Before I even get started I should mention that my digital camera has broken due to excessive rain on my backpack, and while I obviously plan on replacing it as soon as possible I want to make sure I research it enough and pick out the right model first. If anyone out there has any recommendations I’d really appreciate them – the one I’m leaning towards is the Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital ELPH/Digital IXUS 50/IXY 55 (the name depends on what country you buy it in). It seems to be a pretty good compromise between screen size, battery life, overall size and weight, zoom, and image quality. Of course with an ultra-compact you won’t be getting all of those nifty manual controls, but for my purposes I don’t really need them – size and zoom are probably the most important. I was also looking at the Panasonic DMC-FX7 (which has much worse battery life but a beautiful screen and an anti-shake lens) and the Casio Exilim line.
Now, on to the juice. There has been altogether too much awesomeness as of late to even try to keep up with it all. To start off, as I mentioned I’ve finally moved in to YHM. Nothing could have prepared me for the increase in quality of life I’d experience here. The entire place is spotlessly clean and my room is at least twice the size of my room at Robins Nishikoji, with my own toilet and sink. They have a giant ofuro (Japanese-style bath) downstairs large enough for five people, a tatami room, and a huge common room where we have community dinners at 6:30 every night. And since the building is only two years old, all of their appliances are from the future: the clothes dryer (gigantic and free) doesn’t have a timer, it simply detects when the clothes are dry and stops; the stove is microwave-powered and is capable of boiling a pot of water in under 20 seconds. It even knows what TYPE of pan is on the burner and will beep a warning if you use a pan made of the wrong type of metal.
The future is now, people!
To celebrate the arrival of all the new students here at YHM we got a group of about 30 people together and went to Karaoke last night (hilarious) followed by a trip to Himeji Castle today.
“If you see no other castles in Japan you should at least make an effort to visit Himeji-jo, unanimously acclaimed as the most splendid castle still standing,” says Lonely Planet. So true.
Despite my rather hectic schedule I couldn’t help but throw together a short video of the outside of the castle along with the magnificent Taiko drummers providing free entertainment at the entrance, just to give you some idea of how amazing of a place Himeji-jo is. But then, I guess I pretty much say that about everywhere I go in this country, don’t I? Check out the video here.
And as if that wasn’t enough, tomorrow is the very beginning of the most anticipated festival of the entire year in Japan: Sakura. Everyone is getting up at 11:00 to go to Gion and see the geisha who will all be out in celebration of the cherry blossoms. Yes, this is going to be an awesome week.