Daniel in Japaniel

November in Japan

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The smell of November is universal. Kyoto weather is a different beast since those days of humidity. Now the sun is bright and tastes like tomorrow, while the shade is chilly and reminds us of what’s really to come. Neither is better than these warm drizzles that punctuate my days though.

Enough fluff as usual, finals are done today. My return to Japan was a busy one. There was no real adventure aside from a stop at Fukakusa for their school festival. Everything else has been the rhythm of keyboards clicking while GirlTalk blares in my headphones. It’s absolutely fine though. These days were spent in investment and anticipation of the new stage of this trip. This month marks the beginning of my research period, which has finally been focused: traditional and contemporary manifestations of Zen cooking as an analogy for the permeation of Zen in Japan. In short, eat, eat, eat and write about it.

This is all too much, the good things to write about. Of course there are always great things, but the freedom of travel is up there. It’s that promise of things I’m savoring right now. It’s the same as looking forward to an Obama administration with all the hopes and dreams to manifest. Yes I want them too, but if they don’t, there is no way it can damage the unbridled anticipation I feel today. (Oh, and GirlTalk is coming to William and Mary? yes, good job yes yes)

While everyone in the program gears up to leave, I am looking at a few more days in Kyoto. In an attempt to save money, I hope leaving the 13th for travel will guarantee a free bullet ride to Tokyo come the 3rd of December. But let’s outline my travels from here on out, shall we? [meaning, humor me while I organize what’s floating in my head anyway]

I will work on the source material portion of my paper from now until the the thirteenth when I will visit a temple in Uji to have a taste of their Shoujin-Ryouri (Zen Cooking). After a night spent somewhere in that area, I will take the rapid ot Osaka to meet up with one of the Kitchen staff of Hokyoji (rewind here) to study here cooking techniques, as well as sit in on a lecture by the prominent chef Tsuji at his school (also in Osaka). On the 16th, she and I will go for some zazen at a temple called Saikouji. When we get back, I will thank her and take the late train to Nagasaki. There intend to visit their Peace Musuem and a friend’s grandmother’s sushi restaurant. On the 18th, I will visit Hiroshima’s Peace Musuem on my journey back north. There I’ll decide to stay another day or press on to Sapporo. Sapporo there is plenty of things to do. Mostly, I intend to embrace the cold until the 22nd in a cabin hostel called the Autohouse, drinking instant ramen like a champ and wandering the forest. By the 23rd I should be at the KEIO festival staying with two friends for a couple days. Later Julian will meet up with me for a Thanksgiving extravaganza that only Tokyo can provide (I only say this… because I have no idea how Tokyo will provide). There is probably a visit to Takashi Murakami’s exhibit at Tokyo’s Modern Art Musuem, somewhere in there. With the end of November comes the end of the program (for real), we return for a couple dinners and presentations, while I return to pick up one last Long Island Cafe shift and say goodbye to my Ryu-dai friends.

That is phase two of this three pronged trip. December brings me a new life in Tokyo, sharing my sleeping space with a homestay family, KEIO students, my Uncle Stewart, my friend Hiro, and then a reunion with Marco Brundelre. But who can really anticipate where I will be at that point. Now with the steady flow of tourists, small, big, Japanese, gaijin or otherwise, it’s easy to see my transition out of Kyoto; as the leaves turn their firery red, my anxiousness to travel this nation destroys me. Though today seemed planned enough for me, I look forward to the last hurrah of this program. I have one last group cleaning of the temple, some “group bonding” moments, and a dinner of the best sashimi that comes to Kyoto (for twenty bucks).

Tomorrow begins the book end of the research. But as most things seem these days, action always carries the burden of investment, I’ve been trying to invest in simply the action itself. Hard to do with so much to look forward to though.

If you haven’t already checked it out, my picasa account has all of my photos from Vietnam, including the Cao Dai temples I visited and the new and old family I met.


Written by Daniel

November 7, 2008 at 1:46 am

Posted in announcement

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