Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Second Lion's Club Party

I'm sorry this has taken so long, and I know its about two weeks old now, but here you go!

The 23rd marked the day of my second Lion’s Party and, as with the last one, it was very plush and elegant. I will be the first to say that I love taxi rides as opposed to the train for the simple fact that I don’t like having to walk to and from the station and wonder about how many people I’m going to have to shove through to get to the exit and if I can do it before the doors close. So, after I got dressed up in my black Hawaiian Moo Moo that my host mom bought be on their recent trip, we all three got in a Taxi and made for Roppongi Hills, to the Roppongi Hills tower to be exact, entering through the elaborate covered garage that we’d gone through before on the Host Club Hato Bus tour. Instead of dining at the Hyatt, however, the Lion’s Club had reserved an elite, members only club dining area on the 52nd floor of the tower that overlooks the west side of Tokyo. However, before gaining entrance to the dining area, my host father signed us in and we were all given one bingo card and a ticket which would gain us admittance to the Mori Art museum (yes, there’s an art museum at the top of the mall), and the ‘Sky Deck.’ Not being a particular lover of art museums (and hardly an afficienado), we decided to forego that adventure and head straight for the sky deck.

Because the wind can be a force, and to assure that you don’t drop anything, the people waiting before the elevator to check your ticket tells you to stow all things but a camera in the lockers right there, which we did and then boarded the elevator. I’m not sure for certain what floor the roof is, but I’d guess somewhere around 56 if asked. The elevator lets you out into a pathway covered on all sides by white metal poles, a cage like sort of area that is reminiscent of those things that hold laser lights above the stage at concerts. My host dad said it reminded him of the sort of place Jack Bauer would have a shootout in “24,” and I couldn’t deny it. We went up a metal staircase and were standing on the very top of the Roppongi Hills tower, right beside the Helipad, and, after walking around the edge (don’t worry, not the real edge), we could look off in the sunshine toward Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge, the going a little further, we were looking down on Tokyo Tower, not far away. Then there was the Tokyo Dome and far in the distance, the Tokyo Sky Tree, which is still under construction but is going to be the highest building in Tokyo. Attempting to get a shot of the Helipad itself, I turned around the opposite way and lo and behold, to my shock and surprise, in the pink-tinted clouds nearing sunset, was the top of Mount Fuji, standing tall and majestic. Everyone, my party and the emerging Lions members all scurried around the fringe to the other side where we spent most of the rest of our time gazing contentedly at the beauty of Mount Fuji (though, much to my frustration, my camera wouldn’t get it in focus) If you click on this picture and make it bigger, you can sort of see Mt. Fuji there.

We had hoped to see Tokyo at sunset, but unfortunately, the dinner was set to start before, so we were all reluctantly herded back down the metal staircase, into the waiting elevator, and then issued into the plush dining area where we would spend the rest of our evening. We were seated at table C, by the windows, in clear sight of the projector screen, the podium and the large Lions banner that hung listlessly over in the corner, suspended by a gold, metal stand. There was a speech by some bigwig to start things off, and as dinner began being served, someone at the front started a slideshow, though most of the tables, ours included, ignored it almost completely, preferring to eat and chat instead. Myself, I only caught a few points of the powerpoint, namely the shots of the men planting rice in rice paddies, and then a talk which my host dad did at certain middle schools, warning of the dangers of drugs.

For dinner we had red wine and white wine, rolls of two kinds, and several courses. The first course was scallops and Canadian lobster with vegetables and salad which was good, but I’m not a big lobster fan. Next was a slice of daikon (Japanese radish) under foi gras, and this was, by far, the best dish of the evening (it tasted like a strange but delicious combination of scrambled eggs, bacon fat and popcorn). Then there was sirloin steak with a potato and pesto croquette and some vegetables, and then desert was fruit with an ice cream/whipped cream thing. After that was served and devoured, everyone got settled for a round of bingo and I won sometime around the middle. Going up to the podium, I was told to select from a large collection of mysterious white paper tote bags, and upon opening mine, one seated safely at my table, I found that I’d won an electric teapot, which I actually use quite a bit, it turns out. After that, the lady who was at the last party, the one who sings the theme song for Miyazaki’s “Totoro” movie got up and did a speech, basically announcing that she had a concert coming up and inviting everyone to come. But she did sing the Totoro song, which was cool, but wasted on me, as I’m not anything close to an Anime person.

After that, the men were called up one by one to introduce themselves and their families, and then present a small box to their wives as a way of thanking them for all their hard work raising kids and taking care of the men themselves. When my host father’s turn came, my host mom dragged me up front with them too, saying I was a daughter so I had to be introduced, which was my dad saying, “This is Rebecca, an exchange student who’s staying with us for the year. She’s perfect with Japanese, here say something.” Then he shoved the mic at me, catching me completely off guard, and all I could think to say was “Yoroshiku Onegaiitashimasu” (a pleasantry often said in Japan which more or less means, ‘I’m in your care/Please after me’). Then he presented not only my host mom, but myself as well, with one of these mysterious little boxes. Naturally, as soon as I’d gotten back to my seat, I opened it to reveal a crystal box, about the size of a ring box, and inside was a tiny, preserved purple rose with a Swarovski crystal stuck on it. Not bad, huh?

That was really more or less the evening. A lot of the time was spent chatting to the other people at the table, and then at the end we all stood up and gave the ‘Lion’s roar’ which is a sort of cheer for the club, then we broke apart and left by taxi. The thought I was left with from the evening was how very much I want to marry a super rich person so that I can always do stuff like that.

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