Daniel in Japaniel

Stew in Beppu, or Another Photo Post

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As something to hold everyone (myself) over until the final in Japaniel, Japaniel post, I am posting my Uncle’s Photos of Japan.

As for his impressions of Japan, I would seek the man out yourself- receiving his e-mails, updating me on the Ravens, explaining his latest cooking adventures, reminds me that his observations were fresh, mixed with the experiences of his life and affecting his impressions.

After a week of attempting to cover the ground we covered in a simple blog post, I, unfortunately gave up. Our adventure was the stuff of books- and sadly this blog is the stuff of the internet. Something found when facebook stalking me, or googling “Japanese Boys, Osaka” (this happens, as my wordpress stat info tells me, more often than you’d imagine).

Hopefully though- one can pull an impression at least from the photos I have.

Tomorrow will be a longer post- explaining what I’ve been up to, in between things. But, as this month has mostly been spent tying up loose ties, and looser relationships, this month has been more of a touchstone for my life, than for entertainment, for the moment.

In other news, as these things are addictive, and since I am a narcissist, I have created a new blog- not travel-based, however, just for my short stories.

I’ll post the link in my last entry.

Photos courtesy of Uncle Stewart.

Love,

Daniel

Written by Daniel

January 13, 2009 at 9:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy New Year

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We’re making mochi, so you don’t have to.

Love and Happy New Year.

Written by Daniel

January 2, 2009 at 8:11 am

Posted in announcement

Uncle Stewart

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He arrived on the 20th, but I was already at the airport by the 19th. Goof, and the first and last goof of our tour hopefully, I read his itinerary wrong; I though he’d arrive on the 19th, no he departed Chicago on the 19th.

My Uncle is 52 and hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he has made comfortable living designing and taking photos for industrial corporations, while investing in houses that he remodels. In his spare time he dedicates himself to his true passions: gardening, sailing, and golf. And, as our conversations with locals return us to, he is actually Japanese.

Slamming away at the hundred odd pound granite mortar with his wooden hammer, steam rises from the mochi as the monks keep saying “so strong, such a natural”. “It’s my quantum mechanics, they work here” Uncle Stew describes it as. And what we both agree, these past few days have been indescribable. The sheer quantity of concidence and fortune is immeasurable. To be simple about it, it has been fun.

But we are only halfway done! Every train ride to the next stop, we tell each other, Sapporo in hand, we’ll write it down. With each successive uttering of the words becoming lax in our standards: “I gotta write it all down”, “We’ll write it down”, “I’ve been taking notes”, “Just give me the names of the things and I’ll remember”, “When I start getting these packages back home, it’ll remind me”.

Once we get into it, however, the feelings complicate the details which inevitably bring us to the thought, “just keep dancing”, our own advice, which simply means, well, keep dancing.

The first night into town, we were brought back by the Narita Express to Shinjuku station. Since I spent the day before worrying it away, hours passing by, passengers arriving, and intercoms calling “Will Mr. Stewarto OOf, please come to Terminal 1, South Arrival Station”, only later to find out how idiotic I am, and loathe myself as my body soaked in the Shinjuku Park Hotel, I knew where to take him.

Our accommodations were next door to Times Square, one of those mega-mall 20 story buildings that populate Japan. We brought ourselves to the top floor on a whim and enjoyed the spectacular skyline. Actually, as I recount this, we sit inside the same place.

He and I have only five more days left together in Japan, so unfortunately- I don’t plan to do a massive update about our travels until he leaves and I am left with my excess of time.

Every moment has been spent, “as the lotus blossoms” as Uncle Rat returns to. Our travels have been a moveable feast (moochable feast, as we’ve joked), crossing the width of this continent again and again on the shear generosity of friends and the convenience of green car rail passes.

I do want to a wish a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to everyone. Until I see all you lovely people again, my gift can only be these words and photos. As immeasurable my experience has been here in Japan, I hope to share the joy with you all soon enough.

Written by Daniel

December 30, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Posted in wandering

Ultra-tour; Stewrat

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Ultra-tour 2008

Perhaps it is fair to say, of my 2008 trips (considering Mexico by BBQ, Arizona, Milwaukee, Boston by Cr-V) this next week will be my last span of hyper-traveling of the year. We don’t go out of style though, we spread our eyes and wallets to the seams until we break.

Ideally, I can make promises to myself of future journeys spanning further; however, I’d rather say I am traveling now.

So it seems appropriate to discuss Ultra-tour, while my Uncle is somewhere sleeping miles above the Pacific, his ass traveling god knows how fast.

But first, let’s play catch up from where we last left off.

Amongst compiling my letters, journals and blog entries in an attempt to humorously Anthologize myself, I met up with my Soshi-pals once more, this time Hiroshima-Okonomiyaki style.

Admire:

Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki or Hiroshima-fu-okonomiyaki. Not really sure how to classify it other than Japanese Banh Xeo. I did make Banh Xeo recently to repay them for such a fantastic meal, but sadly- my Banh Xeo skills are lacking.

I have been cooking though (of course… always cooking). But I tried my hand at Shoujin Ryouri, and my mother’s Stone Ground Mustard and thyme recipe.

Compare:

…burned the kiriboshidaikon, だけど.

… grilling eggplant without a grill- very difficult.

After sharing a delicious meal, Daisuke put me on the spot for a mini-mandolin concert for them. I played “Dawg’s Waltz” as usual.

But a prefer playing with friends,

Cleaning dishes like fiends, we finished up and hurried off to Akasaka for a concert at “Note Akasuka” to see Kento Arai… potentially the cutest Japanese man I have met to date.

Working the relatively unfocused crowd, he asked who liked Christmas, “Just me?” he responded to the inaudible mumblings. He then sang songs about his home town, and his grandparents. “Let’s have a fun time” he added.

We hung around for the second act. As the lights dimmed on a stage with a Green Mustang RC car strapped to an amp, and a table covered with pedals and mixers. A man dressed in all black was doing yoga of stage, when Daisuke leaned into me and asked “Is this a a new religion?”

No, actually it was our first “Noise” experience. The RC car’s… engine… started up, and began driving back and forth creating a distorted effect. This, however, was the highlight of the man’s performance. He proceeded to run onto stage and ruin the sound by turning it to something one step lower than a bat screech, which continued throughout his performance. The performance consisted of the most intense I have ever seen someone tap away at a digital equalizer followed by some steel can thrashing (he smacked it around for awhile with a metal chain).

We left shortly after. Caught a glimpse of another gorgeous illumination and then returned to Soshigaya and called it a night.

The next day was spent, as I said, anthologizing myself. I spent a good whole day away at Excelsior Cafe, titter tatter tapping away.

Recently William and Mary sent out acceptances to 2009 study abroad students. Well, I am making a guess because this week I met two future Tribe folk. For a good years worth, Kazue and Sanami will study in America. Exciting. I gave them what I knew in terms of W&M文化 but it pretty much degraded into me telling them how to spend their free time traveling the U.S., recommending East Coast, Amtrak Boston to Williamsburg before the fall semester and a West Coast trip… starting in Texas via Greyhound.

Later, met up with Marie and Yuki at the daycare in Tamachi only to get schooled at Japanese tops and memory games.

Watch:

It only took two games before I called them out on cheating, and subsequently admitted defeat. Elementary school girls are still as vicious as I remember.

On the bright side, I learned how to say, “you lost a turn” in Japanese. Always a plus.

Met up with Marie’s senpai, Ochi-san who is writing a thesis on the Modern influences upon Japanese Contemporary art, and has some tough criticisms on Gaiatsu (foreign pressure) and its role in confining Japanese originality in the art world. From there we talked about superflat, which he holds as a step in the right direction for Japanese art, something homebrewed and insightful. I reminded him, however far we step, we’re all caught in this global community, influence is a hard thing to remove oneself from- unless you are pure genius. We ended up exchanging numbers, and have setup a tentative reunion tour.

After a night spent at a delicious and cheap Chinese restaurant, I took my bloated body back home, Odakyu style.

As for Thursday, Marie expressed surprising interest in the home-town of Ultraman; I invited her to take the plundge into mild mannered Soshigaya.

The tour begins as soon as you get off the train and hear the famous notes, the theme song of “Ultraman”.

To those uninformed, like myself, tune into wikipedia. In the distant future, 1993, Earth unexplicably becomes vulnerable to sinister aliens (a la Godzilla) and the only task force prepared to stop these beasts, Science Special Search Party, led by Captain Mura. Now this is the part I get foggy on, as actually wikipedia can’t keep my attension for more than two minutes at a time, possibly Mura goes comatose and pilots/becomes Ultraman to defeat these monsters using his various trademark attacks (my personal favorite: Giga Specium Beam)

At any rate, the creator, special effects pioneer, Eiji Tsuburaya, owes his roots to Soshigaya-Okura.

After leaving the train station, at the north end you can find a life size (human sized) statue of Ultraman, the original, himself. On occasion his eyes light up, and parents, children, college students alike gather around, watching the spectacle.

Marie and I quickly made our way to Cafe Melody, which shares its establishment with “Ultraman’s Shop Shot m78″. There the wife and husband (who I assume own the respective shops together), have a nice little operation going. Regulars come by for the cheap rice/pizza sets. Running about six to seven dollars, you can get a decent helping of food, soup and your choice of drink.

Yes, so this place, needless to say, is the holy grail of Ultraman paraphanelia. From toothbrushes, chopsticks, towels, masks, key chains, soaps, candy, bibs, models, to finger puppets, you can get your fill of Ultraman goodies. On the opposite wall are dozens of visitor’s crayon doodles of the hero. If you make the trip out, I suggest you check out the guest book. It has some gems like “I have to go the bathroom!” and “Ultraman Number 1″ scribbled in it. I contributed.

Halfway through our lunch, I get a call from Marie’s friend Eisai, where he spent the conversation explaining Ultraman Legacy with suspicious amount of detail. But Marie and Eisai both convinced me, their interest grew out of a Contemporary art. Like SuperFlat or some Warholian dream, the artist simply displayed his figures- and made art.

ultraman-ultramodern

Art? Discuss.

Marie and I then spent the afternoon walking from Soshigaya to Seijo and back again; she, speaking in Japanese, and myself, English. Marie is an interesting case. Her English comprehension is fluent, by all means, but to squeeze an English word out of her is difficult. We spent most of the afternoon chatting about American movies and future travel plans.

Taking French now, Marie hopes to get some traveling around the country during and after a Keio University summer program in 2010.

Perhaps we’ll meet up.

Time in Japan has made me focus on the future, perhaps, while immediately glued to the present moment. However, it is impossible to not experience every high moment traveling without the background thought of, “how can I sustain this?” My return, and resuming three semesters of college will be spent finding an end to this desire, hopefully by getting a suitable job that can assure a life of travel.

Here on out, it is an ultra-tour.

Doodle-session

Bunbun-san is possibly my new mascot.

Which reminds me, after spending a thrilling hour of adorably nervous and hilarious “travel etc.” conversation with friend and Shiga-native, Yukiko (met at Long Island Cafe), I came back to Soshigaya-Okura for a farewell, Banh Xeo party at the Kanonpu household.

There I failed horribly at making Banh Xeo, but still managed a meal out of it. After the meal, I told Daisuke and Rie about my family, particularly Momma Wolfe and her story. We then ate some of the spiciest fish eggs in the world. Heralding from the Fukuoka, these fish eggs, well… they were different.

I spent the rest of the night, pen in hand- doodling to chorus of praise from Rie and Daisuke. We goofed off until near one in the morning, Daisuke gave me a commermorative Kanonpu-T-Shirt (photos of this are bound to appear at some point) and I wished them a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years as I left for the last time this year.

But, this story won’t end. I actually plan on returning to live in Soshigaya-Okura one more time before leaving for the States. From the 5th until the 14th of January, high school alumnus, Marco Brundelre and I will be seen pacing the streets of Ultraman.

But really… in a few hours-

Guess who is coming to town?

uncle stewart

Ultra-tour guys.

Thank you for 2000 views.

Written by Daniel

December 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Posted in announcement

The Cutest Friendships

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Getting sick away from home is a difficult thing. Really it has been over a week now of this simple cold. It has worn off on me though. Though, I still wake up around noon to two in the afternoon to begin my now regular day. So today, on the twelfth day of the twelfth month I wake up at 12:12 (it was 12:32 actually) to continue my blogging journey.

First let’s talk about where I live. I am in a surprisingly quite neighborhood only twenty minutes from Shibuya (one of the most busiest pop-markets there are). Here in Soshigaya-ookura, students come in to the next door university (Nihon University) trading places with the commuting population boarding the trains in bound to the Yamanote-pack. Around 6 PM they change places once again. Students now head out for the standing bars, the furugi (used clothes) stores, or maybe the nearest Starbucks to grind away at homework.

Soshigaya-ookura is really known for one thing: Ultraman. Perhaps we iconically know Japan by Godzilla (close second would be Pokemon). However, Ultraman vastly outclasses Godzilla in the salaryman conversation circle. It is well known that in a battle to the death, Ultraman would reign supreme. No problem.

To this end, Ultraman can be seen soaring around Soshigaya. I have found five statues of him so far, and continue to find new ones each day. The latest discovery would be Ultraman-Cafe, which plays Ultraman-movie as long as they are open on their 60 inch plasma-flat-screen-what-not-what-not.

Little tid-bit for you, Ultraman’s creator said inspiration came from staring at Miroku-bosatsu, otherwise known as Maitreya, or the future Buddha foretold to save this world. Since hearing this, I make sure to clap my hands twice and bow whenever passing under the Ultraman-tori’s of Soshigaya.

It’s also been suggested that, on a cold day, one can find Ultraman sweeping up the yellow leaves and loose trash gathered around the Soshigaya-Ookura station. True story.

As for my homestay family, I couldn’t have lucked out any more. They are fantastic. Noe is hard at work on her first gallery opening. After returning from teaching classes and managing the studio space at her work, she comes back and tirelessly scans proof after proof onto her computer. She has not yet begun the arduous process of picking her favorite shot of each of the 200 babies. She has thousands of photos to go through yet. This doesn’t stop her goofing off with me while I cook, or come out with Yuki and I to visit the locals.

Yuki, her husband, is by all accounts brilliant. One of those guys who can talk endlessly about any topic if you pressed him, but humbly adds to conversation rather than dominating it. He met Noe at the same photography school (Noe was a teacher’s aid at the time), and after graduating, chose to continue work for the Tokyo fire department, rather than climb the salaryman ladder. Because of this he works every other day, and when he works he takes on a 30 hour shift. His return home is that like a soldier’s. Hugs fly around, lots of love.

Probably what I appreciate most about this homestay, is the love. Noe and Yuki are still a reasonably young couple. They chase each other down the hallway occassionally. They share smoke breaks. They cook for each other, Yuki typically making dinner, Noe usually making sweet little rice cakes for lunch.

This is the kind of place I have been living in, and it is fantastic.

Generally I have been catching up on other writing projects: one, a series of shorts on imaginations on Japanese life from the perspective of a homeless NOVA-er (an ex-english teaching company that attracted and then stranded many ex-pats here); two, an essay on Ramen culture here, heavy on the field research. I have also been plowing through my Japanese textbook in order to catch-up with my classmates state-side (this is actually harder than it sounds… forcing yourself to memorize kanji especially is difficult when your cellphone will intelligently predict the sentence you want to write). I have also found companionship in “Moby Dick”. There is no better novel to read cruising along the endless subway lines of Tokyo, than this Melville tome.

So that forms the basic skeleton of my day. I usually hop coffee shop to coffee shop lugging these essentials around with me. Now don’t for a second imagine some tasteful, coffee cove in some back alley. Usually, I find the most obnoxiously chain of chained spots- right by the train station, and watch commuters swipe their Suica rail cards while I dare foreigners to look me in the eye. (Side note: not sure if this sort of tourism-culture exists in other countries, but rarely can I talk to foreigners here on account that they like to suspend themselves in the “Lost in Translation” dream world- that they are alone among a viciously homogenous population. Not the case really, each subway car, I guarentee you has their fair share of Murrays and Johanssons. Actually, I picked up a “10 Ten Places in Tokyo” book the other day, and it has a special section on how one can retrace their fictional steps. True story.)

As for the special occasions that have popped and propped up in my life lately, let’s start with last Sunday.

The afternoon was spent with Marie and Yuki at the “Visions of America” photography exhibit at the Yebisu Garden Place. A mix of famous American and Japanese photographers alike, the gallery was a meditation on American culture, the road, the protests and the wars.

Afterwards we took the subway the local girl’s college to see my friend Takahiro Momoeda’s male choir “The Wagner Society” sing Classical, in Japanese and Latin, then finish up with tribute to Porgy and Bess. Unfortunately I only could stay for the Japanese portion, though I was hoping to catch a little of “Bess you is my woman”.

I had to leave early because my roommate from this summer’s Keio CCC program, Ryo Kakinuma, got some of the student’s together for a “Welcoming Party” on my behalf. We met up in Shibuya, yelled our “久しぶり”s, and made our way over to “Doma Doma” a famous Izakaya chain. Izakayas, if we remember, sport a beautiful array of typical Japanese-style tapas, and, most importantly, cheap drinks.

Picture montage time:

Maybe an hour into our festivities, myself, well versed in how insufficient I am in Japanese, a certain on going internal monologue at this point of “wow, their speaking Japanese”, Toshi sensei, Ph.D. in American Literature, rolls in sporting his beauty and equal brilliance. We spend a good portion of the dinner chatting about the whale (what he wrote his Thesis on, actually) while he’d return back to the students making them laugh with his, I can only imagine, fantastic Japanese witticisms.

In his spare time from teaching nine classes, he enjoys writing for a popular music magazine here in Japan. Soon he’ll be spending his sabatical in the states, teaching.

After the meal was finished, Toshi dropped two mon-en (220 bucks) like nothing, and declined to join the second party of Karaoke.

Karaoke, a treat, as always, astonished me once again. My past experiences with the craft has only been with businessmen, typically more than twice my age. Their voices cracking as they croon away at Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones hits of their youth.

Now I was surrounded by pros. A generation that’s grown up never knowing a time without the inebriated past-time. Really born and raised to cover songs. And, damn, when Daisuke and the bunch started J-Rapping, I was really too embarassed to try my hands at Paul Simon covers. Though I did, sick voice and all.

The couple hours of singing cost fifteen bucks around, and we all said our “お疲れ様”s this time at Shibuya station, while everyone checked last train times with their Yahoo equipped cellular devices.

This night out was enjoyed after a rough three or four days in bed (futon) coughing and sneezing. It was the shining light that life in all it’s rhythms was picking up again. A reminder that time is too short to wonder what to do.

So the next day, I sat in the skyline cafe, Muriwui, sipping on ginger tea, eating fried potatoes, occasionally talking to the burger chef owner- who had lived 30 years in San Francisco. When I got up to pay the bill, I noticed the two girls who had been taking an English lesson in the corner of the room got up too. Wrapping up my red plaid scarf, walking down the stairs, I decided to pick up a few veggies for dinner. I turned around to grab some garlic, when I noticed the girls had followed me into the grocery store. I tried my tired joke “久しぶり” (long time no see), and we chatted while we picked up food. Little did I know at the time, that we were really shopping for the next nights dinner.

Rie, a local musician with her husband Daisuke, invited me over for dinner. The 25 and 24 year old couple (respectively) have a ballad duet with Hawaiiain influences called かのんぷ (Kanonpu). Daisuke sports a classical guitar or ukelele, while Rie is the lead singer and plays piano.

Here they are on a morning t.v. show actually.

Their apartment is unassailably cute, decorations reminiscent of their honeymoon abroad in Hawaii together.

We stuffed ourselves, bowl and bowl, trading back and forth between Japanese and English- correcting each other as we went along. There is no doubt, that I am slightly “cooler” simply on the merit of being a native English speaker. But that simply comes with the territory of being in Japan. After throwing sweet mochi cakes, green tea cookies, every which kind of shochu and nihonshu (sake), and a sample cd my way, we promised on another dinner date; the next time I would cook.

A 15 minute walk later back to my homestay, I realized I had neighborhood friends again. Since their income is solely off the dozens of concerts they have a year, we’re sole mates in our excessively freetime. Here’s their website if you wanna check them out, http://kanonpu.eek.jp/index.html

The next day, I visited Marie at her part-time job at the daycare, where I’ve essentially taken up a volunteer position. There I sold candy, watched the drama that is elementary school romance, played with a dog, and heard my first imitation of my American-accent-Japanese, by a lovely little boy.

Photos:

Around 6, we all parted ways and Marie pointed me in the direction of a standing-space-only Ramen shop, for which I am incredibly grateful.

I then took a train out to Yokohama where Rie and Daisuke were waiting with a free ticket to see Hawaiiain pop at this American bar called “Thumbs Up”. Because of their sweet connections, I met two former Yokozunas (god-like Sumo wrestlers), and listened to set after set of much needed soulfull music.

Photos:

Like giddy children we texted each other throughout the next day and decided to have a Salmon-Burger night. This time I invited my homestay parents over. The Salmon-Burgers would be my treat this time, the delicious Nabe- theirs.

Yuki and I made the feast together, which would be: 12 Salmon Burgers with cilantro on wheat bread, Mashed caramalized acorn squash and grilled asparagus.

All of us garlic lovers, we pretty much made garlic burgers with Salmon for flavor. About 10 salmon cuts, one garlic, a few pieces of white bread, fried mushrooms, half an onion, black pepper, 3 eggs later, Yuki, Noe and I went over to Rie and Daisuke’s place (of course picking up refreshments along the way).

Needless to say I was as giggly as a cub scout on his first marshmellow bonfire. I could think of nothing cuter than a union of my host family and Kanonpu.

Yuki, Noe, working couple they are, had to unfortunately leave early. After they parted- Daisuke and Rie stopped everything. Daisuke looking at me seriously said, “Daniel, now is the time for a private concert. A concert only for you, and your memories”. They played me a new song, and one of my favorites “守りたい物” (Things I wanna protect).

We have the cutest friendship ever. No offense meant. We’re meeting up tomorrow night for an okonomiyaki party, Japanese style deliciousness.

That almost brings up to date. But actually, I met up with Sae Goizumi, my homestay-sister I hosted way back, 5 years ago.

We met up at Shinagawa station the next day, and it was just like old times- except our respective language skills grew, as well as our height. We rode to Yokohama, and spent a little less than three hours Karaok-ing together. “You can Karaoke at 3 in the afternoon?”, “You can Karoake whenever” she responded.

I’ll try and dig up a flashback photo, but really- Sae (for those who have ever met her) looks completely different, but she still has her goofy sense of humor.

We then met up with her friend, also an alumni of the Catonsville-homestay program (esteemed as that is), Saki. We ate dinner at T.G.I Fridays. Which is, exactly what you imagine it to be, except there is a dangerous amount of drunk touring Americans, or sweet-hearts reunited in the island’s navy port.

I grabbed the largest burger I could, while Saki and Sae got some shrimp and pasta dishes. With bottomless sodas and greasey plates, it was another giddy childhood moment. I could stop smiling. And then- they surprised me with an ice cream sundae.

Like I started, getting sick away from home, is a difficult thing. I am incredibly forturnate for the friends I sometimes feel I don’t deserve. As I come into my own here, it only reminds me of the times I am missing at home. This morning began calling up Olivia out of homesickness. What lasted to a forty-five minute call, ended with me reminded of all the open arms readily available, the easily found love of life. This may be Japan, but experience is inextricable from life. Hospitality is eternal.

At any rate, I just have a stuffy nose now. With my Uncle’s arrival this Friday, time in Japan is slipping away. But it couldn’t be any more polite in saying good-bye.

Written by Daniel

December 13, 2008 at 8:08 am

Posted in event, food, shopping, wandering

Slight Cold

with one comment

“I don’t care what you say, I’ll add cilantro to anything.”

This is the result of one of my more mindless arguments with myself after three days of staying indoors, more or less.

Luckily my first day here I had the forsight to make a grocery store excursion, picking up orange juice, gingerale, 2 salmon filets, 2 packs of firm tofu, frozen cut spinach, a six-pack of Sapporo’s winter ale, a half-loaf of wheat bread and some parsley.

The parsley was a mistake. A mistake only I can take credit for, obviously I had wanted cilantro, as parsley is disgusting and has no use in the kitchen. Even the label says “Pa-Sa-Ri” to anyone, that should scream, not cilantro. An amateur mistake. A mistake I kind of sat in my mucusy cocoon stewing over… damnit… cilantro is called “Pa-Ki-Chii” here.

After my painful experience trying to imagine parsley tastes the same as cilantro, I picked up some of the real stuff on my walk back from Ookura eki today.

Actually, yes I have been out. At least once a day, I have been outside for longer than an hour, in order to keep my morale up. After sleeping for a good 14 hours… I woke up this morning  (12:30), and willed myself to bathe. There I decided to make a little trip to Shibuya.

I was counting my blessings when I thought, at least I didn’t have a headache, just a backache and cough. I came back from the busiest train-station/intersection in the world with a stuffy nose and feverish headache. Luckily those have calmed down a bit since then.

The sights were worth it though. More of the usual, crazy colors, a uniform 35 under crowd. People taking pictures of the giant intersection. Couples, foreign or local alike sitting cross legged, visible through the third or second floor windows of the Starbucks they populated.

My trip was simple enough, check out the local musical instrument stores. It’s become actually a regular routine of mine when going into a new town here. Usually I dick around on whatever selection of harmonia’s are available (here they are called pianokas), or oggle the ocarina selection. I was little too congested and considerate today to spread germs, so I limited my activities to browsing mandolin books.

It’s amazing how little I feel like speaking Japanese when I am sick. I almost feel completely innept when faced with conversation. This especially bothers me with my host family, since I want to speak so much more- but whenever I get excited, I simply, literally, get clogged up.

Past few days though have been great rest though. As Jay reminds me from back home, there is really no rush.

And really, I don’t feel all too bad. Shibuya looked exactly the same. When I got there, I realized- oh yeah, the welcoming party tomorrow is going to be in Shibuya. I slapped myself and went about the window shopping.

Some great sleeping and reading has been done. But really, the greatest achievement lately is getting a copy of Dave Brubeck’s “Live at Carnegie Hall” put on my computer.

Nothing compliments a cold in the cold better than side 2.

Good night!

Written by Daniel

December 6, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Posted in announcement

Back to Tokyo

with 2 comments

Perhaps never I’ll admit it; I may or not be sick. I have been able to dodge the cold so far in Japan. The cough so far has all indications of something wholly uncomfortable.

There’s a health update, as for everything else- the Antioch program is finally at an end. We returned a few days ago with the exception of two students unfortunately displaced by the Thai protestor’s airport takeover. Luckily they did make a flight out of Malaysia in time to see everyone off yesterday.

Presentations were the day before that. They went by simply enough. The director continued to insist it was a celebration, while presentations were approached either as paper recitation or casual discussion. All good, though.

At anyrate, two thirds of my time here and Japan have gone by now, and I am actually sitting in my home for the next 10 or so days.

I am doing a homestay program with a young couple Noe and Yuki. As I haven’t met Noe, and I have barely talked to Yuki- I can’t say too much about them besides that Yuki is a fireman and Noe is a photographer.

Now really, I am probably going to bed, but if there is anything you really need to know. The biggest thing that I have found out lately… it is that…

 

Noe will have an exhibition on December 27th. She will put on display 200 pictures of Japanese babies.

Alright, time to sleep off this cold. More info to come on where I am living, and my plans for Tokyo.

Good night and good morning.

Written by Daniel

December 3, 2008 at 10:34 am

Posted in announcement

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