A Japanese-ish Seder

The first night of Passover happened to be on a Monday (when I normally meet with my conversation group) so way back in February I had a crazy idea: Maybe I can try to host a Passover seder for the first time.  (A quick explanation for my non-Jewish friends: a seder is a special meal that happens on the first, and sometimes second as well depending on what level of Judaism you practice, night of Passover.  It can last anywhere from an hour to several hours, depending on how much you read or what other extra activities you do.  Some people have songs and games.)

At the time I was assuming I could pick up some things from home.  I thought I would have time while in the States to get the things I would need for my seder.  Unfortunately with my crazy schedule, seder prep fell by the wayside.  I did manage to buy some matzah, but, for a variety of reasons, it had to be shipped and the box didn’t arrive until the day after Passover ended.

So I had to be creative.  After several trips to the grocery store with my Japanese dictionary app, this is what the seder plate looked like:

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The “hard” boiled egg (I didn’t learn until later that I suck and hard boiling in a normal pot), parsley, lettuce, a bone cut out from construction paper, and charoset, made with only a little cinnamon and no wine.

An ALT from down south, Michael, made the drive all the way up to where I live just for the seder.  He even brought a friend, which was awesome.  I always like meeting more people.  Anyway, so they arrived early and generously offered to go make copies of the hagadah (the sederr book) while I finished getting the table ready.

Complete with cups of salt water with a "do not drink" warning written on them.

Complete with cups of salt water with a “do not drink” warning written on them.

 

Soon enough the other members started arriving.  Other than Aya, the CIR from Nobeoka, all of the other guests were from my conversation group.

Not pictured, Michael and his friend who had gone to move his car.

Not pictured, Michael and his friend who had gone to move his car.

Everyone brought some food.  Aya brought salad, Michael brought a creative kugel, and I made maple syrup chicken.  There was also an awesome cheesecake, marmalade, some salmon, a flour-less chocolate cake, and I know I’m missing something else, but it was all just such a blur of delicious food.  I also made some charoset:

Normally a mixture of a lot of cinnamon, wine, walnuts, some sugar, and apples.  This time I cut down on the cinnamon to account for Japanese tastes and switched the wine for grape juice because people had to drive home.  (And Japan is incredibly strict about alcohol.)

Normally a mixture of a lot of cinnamon, wine, walnuts, some sugar, and apples. This time I cut down on the cinnamon to account for Japanese tastes and switched the wine for grape juice because people had to drive home. (And Japan is incredibly strict about alcohol.)

At Michael’s request, we had an afikomen hunt.  I didn’t have an actual afikomen, so I improvised.

Pretty sure it tastes just like the real thing.

Pretty sure it tastes just like the real thing.

One of my conversation club members, Tomoko, found it not once, but twice.  (I had to rehide it because apparently the first time was too easy.)  I gave her one of the Iowa State Capitol magnets I brought with me as a prize.  I was going to give her some American money, since that’s normally the prize (well, like a small amount of money in general.  Like a buck or two) but I couldn’t remember where I had put it.

It was a long night, but everyone said they had a good time.  I’m actually looking forward to trying again next year, but I know exactly what I’ll need to fix.

I was even able to to keep Passover for a few days before it got too hard to do.  With no matzah and no rice, my body started yelling at me for some carbs.  Still, I did my best and I’m really glad I was able to do the seder, especially since I couldn’t keep Passover as long as I wanted to.  Next year will definitely be better.  Hopefully I can invite more people for the seder too.

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Passover bentos.

Passover bentos.

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