Oshogatsu at Japanese Embassy

As if we did not have enough o-sechi to eat back in Japan, today we got more!

After the much bigger year end party in December, now we were invited to a smaller gathering at the Japanese Embassy.

Couple of fun things though:

When I asked Ritsu what the dress code was, she was not sure and we both speculated the reception might be held outside, in nice, summer-y weather, thus it must be ‘smart casual’. Only when we were in the car did she check the invitation more thoroughly, it indicated that men have to wear a TIE!

So we had to ask the driver (Anton, skilled driver, but not the best command of the English language) to turn around, we rushed back home, and no way I could just add a neck tie to my loose fitting linen shirt, I needed another shirt … and other pants .. so, basically a complete change in 2 minutes. Quickly we were back on track and we rushed towards our destination. Or did we?

The office driver declared with a huge smile that now we had arrived at the THAI Embassy! We were very puzzled and not until much later Ritsu had a light-bulb-moment that explained the whole confusion was based on the phonetical similarity of Thai and (neck)tie!

We arrived at the Japanese Embassy about 15 minutes late and they were already at giving speeches. In Japanese … and Japanese only!

The other thing that Ritsu did not tell me until now was that this event was for JAPANESE (and their spouses) only. Turns out that there are a few Sri Lankans married to Japanese, but I was apparently the only white guy in the room. (I also would have stuck out like a sore thumb with my earlier ‘smart casual’ get up).

Food was lovely and as expected, there was some chit chat (but we did not see any of our friends we usually encounter at these events). And just before leaving we had a brief chat with the ambassador himself … which was a bit awkward, as he very quickly seemed to ignore Ritsu and instead only talked to me (in English). Could be he wanted to be polite and be nice to the ‘lost’ white guy, but we suspect that it has more to do with Ritsu’s gender and that some of the old school Japanese gentlemen have a difficult time accepting powerful young ladies in their ranks.

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