My apologies for the lack of updates recently; I’ve been extremely busy these last few months, and (although I’d love to say otherwise) that’s not something likely to change anytime soon. While glancing back at some previous posts I realized it’s now been over 16 weeks since I’ve managed to write anything in the real time. Perhaps that’s just how it’ll have to be as long as I’m working in this long-hours Japanese company…
In any case, here comes yet another way overdue catch-up post!
After my action-packed trip to Tokyo for New Year’s, life pretty much went back to normal – working all week, partying on weekends, regular trips to the gym, and trying to keep up with a number of personal projects on the side. Project #1 was the code revamp of this site, followed by another website I’ve started building for Dean. As of about 1 month ago, I also decided to make a real effort to get back into studying Japanese on a daily basis. Although I’ve been in Japan for nearly six months, work has kept me so busy/tired that I’ve been completely neglecting one of the main reasons I’m here. But not anymore. From now on I’m setting my goal at around 20 new words a day, and so far it’s been going quite well. I found that getting started was all I needed to re-awaken that passion for learning that mysteriously faded away along with most of my free time 😛
I’ve also taken a few day trips on bike as training for an eventual ride to Tokyo, which have so far included an 80km trip around the Southern part of Lake Biwa and a 75km trip to a beautiful little town called Miyama in the mountains just North of here. My original intention was to make the big ride over Golden Week (a bunch of consecutive national holidays), but it’s looking more and more like I’ll be abandoning that date for a variety of reasons. Hopefully I can make it before the full force of Japan’s summer humidity sets in though. We’ll see how things pan out.
Oh yeah, and I finally have my very own internet connection setup at my apartment! After just three and a half months of waiting, I’m feeling the wonderful liberation of being able to call my friends and family (via Vonage) or watch American TV (via a Slingbox) without having pack up and ride to the public library or Starbuck’s.
…And without dangling a pile of electrical tape off my balcony, adjusting it to just the right spot…
…Because after about two months of waiting I finally got so sick of not being able to check my e-mail that I decided to build a temporary makeshift WiFi antenna – so I bought a USB receiver, several lengths of USB extension cable and a repeater, electrical tape, and saran wrap (for insulation). By hanging the contraption off my balcony and positioning it just perfectly I managed to grab a signal from a nearby building, which I then routed through a laptop and into a Vonage telephone. It worked well enough, but wasn’t particularly fast, and anytime a gust of wind came and shifted the cable I’d have to go outside and spend 20 minutes getting it back to that perfect spot. But hey, it still beats camping out on the roof in the cold of winter!
Of course, the major event in the last few months was my recent trip to LA and San Francisco for GDC, both of which were very refreshing and very enlightening. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, about my job, life, where I’m at, where I want to be, and I think that the quick back-and-forth between countries did a lot to help clear things up.
But that’s a whole, long topic by itself which I’ll save for another post.
Back here in Kyoto springtime has finally come – and it rolled in shockingly fast, as always. At the start of last week the weather was snow and hail, but today I’m writing from under a cherry tree and a clear blue sky wearing a thin T-shirt and jeans. I celebrated the arrival on Wednesday (a national holiday – for the first day of Spring) with a leisurely bikeride up the Kamogawa riverfront where I ran into a group of acquaintances I’d met at a bar several weeks earlier. Because I was still getting over a pretty bad sickness I didn’t join their soccer game, but it was a very pleasant afternoon nevertheless.
And speaking of random run-ins, I’ve been realizing more and more how freakishly common they are here in Japan. Maybe it has something to do with being the world’s most densely populated country. But whatever the case may be, I can’t seem to go anywhere without running into someone I know these days! On the plus side, this makes it quite easy to develop a great social network in relatively little time; you meet someone at a bar, see them in a park a week later, go for a bite to eat, etc. I even made a new friend through this website, a reader who recognized my face at a club in Osaka almost exactly as I’d recognized SushiJeff just two weeks before. It was the same night that I ran into the ex-girlfriend of a Ritsumeikan roommate, and the same event through which I met the girl who interviewed me for Face of the Month on Why Not Japan. The world really is a much smaller place than it sometimes seems.
…And speaking of SushiJeff, he dropped by Kyoto this weekend, so we met up for a brief tour of some of Kyoto’s lesser-known destinations. This led to beer, of course, which in turn led to an all-nighter at Sam & Dave’s with a couple of friendly Australian tourists out for their last evening in Kyoto. It also led to lots of photography and photography-related discussions. And to my recent purchase of a Nikon D40 – my first step into the world of Digital SLR. My motivation to go out and take pictures has really been stagnating lately, and I’m hoping that this long-anticipated purchase will help to revive that stagnation.
Then on Sunday I finally reunited with Kusunoki Sensei, the awesomest teacher to ever exist, along with Dylan, Stuart, and Keir at a traditional wedding in an Arashiyama Shinto shrine. And just when I thought the weekend was over, the guys invited me to a Yoshida Brothers concert in Otsu. Obviously I went, and obviously it kicked ass.
Now I’ve just got one more work week to get through before my dad comes to visit on Friday, arriving right on time for the start of the cherry blossoms. He’s a tough guy for flying halfway around the world so soon after a total knee replacement, but even if we can’t be as active as usual it’ll still be really nice to see him.
So yeah, I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I’ll most likely be that way for awhile. But I’ll keep trying to keep you guys up-to-date. As I said I’ve really had a lot on my mind lately, much of which I’d like to share with you sooner or later, but if I’m gonna start waking up at 6am now that it’s warm enough to do so, I’ve got to start getting to sleep earlier!
P.S. This post took a week longer to get up than I expected, so the dates referred to were actually 2 weekends ago…and my dad’s already here!
Ja, until next time**