As I’ve mentioned, these past weeks have been very very busy as I try to get my life here sorted out as thoroughly as possible. So let’s add in a bit more, shall we? My brand new laptop crashed (er, Windows did…surprise, surprise!) and forced me to spend four days of lunch-breaks reformatting and reinstalling. As soon as I got everything fixed up, I got sick…for the third time in two months. I don’t think I’ve ever been sick this many times in such a short period. Perhaps I’m pushing myself too hard? Perhaps my body isn’t used to winter actually being cold? Perhaps working until 7:00pm or later every day doesn’t leave me any room to breathe? 😛
But enough about that. Time to catch up on a month of no blog posts (in highly abbreviated form).
Starting off six weekends ago, I headed down to Takatsuki (a city conveniently located halfway between Kyoto and Osaka) to visit Yano and his wife at their new home. Yano is one of a handful of people who I never told about my plans to come back to Japan – instead, I intended on showing up one day out of the blue and completely surprising him. Unfortunately, his recent purchase of a new house meant that I’d be unlikely to find my way there on my own, so I eventually gave in and told him over the phone. That’s alright, he was still pretty shocked to find out that I was talking to him from 25 minutes away instead of 25 hours. And his wife nearly jumped out of her slippers when she came home from work to find me sitting in her livingroom watching TV 😉
(Note 1: Recall that we do not wear shoes indoors in Japan. Which is why she jumped out of her slippers instead of her shoes.)
(Note 2: I didn’t actually succeed in surprising anyone with my arrival – somehow news of my return spread so far that a number of Rits students who I’d never even heard of decided to approach me at this year’s Halloween party and ask “Hey, are you the old student who’s now back here making Nintendo games??” Cool! :))
After catching up a bit with Yano and his wife (in their very large livingroom with a frightening large TV – man, what an improvement over their old apartment) we headed out for a great sushi dinner and a brief lesson in American-style beer shotgunning.
I love teaching the Japanese how to shotgun beers. Partially because I’m vain and love the chorus of “sugooooi” (awesooome) that invariably follows my finishing a can before they’ve gotten down gulp number one. And partially because doing it is just plain fun. Usually. This time, they were so surprised by the concept that they asked me for a second demonstration just moments after the first. And of course, being the fool that I am, I nearly exploded my stomach obliging them.
But all in all good times were had, and it was wonderful to catch up with an old friend.
OK, fast forward two weeks. Dylan and his girlfriend Heather came to stay with me for Ritsfest weekend. They showed up at 10am on Saturday morning…about thirty minutes after I’d gone to sleep from the night before. Apparently. I was still so hammered that I could barely comprehend why they were unfolding a futon on the floor of my still empty apartment. I guess that’s what barhopping on Kiyamachi from 1am until 9am will do to you. Dylan especially seemed to enjoy our interesting conversation about Vectors and Spaces…something about how my hangover-space was intersecting with their visit-vector and resulting in a cross-product of headache. Or something. Oh well, at least I made the title of one of his recent blog posts 😉
Many hours later (after locating my long lost buddy named Sobriety) I met back up with Dylan and Heather who had already joined Stuart and Keir (of YHM). Of course we started right off with dinner at the always wonderful Jumbo Okonomiyaki.
As a quick reminder, if anyone out there comes to visit Kyoto you WILL visit Jumbo Okonomiyaki. If you don’t know how to get there, e-mail me. I’ll be happy to give you directions.
After Jumbo came several hours of Karaoke…but due to the throat-rasp resulting from the previous night’s antics I refrained from singing, instead sitting quietly in awe of Stuart’s beautiful rendition of “Under The Tim”…sung to the tune of “Under The Sea.”
Then I went to sleep. Then I woke up. Then I went to RITS FEST!!
Sadly, this year’s rainy weather put a bit of a damper on the overall feeling of the festival (for me at least), and since I’m trying to catch up with these posts I’ll just take the lazy way out and refer you back to my previous description of Rits Fest. If you haven’t read it, do so – the weather may have sucked this year, but that doesn’t mean that Rits Fest isn’t still the coolest thing since Jack Baur!
Fast forward one more week. I finally decided to get out and see the Momiji (Autumn maple leaves). Momiji, much like Sakura (cherry blossoms) is just one of those things that can’t be missed…and as they had been in full force for nearly two weeks, this would likely be my last chance to see them. So just like when I was still a student, I stuffed my camera, a map of Kyoto, my laptop, and an extra jacket into my backpack and headed out. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve taken any pictures in bad weather (that’s what happens when you spend 22 years in Southern California…) so most of the shots came out a bit “meh,” but the sights themselves were, as always, magnificent.
Here is a short video of my attempt to negotiate a bicycle through the tremendous Arashiyama crowds with a digital camera in one hand. Yeehaw.
After spending the better part of a day riding around and exploring (and coincidentally ending up on the same Takano hiking trail that I stumbled upon back in May of 2005 – check out how different the bridge in the third photo looks in the Spring vs the Fall), I decided to head home.
But not before stopping on the way to splurge the last of my precious yens on some lingering household necessities – a soap dish, a couple of picture frames, and the like. The next day (27th) was at last payday, after 8 months of living out of my savings…and my bank account was eagerly awaiting the fill-up.
In reality payday wasn’t until the 31st. Where I got the idea that I’d be paid on the 27th still remains a mystery, but misunderstanding or not I had just left myself with exactly 231 yen to get through the next five days. I’ve lived on a tight budget before, but this has got to be some kind of record. Thank God I had a fridge full of food that I could live off of during the interim. 🙂
And the next weekend – my first trip out of Kyoto since arriving in Japan!
But that I’ll save for next time.