Monday, January 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies: Another Epilogue

We had given a peanut butter cookie gift bag to our landlord (with whom we share almost no vocabulary, so it was difficult to explain who we were and why we showed up on his doorstep unannounced), but he had told us that it's difficult for him to leave the house, so we did our best to communicate that he needn't feel obligated to return a gift. Whether we didn't get that across very well or he still felt the cultural obligation or both, two women rang our doorbell the day before we left for Niigata for the new year with a reciprocating gift bag. I believe it was his wife and daughter, or maybe his wife and someone they knew, I'm not certain. Once again we were blown away by the generosity and touched by the effort that was put into putting it all together.

The pine branch came from a tree in their yard, and is for good luck in the new year, intended to be tied to the front gate. I'm not clear on the details of why or how this came about as a tradition, but I added some curled ribbon and tied it to the gate.

The yellow paper is an explanation of the 12-year zodiac cycle (2011 is the year of the usagi, or rabbit), and a handwritten note was included about candy, but I'm not sure which box (or if it refers to both). The heavy-looking jar is filled with orange marmalade, and un-photographed are some yellow sweet potatoes from some faraway part of Japan.

And I can't believe how detailed these (very small!) candies are.

ni hiki o usagi (two rabbits), a ram, and ushi (cow)...

dragon, boar, uma (horse), mouse...

um...caterpillar? Tiger, owl, niwatori (chicken)...

saru (monkey), and inu (dog).
I can't help but wonder how they're made, I've never seen candy that looks quite like that.

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