Heidi’s Bee Themed Baby Shower

Baby shower is not a practice here in Japan, but my foreign and local friends who are cool and open to experiencing new things and other cultures made this event possible.

They organized a Bee themed baby shower for me last September 08, and it was a whole lot of fun.  The party was from 2:30 to 6:00 pm at a karaoke bar in Hakui City.

Anyway, it was a potluck party, so we all brought food and drinks to share with everyone. Most of us arrived at 1:30 pm to decorate the room and set up the food station! 

Then, we started playing interesting games.

Make a baby bump

First, the boys were given 3 minutes to blow balloons and put them inside their shirt.   The one with the biggest baby bump won the game.

Belly measurement game

Second, each person was given a string to guess the size of my bump.  Afterwards, when they’re done figuring out how big my belly is, they all went to me with their string and we cut the difference.  So the person with the shortest string won!

Old Wives Tales

Third, we answered the Old Wives Tales questionnaire together, and I asked them to guess if my baby’s a boy or a girl. Of course, we didn’t reveal the gender just yet.

Name that poop

Fourth, we asked the guests to identify the chocolate in each diaper! Gross, right? Hahaha.

The price is right

Fifth, we put baby items on the table and made our attendees guess their price! The winner was the one closest to the total price of all the items.

Also, in between games, we requested our guests to sign our guest book, write their advice for us and their wishes for the baby.

Then, we popped a huge black balloon to reveal our baby’s gender!  Yay!

Shortly after, we gave everyone bee cupcakes that also revealed the gender of our baby.

And we opened the gifts that we received from everyone!

Lastly, we did karaoke from 4:30 to 5:30, and everyone helped cleaning up the place (It’s Japanese culture!) before we left the venue.

Susumu and I are truly grateful to our family and friends here who make our married life colorful! And we are happy to have A VILLAGE, a very loving and safe community, to raise our child with.

Chūbu Region Honeymoon Road Trip

My husband and I initially wanted to hold a separate wedding reception in the Philippines, and go to Boracay since he’s never been there.  However, the moment we found out that we’re having a baby, we consulted with a doctor, and I was advised not to fly.  I’m actually fine; it’s not a high-risk pregnancy, but I am in Japan, and doctors here can be very protective.  Perhaps, that is the reason why it’s one of the safest countries in the world to give birth.  They don’t only take extra care of the babies but their moms too.

Anyway, better safe than sorry! So we scrapped the original plan and decided to just drive around the Chūbu Region for five days for our honeymoon.

From our house, our first stop was the…

  1. Tateyama Alpine Route (Toyama)

It’s a two-hour drive.  Then, we took a cable car to the bus stop, and a bus took us up to Murodo Station where we saw these beautiful scenic spots.  We walked around the area for an hour or two, and YES, our journey was longer than our stay there, but it was worth it.  We felt really close to nature being so high up there surrounded by the Japanese Alps.

All in all, it was just a half day trip, and we went back home that night! 

The next day, we went to one of UNESCO’s World Heritage site, a traditional Japanese village…

2. Shirakawa-go (Gifu)

The ancestors of the residents here helped each other build these gassho-zukuri farmhouses about 250 years ago.

After two hours of strolling around, we headed to . . . 

3. Nagoya City (Nagoya)

We just visited the castle and the newest landmark in the area, Oasis 21 Rooftop.  It’s at the shopping area of Sakae District.  We stayed there for the night, so we had time to visit a pub near our hotel, and I was glad to talk to the manager who knew a lot about the Philippines.

The following day, we went to one of the best hotels in Shizuoka to see Mt. Fuji! It’s no other than the…

4. Nippondaira Hotel (Shizuoka)

I really enjoyed our stay here, and we are definitely coming back sometime during the winter when the skies are clear. We were able to see Mt. Fuji but only for a short time. It turns out that in the springtime, Mt. Fuji is only visible from dawn up to 8:00 or 9:00 am until the clouds get in the way. Nonetheless, it was a great hotel for a honeymoon & their food was great too. We had a French course menu, and our tummies were very satisfied.

In our attempt to have a closer look at Mt. Fuji, we drove to…

5. Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival  (Yamanashi)

The clouds completely blocked Mt. Fuji, but we were pleased by the beautiful garden all the same.

6. Nagano City (Nagano)

Our last stop was Nagano City. It was a relaxing night. We pretty much just had dinner, massage and stayed at our hotel.

The morning after, we visited the Zenkō-ji Temple before we headed home.

There, my husband bought me an amulet for safe delivery. Then, we drew an omikuji, and I luckily got the best one, great blessing (大吉), yay!

Well, I really like this temple except for its pitch-black passage underground, where everyone is not allowed to use a flashlight. I know, it is a very spiritual thing for Buddhists; it is a purging experience, and I would have appreciated it if I weren’t pregnant. I just really panicked in there because I could see nothing, not even the floor and not even my husband. So I was little worried about the safety of my baby. But of course, if you are sure that you won’t have a heart attack while walking in the dark, by all means, try it.

There you go!

That’s all we did for our honeymoon! It was tiring, especially for my husband who did all the driving, but it was definitely fun!

As far as I remember, it cost us about 200,000円. The gas and toll fees were of course, pricey. And we splurged on food!

But our honeymoon is still cheap compared to most Japanese couples who go to Hawaii and France and spend about 1,000,000 円 .

A Japanese Wedding with a TWIST

This post includes a narration of our wedding day, and a list of things that we did that weren’t very Japanese. Since my husband and I are from two different cultures, we had to compromise.

Let me begin with the CEREMONY

On our big day, we arrived at the salon at 8:00 am, then, it took the staff about two hours to do my hair, makeup and to dress me up. They also did the same for my aunt and my sister, but they finished way earlier. As for my husband, he did not need anything but assistance to wear his hakama.

I kinda gave the staff a hard time because my hair is really short, so it took them a while to put all the flowers in it but, I loved the way it was done.  It looked very simple like my makeup.  Plus, I’m glad that they did not pale me up. Well, before we even started, I definitely made it clear that I wanted to look as natural as possible, and my wish was granted. Yay!

At  around 10:00 am, we moved to the shrine for a 30-minute pictorial and a 30-minute meeting.  However, since I couldn’t understand the instructions well because they were all in Japanese, we asked the help of a friend to translate everything in English.  As a consequence, the meeting was way longer than expected.

The ceremony was supposed to be from 11:00-11:30, but we started at around 11:30…

and finished at 12:15. 

So we only had another 10 minutes for picture taking because we had to go back to the salon, change clothes, and quickly go to the RECEPTION.

As far as I remember, we made it to the venue at exactly 1:00 pm.  By that time, everyone had been waiting for us inside the hall. 

The party started at exactly 1:15 pm, and it lasted for two hours, which is pretty standard because we also allot time for the nijikai or the AFTER-PARTY. 

At 3:20 pm , everyone started moving to the Karaoke bar.

We sang our hearts out from 3:30 to 6:00 pm. Then, my family went back to our hotel. It’s also where the reception was held.

Anyway, after everything, you know, I realized that there was actually not enough time to take pictures with the guests from the ceremony to the after-party because of the short time interval, but aside from that, it was a stress-free and easy wedding.  All we did was go with the flow and have fun.

But certainly, there were things that had to be discussed and agreed on:

1. In a traditional Shinto wedding, only the families of the couple attend the ceremony, but I wanted my friends to be there too, so my husband, Susumu, agreed to open it to everyone invited. In other words, my friends did not just party with us.  They took part in the ceremony as well, which was great!

2. My local and foreign friends planned and organized the wedding party, so we had wedding singers, which a usual Japanese wedding reception won’t have.  They don’t really play live music, but we had a band and they even brought their own instruments.  Also, Susumu and his friends also sang. That was really fun.

3. Instead of a wedding video about us, we just showed a slideshow of our pictures in the background, and we played games during the wedding party like the newlywed game, and we also had a quiz, which everyone participated in. Of course, games are something that wouldn’t exist in a traditional reception but this was our way of letting our audience know more about us like  the things we enjoy doing together, our engagement, the number of children we would like to have etc.

4. Our wedding dance.  Initially, Susumu didn’t want to dance, but I eventually swayed him to do it.  He told me that a Japanese wedding is very formal, the couple wouldn’t sing nor dance, but I couldn’t do that.  I like being involved, so we practiced a simple dance the day before the wedding.  It wasn’t perfect, but we enjoyed it.

5. The guests were so game.  Most of them joined us on the dance floor though there’s usually no dancing at a Japanese Wedding reception.

6. Susumu’s father and mother gave separate speeches.  My Japanese friends were very surprised because it rarely happens. Only the dads give speeches during weddings, so what we did was very unique. In fact, his mom’s speech was very heartwarming, and everyone was touched. I almost cried, but I stopped myself because I didn’t want to mess up my makeup. Anyhow, I know you would agree with me when I say that moms also have a voice, and they too, need to be heard. ;-) 

7. Lastly, my Aikido friends had a 5-minute exhibition of the basic stuff that a beginner learns. Again, not usually happening in a formal occasion like this. But my A friends are really passionate about it, and we wanted to share and promote it to everyone. After all, it’s the ART OF PEACE, and it is something that we definitely want to have in our lives.

There you have it!

My husband and I made sure that our wedding was a compromise between two people. It was very important for us to hold a party that respected each others cultures, and at the same time showed our very own personalities.

A Surprise Bridal Shower

Last Sunday, April 14, my friends threw me a surprise bridal shower. I thought we were just going take pictures for my wedding video. That’s why I went shopping for clothes the day before the party.

Come Sunday, I was scheduled to meet up with two friends at the Shokusai Market nearby. It is an establishment that serves lots of seafood, and it’s a great place for lunch. Anyway, when we got there, the first thing that we did was go to the toilet, change clothes and put on makeup. Since it was 1:00 pm, and we were already hungry, we agreed to eat at the Fish and Chips restaurant on the second floor before the “photo shoot”. And so we went up, and I when I opened the door, I saw 30 people, including my fiance inside the restaurant.

Of course, I was overwhelmed; I felt so many positive emotions, and I did not know what to say. I couldn’t believe it at first because most of them drove approximately one and a half hour to be there. It’s just amazing, how they went out of their way to make me feel special.

So what did we do during the party?

We played four games.

The first one is… PIN THE VEIL ON THE BRIDE

They printed pictures of me, glued them on a cardboard and three people with their eyes closed tried to pin the veil that they are holding on to the picture assigned to them.


Third, we did… THE DATING GAME

We divided 30 people into four groups, and they were given 20 minutes to plan and dress up one of their teammates. They had to come up with a wedding gown that they want me to wear on my wedding day.

My task was to interview four people without knowing who they really are. So I was facing the audience and they were all seated behind me. I asked the same questions for all them. For example, (a) imagine that you were a car, sell yourself to me, (b) if you were an underwear, what would you be, (c) what would be our couples Halloween costume? All of them tried hard to change their voice, and they were very successful. I even thought some women were boys.

Lastly, there was a PIÑATA. It was a huge red heart, and it was a bit hard to break so I had to ask for my fiance’s help to smash it.

Overall, it was a pretty laid-back and fun party. I had so much fun, and I can’t thank everyone enough for the overflowing love that they showed me.

2 become 1

Welcome to The Ashinas!

I’m Heidi, from Manila, Philippines. I used to teach English at a college in my home country, but my itchy feet brought me to Bali, Indonesia where I worked as a primary school teacher at an international school for four years. After this stint, I was sent by the Japan Embassy in Manila (JET Programme) to where I live now, Ishikawa, to serve as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) to two public high schools located at the Noto Peninsula.

These days, I’m making plans for my upcoming wedding, which is on May 12. Some of my family members and friends are flying all the way from Manila and Bangkok for it. Although we are just gonna have a small and simple ceremony and celebration, I’m really looking forward to it. Aside from preparing for the big day, I am also trying to eat healthy because my fiancé, a Japanese national, and I have a baby on the way. You could just imagine how excited we are about our new life together with our little one. My partner is 38, and I’m turning 33 in a few months, and we both think that now is the best time for us to start our own family.

So what inspired me to start blogging?

Of course, the Japanese culture and our simple life in the countryside. I just really think that there’s more to Japan than just Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, and life in rural Japan is a story worth telling too.

I hope that reading articles here will be useful for you!