Sunday, October 22, 2006
I'm adding one home photo for my host family and planning on ending this blog site here. It was created for Brayan, my husband, after all. It was never deep, and was in fact, rushed as I was going from one location to the next. For those adding this to their school links, I hope mu site adds something :)
I missed my restroom (2 sinks, a bathtub, seperate shower room, and toilet).
I managed to find Western style toilets everywhere, so I never used the Japanese style version above. Pheww.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Parents come to read to the kids every other week.
Kids riding unicycles to school!
The Ryokan. Beautiful beyond belief.
View of from our outdoor shower.
Okay, the sun was in my face. This was my host mother. Very fashionable!
Our room at the Ryokan. All the windows opened all around.
See you all soon :) Gotta go!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
In case you have missed it. I lost my camera. Yeah. It hurts. Bad. So, sadly I have many pictures, they just happen to be on other people's cameras. Even at the elementary, I borrowed the teacher's camera, and she is being kind enough to send them to my home on a CD.
So, here are my updates with random photos to brighten up the dialogue :)
The Elementary School: Loved it, but I would prefer to post pictures first. I'll summarize. The kids entered the school to a principal and teachers inviting them in, they had a choice to either play outside, water plants, read, or write. There was a mix of all of the above. Huh, that makes sense. This seems to complicated for Americans...doing things that are developmentally appropriate for kids. Start the day with movement and free reading and writing.
I took near a million photos. Poor teacher. It was great.
Everyone pitches in for lunch. Very efficient...
Clean up time is taken seriously...
My Long Run and a Missed Earthquake: So, I go out for my 15 mile run this morning. I get to run by the beach and the weather is just perfect. The run was so easy because everything was flat. I was even able to end the last 4 miles at a 7:30 pace (impressive by any standards). The last mile was closing in on the 6:40 range. I could have gone longer. I was pumped (Brayan, think Jon Richardson)! I walk in to being asked, "Did you feel the earthquake?" What!? I missed a 5.3 earthquake. I guess I was moving faster than the speed of light and it superceded the earthquake or something like that.
My Host Family Visit: I stayed with Sumiko and Tamotsu this weekend. I was the one telling everyone that it wasn't a big deal. "Don't worry, it's only a day!" I said. As we pulled up into the parking lot, I got so nervous. Very nervous. Luckily, my nerves were eased as I met Sumiko who shared a common interest of walking a lot. She also had great taste and helped find good places to shop and visit. I got to China Town, something I didn't think I would fit in my schedule, along with a trip to Kamakura (another area) and the beach. In Kamakura, she helped me pick the coolest Japanese shoes. She and her husband gave me the prettiest hand-made purse and tea set. The purse was exactly something I would pick, and Sumiko was nice enough to throw in a small money purse that was equally beautiful.
I think the thing I enjoyed the most was our talk on American culture. If anyone has read or watched Gulliver's Travels, this would summarize it all. I never really stopped to wonder why our society does what it does. Example, "Why do so many Americans get divorced?" It becomes a domino effect of more whys. Because they marry young...why. Because they don't really know each other and/or we focus on ourselves...why. You see what I mean? If not, it was really important to me and I'll try to explain later. It also made me think that our way of life is based on the Darwin method. Every man/women for themselves. We life without purpose, merely going along with things. Japanese life seems to have a meaning and purpose, and it reminded me that I need to be more reflective on my decisions and day to do interactions.
So, I got off on a tangent, but this is what is on my mind...and I am tired. Anyway, it was wonderful and I think Sumiko is well on her way to becoming an interpretor. Something I think I helped her with this weekend. :)
One of the shopping areas I visited with my great host family. I LOVED the mall close by. So neat!
Out of Money: So, I ran out of cash hoping to get money out of an ATM machine. Then nothing. It wouldn't read it. I was so embarresed! Sumiko ended up paying for some of my food as I promised to send her money once I got to Tokyo. Just to check out whether it worked at all, I stopped by a grocery store and bought Thomas the Train bubble gum and some crackers. It worked. Julie was kind enough to pay for not only dinner but Baskin Robbins after that.
Komono Dress: Julie went Komono shopping and somehow I became the genie pig to try an outfit on. I hate to admit this, but I loved it and felt so pretty. There is so much to put on, and I felt bad not being able to understand her as I know there is so much significance in each piece, etc. I plan on reading up soon. We also stopped by some American used clothes/item stores. I personally loved the Jolly Green Giant phone, but felt the 125 dollar price tag was a tad on the crazy side. But, I could make a killing! An average t-shirt went for 40 dollars or so and super cheap, nasty looking items went for 5 dollars. I saw the cheapest little buttons like Krogers or Home Alone 3 for this price. Crazy!
Out of Touch Until I Return to Tokyo: Just a warning that I will not have email or phone access until Tuesday in Tokyo. Time is going so quickly!!!
Thursday, October 12, 2006
After school ends MANY students stay after to stay in club activities (and there are a lot of different clubs). A visit to the art club revealed no teachers. The children were getting supplies on their own and working on projects. One boy was paiting Starry Night (Van Gogh, I hope you know that Brayan). These girls were carefully picking weeds from the roots. Not in the school garden, but everywhere. As you know, children clean up after themselves. A teacher was found after school cleaning the restroom floors with the children.
Kendo. A traditional sport in Japan.
What can I say? I'm lucky. This is, of course, Mount Fuji. This is the view from Enoishma Island. 2 miles away...15 minutes running distance.
The peace signs...it is the number one thing Japanese children do when they see us. Go figure!
To explain this picture and this photo would take me an hour. Here it is in a glimpse. I went on a treasure hunt in Zushi for an ancient keyhole tumulus (look that up- It's a place where very important people are burried). It involved a 3 mile hike to this town, several tunnels, a sweet Hawaiian resturant, flashlights, a Garmin GPS system, the writer of Sesame Street (in Japanese) who attended UT Martin, who helped us climb the 100 m (football field) hill that never seemed to end, who had his dog Love to keep us company, that helped us look for a treasure hidden in the hole of a tree, who helped us give up but helped us realize it wasn't the treasure, it was the adventure that was worth it, who invited us to his house (Mom, don't freak out. This is normal), who had a mansion, who then took us back to the train station in his BMW. I did NOT run the next morning. The 100 meter hill alone was a MAJOR workout.
Oh. Now, I am running out of time. Here I go.
This is our tour guide. I LOVE HER!!! I couldn't imagine anyone not liking her. She is so sweet!
How could I not add this one?
Todays ramblings are dedicated to her and in full Japanese style, I write a Hakui, minus a theme of nature.
Monday, October 09, 2006
With my ultra cheap memory card, 69 photos a day is what I can cover. I have maxed out every day that I have been here. My ritual is to save and store the photos on my computer, delete the old ones on the memory card, and then proceed to do it all again the following day. So, last night I noticed some themes around here. One was Hawaiian stores and the other was Pachinco (sp?). A small trip to the Southern Beach in Chigasaki (named after a famous Japenese band Southern Ole' Stars) and Kamakura made this abundantly clear. The stores screamed, "We like Hawaii!" as the streets were littered with stores like Rikki Rikki Deli, Hawaiian resturants, and Hawaiian music filtered their way out of small business stores. When asked, "Why all the Hawaiian themes?" a young man said that they believed this area had many commonalities as it is known for surfing, is laid back, and looks similar. I agree. So here is how my day started when we meet today.
Jokenji Temple: A trip down the backroads did remind me of the remote areas of Hawaii. Small streets lead us to an alley where we had to make way towards the temple. Here are some photos. I had to include the little girl. She was just precious.
The owner of this historic Japanese home was eager to let us into the house to view and take pictures. Our tour guide said these are very rare, and we were very lucky to go inside. The outside roof was made out of straw (Hawaiian hut looking).
Chigasaki City Museum of Art: We couldn't take any photos, but the museum workers took out old posters and offered them to us free of charge. I grabbed all the posters related to children's literature. I believe they had an exhibit on this.
Southern Beach: Photos speak for themselves. I had to do the corny thing and take this picture...
The whole surfing vibe was well represented including an appropriate amount of fit, active runners making their way down the sandy path. There were more people surfing here than witnessed in California and Hawaii. All were men and they seemed to have a better handle on it.
Lunch: Here's a picture. You got a ticket for your shoe placement, and this was the kind of establishment where you sat down on the mats. This is a typical meal and typical arrangement you might find in a resturant. The rice had seaweed in it. It had a salty taste and was quickly eaten first. I've almost gotten to the point where I have stopped asking, "Now, what is this?" Just eat it.
Kamakura/Great Buddah: Next we were off to Kamakura to see the second largest Buddah. To demonstrate its size, imagine that the head has 636 hair ringlets. Each one is much bigger than your head. Pictures can't capture its size. It was much bigger than I was anticipating. Here again is a picture. Their were "famous" dove cookies that we were told we must try. I thought the random ice cream flavors like chestnut, cherry blossom, and sweet potato were more intriging.
Pictures of the actual temples did not allow photos. I think this one was okay because I didn't see any signs (and it was far away). There was one that I could have stared at all day. It was something out of Indiana Jones. So beautiful. I watched as a mother taught her son how to properly pray.
Tomorrow: Meet the Mayor of Chigasaki, Superintendent of the Board of Education, and a visit to Yokohama National University.