Alright, I believe I finally got all of the kinks out of this new site layout. No more problems out there? Please? 🙂
So, another week has passed, another list of awesomeness to tell. First, the upcoming visitor plans have been unfolding quite nicely. It looks like David (one of my closest friends from my fraternity back home) will be making his way out to Japan in two weeks, and then my dad at the beginning of September. The dad plans are still way up in the air, but it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll not only be traveling a good portion of Japan (i.e. Hokkaido) with the unlimited shinkansen pass, but also spending a week over in China (Beijing and Shanghai)! Huzzuh. Er, probably.
Wait, now that I think about it, if you guys are reading a blog about Japan, could it be that you have some experience over here? If so, and if you have any recommendations on where we should go, good transportation methods, etc, I’m all ears. We’ll have a 7 day shinkansen pass, so I figure we’ll head up to Hokkaido, spend 3 or 4 days there, and then head back down to Kyoto stopping at a few places along the way (Aomori, Takayama, Tokyo, etc). If anyone has any input, please let me know – I don’t know anything about Northern Japan besides what I’ve read in my guidebooks!
Now, on to this week. One thing that I’m learning more and more about Japan is that it’s not just the sakura that are short-lived, it’s everything. The plantlife, animals, climate, even foods all change so rapidly that if you don’t know exactly where to go and when, you’ll miss your only chance of the year. The availability of Japanese sweets changes almost weekly. Likewise, fireflies are only viewable for less than a week, and that week is now. Once the big rains start, they will have disappeared for an entire year.
So, being the awesome teacher that she is (did I mention that we have the coolest teachers ever?) this Thursday Tayama Sensei invited us to her house to look for fireflies and for dinner. One of the many advantages of being in a class with a total of four students is that these types of things are possible. So myself, Dylan, Shivanna, Hidy, Brian (Dylan’s visitor from the states), Tayama Sensei, and Kusunoki Sensei met up at the Kyoto International House, walked around Nanzenji for a bit, went looking for fireflies (total number spotted: one) and returned to Tayama’s for a feast of home-made sushi, scallop salad, champagne, and wine. Yes, drinking with teachers is always awesome. Especially when Tayama laughs herself to tears. And when we get to hear Kusunoki sensei speak English (hot). I didn’t have my camera with me, but Shivana did so hopefully I’ll be able to get a hold of some pictures sometime soon…
After dinner we rode our bikes home in the usual way, doing a quick double-take when we caught a glimpse of a man crossing the street nearby Yasaka Jinja. But this was no ordinary man. This man was fully dressed in kimono, a top-knot, with two swords hanging from his belt. Samurai. Just cruisin’ around, lookin’ for some heads to bust. Thankfully, he did not select our heads, so all of them continue to remain intact.
Then today, as per usual, I headed out towards Starbucks for some vocab study, and as per usual, became tempted to take a “quick” detour to see what I could see. What did I find? RICE PADDIES! And a whooooole lot of them. And a gigantic pond with a nice old man fishing for shrimp. In fact, a whole area of Kyoto that I didn’t even know existed, less than ten (that’s right, ten) minutes from here by bike.
Unfortunately the day was completely overcast so my pictures didn’t come out quite as lively as I would have liked, but I did the best I could.
And at last, the big party has arrived. The guys in the hall here have been working really hard to put on a “kokusai kouryuu paatii” (“International Exchange Party”) with the original intent of raising money for a trip to Okinawa. I don’t think the income was quite enough to cover such a trip, but the party was definitely a hit – they managed to fill up the shokudou with tons of both foreign students and Japanese. Well done, fellas.
Because I haven’t yet received the pictures from the party either, I’ve provided this one instead. Pictured is my hallway and its inhabitants after a long day of class. If you knew me from back home, it should be no challenge to pick me out of the crowd. (Hint: I don’t like shirts.)
And, now it is now. Although I have another test on Tuesday, I decided to say screw it and head down to Osaka for a bit of fun tomorrow night – I haven’t been down there in way too long (I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but my previous plans fell through at the last minute).
Ah, Osaka. We meet again.