Furutsu Basuketto

Sometimes our days are filled with trips abroad and excursions throughout Japan. But sometimes, well, usually, they are filled with the ordinary activities of life. Trips to the base for shopping, a stop off at a convenience store for lunch (yes, really great lunch from 7-11!), swimming lessons, getting together with friends, trying to fit a nap in here and there.

Today was spent more on the side of the ordinary. T and I went to Furutsu Basuketto (pronounced Foo-roo-ts Ba-soo-kay-toe)…translation, Fruit Basket! It is a ‘mom-and-me’ style get together where moms and toddlers come together twice a month to sing, play, do crafts, and read. Besides the words from a great friend I met there, who spent 10 years in Canada, we are surrounded by Japanese music and mama-ese. We sing and sign along as much as we can, laughing and smiling all the way. Perhaps I do notice some looks of sympathy as I stumble through introducing little T each week and maybe just pure concern as I tickle and jump and follow along as best I can. I don’t mind. In fact, I love it. It is one of a few, true opportunities to be completely engaged with our neighbors, despite the cultural ravine we traverse every day.

Today, our Fruit Basket meet-up held some extra special activities and treats. The kids went ‘fishing’ for homemade goodie bags that were fashioned into the shape of fish.

And, each kid won a ‘yo-yo balloon’ by tossing a ring into a floor of ‘yo-yo’s’, hoping to catch her/his favorite color.

What’s a yo-yo balloon? Yeah, I had no idea either. It’s a small, water-balloon sized balloon, filled with a tiny bit of water and mostly air, with a long rubber band attached. The water provides the balloon with a little weight, and the rubber band serves as a bouncy string to catapult the yo-yo up and down. Much delight had by all!

Then, as an extra special summer treat, all the kids snacked on Aisu (pronounced Ah-Ee-Soo)–ice!–or what we know as popsicles. In some brilliant and totally Japanese-style forethought, the leader of the group brought out a huge blue camping tarp that she laid on the floor before handing out the popsicles. In order to have a popsicle, the tots had to be on the blue mat. Brilliant. Almost complete silence followed the Ice distribution. Refreshing!…the silence and the cool treat.

The last 10 minutes of the session are typically spent reading a book aloud. T loves to point out the book and then proceed to squirm as she cannot figure out why she is not quite understanding the story!

We are usually both worn out and ready for lunch by the time we say Bye-Bye and Arigato Gozaimasu (Thank You) to head out for a hot, humid walk home. I am grateful for these days. Days to put pride aside. Days to wing it. Days to laugh and engage beyond all language differences. Days to connect and be a part of the land in which we live.

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