A Very Merry White Day


This past Wednesday, March 14, was White Day. And let me tell you, it is quite a fabulous day. This is how it goes in Japan:

On February 14, Valentine’s Day, women give chocolate to men. It doesn’t have to be someone they like – it can also be coworkers or other males in their lives.

One month later, on March 14, the men reciprocate, and give sweets to the women. This is called White Day. No, it does not mean that everything one receives on that day is white! Some of the sweets can be white, or are in white packages, but gifts this day can be any other color, too. See the link at the bottom of the page for more about the origins of the name!

This year, my boss asked us to make some treats to give to different men in our work circles – our male coworkers, the men who work in the kindergarten office, the kindergarten bus drivers, and several key people at the board of education and city hall. She also gave us chocolates to give them. We made some special trips to visit everyone, passing out sugary goodness along the way. It was a little nerve-wracking, especially when we had to go to city hall. However….

…on March 14, it was our turn! We got treats back from most of the people we had given gifts to, and in most cases, each of us four teachers got our own box. That means we got quite a pile of goodies! Most of it was cookies, as that seems to be the thing to give on White Day, but we also got cake, chocolates, and other snacks, all packaged beautifully in neatly wrapped and beribboned boxes.

Here’s a picture of what White Day looked like for us. It felt a little bit like Christmas!

The biggest box contained a variety of cake. Yum!

For those interested, I did a quick search and found more information about White Day, including how it got its name! Here’s the link: https://notesofnomads.com/white-day-japan/.

Happy White Day, everyone! Think it’s a tradition we can get started in America…?




Castles and Candles

Hello readers! I’m back with another episode of my winter adventures during our long weekend in February. I posted previously about the visit my teammate and I took to Ouchijuku, an Edo-period village. What I didn’t write about is where we we went afterward…

As I mentioned before, we had wandered around Ouchijuku for awhile, eaten lunch, climbed the snow-covered hill behind the village, and taken in some dance performances. Although we could have stayed for more activities, by mid-afternoon we both felt as though we had gotten our fill of the village. So we decided to hop back on the train and take a little detour (which was on our way home anyway) to the city of Aizu Wakamatsu. It just so happened that this particular weekend coincided with the city’s painted candle festival (read more about that here), so we decided to add to our repertoire of experiences for the day and go visit that as well.

After arriving in Aizu Wakamatsu, we took a bus to Tsuruga Castle. This was the castle we had visited in the fall, when our employers brought us for a visit after the samurai parade. This was a completely different experience, however – snow blanketed the ground, and the place was lit with the glow of hundreds of candles. It was a beautiful sight!

The side of the road leading to the castle was dotted with lanterns, each containing a candle:

Since I was ravenously hungry, our first stop was at a small food shop near the castle. I bought a stick of tempura manjuu (deep fried buns filled with sweet bean paste), which I promptly devoured. Let me tell you, if you haven’t tasted one of these skewered balls of crispy sweet goodness, you haven’t lived yet. AMAZING.

Next, we ventured up to the castle grounds, admiring the different kinds of lanterns that we saw. The field by the castle was full of them:

There was a display of creations representing different schools, which were also lit up (with candles, I presume, although I didn’t actually look in any of them).

The field was surrounded by a border of pretty fluted lanterns:

View of the castle from the far side of the field:

As we wandered around, we also discovered a small area that was filled with punched metal lanterns. This was one of my favorite displays – the handiwork on the lanterns was exquisite!

After taking in the sights at the castle, we waited for what seemed an excessively long time for a bus to take us back to the train station. I tried not to freeze to death as I clutched my kairo, or heating pack. They have an abundance of these self-heating packs over here – just bend them back and forth, and they give off heat! They may have them in America, too, but I’ve never used them there. Anyway…eventually, the bus did come, and we managed to make all our train connections and arrive safely back home before it got indecently late. Even though we’d had hours of commuting time for just a day trip, we’d visited the historic village of Ouchijuku, eaten hot soba and delicious fried manju, and seen the beauty of Tsuruga Castle in the candlelight. Not a bad way to spend a winter weekend!