The wedding was not until the afternoon on Saturday, so I had some time to kill in the morning. I decided to head out in search of Starbucks some kind of cardigan or shawl for the dress I was wearing to the wedding. When I was packing I thought that I would be fine with the dress, but I was starting to get a little worried I would be chilly. Shopping proved unsuccessful, but I was able to waste a few hours. I headed back to my hotel to get ready. The wedding was a bit of a train-transfer-train ride away, but one I was prepared for. I brought wore my Toms on the way and brought my heels in my bag. By the time I made it to the wedding hall, I was a little sweaty, but that is sort of the expected state for one existing in Tokyo in late May.
I had made a point of being a little later to arrive than I normally would be and my plan more or less worked. I was definitely not the first person there. After checking my big bag (and shoes) at the coat check, I scanned the room for anyone I knew. I knew one person. I locked on and went straight for her. And that was the start of the day of Surprisingly Social Jodi. I chatted, I joked, I made new Facebook friends. All in all, a social success. I even struck up a conversation with a few people waiting in the same lines as me.
The ceremony was sweet, short, and to the point. Cherri is first generation American and her husband, Eric, is Korean, so I was expecting an interesting mix of cultures throughout the event. I was definitely not disappointed. The ceremony was conducted in English and Japanese and was beautiful. Probably one of the highlights was Eric going to kiss Cherri but Cherri was laughing too hard for it to work. I am not normally one to get emotional at things like weddings, but as I get older I’m noticing it happens more and more often. I couldn’t help but get a little teary eyed at how happy Cherri and Eric looked.
After the ceremony, we moved upstairs to the reception hall. I was seated at a table with the other people from our university, including our former Japanese native speaker (kind of like an assistant teacher) and my JET/ Drake University Japanese senpai (senior student) who I had connected with on Facebook but never actually met. I did not have much to eat, but I had a great time talking with everyone.
During the reception, Cherri had the traditional bouquet toss, but with a slight twist. Instead of actually throwing the bouquet, she threw a small teddy bear. I believe her sister caught it. After that, it was the guys’ turn. Eric, the groom, threw a head of broccoli to them, but it took three tries for anyone to catch it. The first time, one of guys intercepted the broccoli and smacked it to the ground. The second time, it ended up going across the room (somehow) and the M.C. picked it up. Finally, on the third try, one of the guys actually grabbed it.
Between the reception and the after party, we had a few hours to kill, so I suggested heading to a café (like Starbucks) to waste the time and sit for a bit. While we were all milling about outside on the sidewalk trying to organize ourselves enough to go, I noticed another woman just standing around, clearly unsure where to go. So, I invited her along. In our, now smaller (because most people from our table couldn’t attend the after party), group, we headed off to Starbucks. It turns out that the new non-Drake addition to our group is also a JET and she knew Cherri from high school. We had a good time getting to know each other before it was time to find the karaoke location.
By that point in the evening, however, I decided that it was time to make some new friends. So I slipped away from the group I had been hanging out with and, instead, spent some time with one of the people I knew from earlier. In the end, I spent most of the karaoke party with a bunch of people from Iowa who knew Cherri from high school.
When the party finally ended, I knew I needed to get some food in me or face the consequences come the next morning. My friend, Ayaka, kindly offered to help me find both the train station and some food. After the first McDonalds she swore was just around the corner, wasn’t, we were desperate. We were talking loudly (I was loudly complaining about how hungry I was and she was laughing at my plight) as we wandered around the area. We were speaking mostly in English, probably attracting a lot of attention in the process. I saw one man listening to our conversation as he walked towards a taxi. At some point, I switched into Japanese and complained loudly about how hungry I was (in Japanese). The man listening was so surprised he ended up walking into the side of the taxi.
We finally found a burger place through dumb luck. The sign boasted 100% beef, so I was more than happy to eat there. We spent a while just chatting and eating, which was nice. Ayaka had been an exchange student at Drake my sophomore year of college, when I was just starting to study Japanese, but we had never really hung out. This was the first time I had a chance to get to know her one on one. Eventually we made our way to the train station, said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.
I got back to the hotel sometime after midnight. Happy, full of burgers, and exhausted.