Straight back to work. Remain in culture shock for two days. Start to lament my extra year (remember this was back in May) but people are happy to see me back which lessens the feeling.
Kendo, was a hard day after an absence but I go home feeling good.
Jodo sucks but classes going well.
Kendo again, feel clumsy and have huge blisters on my feet but feels good.
Culture shock (as evidenced by riveting updates above) ends. In my Friday class I say, almost under my breath, yay it’s Friday! To my utmost surprise the class ERUPTS into clapping. This is the beginning of a Friday tradition that never fails to put a huge grin on my face.
After work I go out for a coffee with Holly, an English girl from Aburatsu who I get along splendidly with. A coffee turns into a drink, then dinner, then looking for a bar. We have an interesting conversation where we realise we are COMPLETE opposites, and we heartily enjoy comparing things from the opposite side of the life-fence for awhile. Wish to hang out more.
I am up so early. It’s raining, but my ride still arrives so I jump in the car. Today I have been invited by my travel agent to go canoeing on the Oyodo river in the city. She lives near me so we take a beautiful back way into the city through the mountains. On the way there I suddenly see a butt flash above the windscreen, and watch in disbelief as a monkey swings itself out over the road and up into a tree. Hiroko points to our left and we watch an entire troop of monkeys scamper along the embankment.
We make a quick stop in the middle of the mountains to see a “Rose garden.” Because we are in the middle of nowhere I am dubious. This feeling grows as we slip and slide our way along a path, in the rain, under the trees. For some reason I see about twenty crabs scuttling along. We are nowhere near sea. The Rose gardens turn out to be someone’s house, hidden away, where they have decided to grow roses on all this uninhabited space. Despite the rain and the roses looking somewhat bedraggled, it is absolutely lovely. We see hundreds of lilies, and I learn that that bamboo water thing that fills and empties (making that soft clunking sound) is not for relaxation, as we often use it, but actually was created long ago to scare away wild animals.
When we get to the city, I go and find a bathroom. To do this I wander for awhile, then plunge into the nearest governmental building and up an elevator to an indiscriminate floor. Because I can read no kanji I never know what type of a building I am in, but because I am foreign, no-one ever asks me what I’m doing there. Being foreign in
We begin the canoeing! To my joy, there are more foreigners. After being shown how to paddle (literally, we all stand in a line on land and paddle) we are escorted to our canoes. For some reason paddles in
I have a wonderful day canoeing with Asha, Matt, and some fun Japanese people up the river. Before long we fetch up on land, which is odd, considering we are right in the centre of the river. We get out and have great fun walking on water and pretending to be Jesus. Needless to say we are the only ones. When I look back at my canoe it is high above water so we realise the tide is dropping and hop it back to our actual canoeing. The weather all of a sudden becomes lovely, so I hook my legs over the sides of my canoe, rest my arms on my paddle, and lean back for a snooze. Bliss. Asha, Matt and I make plans for a river float, as it seems we are from similar places where slow moving water, alcohol and sunlight are the recipe for everything that is important in this world. On the way back to the dropoff point, it starts POURING. This is
After this Matt, myself, and a young Japanese man we have terrified into joining us go out for American burgers(!) and then to wander around the city for a bit. We have coffee, and I check into my hotel at about 3pm.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this (I believe I have) but I have a love for hotels. So I have a fun hotel day, using condiments, bathing, reading, lounging around in a robe, and playing with a hilarious beauty face mask which makes me look like the
Tonight is a goodbye party for Mattsy and a few other people/birthdays/I can’t really remember what it was. For some reason Jordy and I wore glitter though. No regrets.
Out for dinner! We go to the same place as the welcome party all those months ago so it’s very nostalgic and there is a lot of talk of how wonderful it all was. Stomach hurts and it rains again but there are so many people I love to catch up with that it’s a nice, nice evening.
We go to a bar but it’s loud and chaotic and small so we go to karaoke. Miles gets me some medicine for my stomach (god knows where – but drugstores are open all the time in
At the end of the night, we all stand around outside, I go and get a doughnut, and when I get back everyone is gone. I happily eat my doughnut and wander back to my hotel.
Lovely morning, meet Jords after breakfast and go for a nice coffee with Sam. After this we decide to get Thai massages. Why not? Sam and I go to what I wrote in my notes as “the viney house from the movie Rose Red” but which I now know (months later) is actually the Kencho where a lot of my friends have been working for years, to pick up his car which he secretly stows there. The more you know. Sam and I drove along the coast to Aoshima, where we met the Emmas and co. and had an extended lunch (literally like 3 hours) at some sweet wee vegan place on a hill. An afternoon of health against an entire lifetime of careless decisions.