Yay! I just got home after finishing a long-dreaded test and speech in Japanese! Time to SLEEEPPP 🙂
But first, a quick update for you, my loyal readers, regarding the most recent happenings in my always exciting life in Japan.
1) Saturday: Amy, Alex and Myself rode our bikes to Doshisha University for a dinner reception held in honor of the recipients of the Bridging Scholarship in the Kansai area. Fun was had by all, much free food was eaten by all, and several Japanese friends were made.
2) Sunday: The Aoi Matsuri. One thing that I love about the constant matsuri here in Japan is that they always remain interesting because each holds something new and unique – a giant dragon being carried down the steps of Kiyomizu Dera, fast-paced horseback archery, monks carrying huge burning torches, etc. The Aoi Matsuri, one of Kyoto’s three most important, was essentially a long procession of traditionally-clad men and women riding horses and carrying floats through the city. The costumes and floats were awesome, however it was a bit too crowded for my taste, and to be honest I prefer the more action-packed festivals than a slow walking procession. Still, there is something to be said for the fact that they’ve been upholding this tradition without fail for the last ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED years. Now that’s what I call history.
3) Monday: Ninnaji. Before our regularly scheduled class, a number of students met up with Tayama sensei (our grammar teacher) at the gates of Ninnaji (the huge temple between here and the Ritsumeikan campus – see the post on 4/22 for a picture outside the entrance) for an ikebana exhibit. Because there are so many other fabulous temples and shrines in Kyoto, and Ninnaji charges admission, I’ve never actually gone all the way inside – only into the outer courtyard. But today Tayama sensei managed to work out free admission to both the temple and the ikebana exhibit. Wow. If you’re ever around here, I’d highly recommend paying the admission. It’s awesome.
What is Ikebana, you ask?
“Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Ikebana is more than simply putting flowers into a container. It is a disciplined art form in which the arrangement is a living thing in which nature and humanity are brought together. It is steeped in the philosophy of developing a closeness with nature.” –Ikebana International
Since ikebana is the only traditional arts class offered this semester that I didn’t take, it was really interesting to see a professional exhibit. I’m sure I wasn’t able to come even close to appreciating all of the style and skill that goes into the art, as people study their entire lives to master it, but it was still very interesting to see. I included two photographs as examples of two very different styles, but I assure you that these two alone come nowhere close to representing all of the variety the exhibit had to offer.
4) Tuesday: Regular Ol’ Class. Except that after I left the classroom, at that very instant, the Ritsumeikan marching band started leading a parade of cheerleaders and baseball players around campus to promote next week’s game against Doshisha, our biggest rival. The parade concluded in the usual spot out in the courtyard with the karate dudes shouting about how much Ritsumeikan rules until they had no voices left whatsoever.
Those of you who know me from back home will know that I have absolutely zero interest in baseball, but I’ve heard from many MANY people that seeing a college baseball game in Japan is NOTHING like seeing a game in America, and an experience that’s not to be missed. The mere excitement of the “come watch us play!” pre-game ceremonies is enough to make me believe them. So in a group of about 18 people, we bought our tickets for next Tuesday’s big game. Can’t wait!
5) Wednesday: Test, oral presentation, blog update.