness and generosity, and to wish Tomo and John lots of happiness and love.  You two sure know how to get married!

Cheers to you!

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