Monday, August 06, 2007


(eigo - English)
OK, back to English, though most who read this probably know Japanese better than me... It has been a week and that is way too long for this post, I haven't yet told you about what is quite arguably my best days in Japan.
Nobuko's family were so very nice it was amazing. Her mother and aunt spent all day cooking more than a table full of vegetarian food for me. I cant say I know what it all was, but it was all delicious. I absolutely stuffed myself and they still kept telling me to eat. Every time I took a sip from my beer they refilled it for me as well, with probably my current favorite Japanese beer. (Kirin The Gold) Her mother had asked Nobuko and practiced to say 'Welcome to my home' when I got there which was a really nice thing for her to do. It was a really nice evening where I talked to her family quite a bit. I do regret that I did not get to talk to her dad more, as he went upstairs a bit early and then because of his work schedule I did not get to see him again for the trip.
I could have come with an empty suitcase and her mother would have filled it. She gave me tea, mocchi, snacks that the Japanese eat while drinking beer, gum and traditional Osaka candies. She would have given me a lot more, but there was simply no room in my suitcase. As it was I felt she gave me too much, with all the wonderful things she did for me while I was there. Nobuko and Minor both chipped in to buy me a Junbei, a kind of Japanese traditional outfit that is kind of like a yukatta with shorts. Her mother completed the outfit by giving me Tatami sandals, which is great since my old ones were beginning to fall apart.
The next morning, Nobuko and her mother put out a large spread for me again while they ate coffee jelly and toast... I felt like a king in their home. It was really just too nice. After that Nobuko and I met Minori for a tour of Osaka. Minori had never done this either so it was new to her as well.
First let me tell you that it was about 983 degrees out and humid. Nobuko wore a sweat shirt..... I would have died. There seem to be two schools of thought on beauty in Japan. One is to stay as white as possible (Nobuko's meathod) and the other is to get a fake tan till you're dark brown and then put on white makeup..... I must say between the two I prefer Nobuko's method by far. Minori doesn't seem to care either way. ^^
Anyway, we went for a tour of the rivers of the city by boat and then to Osaka castle. The boat ride was a nice chance to see the scenery around town quickly in the short time I had to see it. I really would like to explore Osaka more. The castle was beautiful on the outside. It  really dominates the landscape of the city, even with all the skyscrapers. It was not at all what I expected inside. It was basically a museum of Osaka history with a great portion devoted to the 'Summer of War' when the original castle was burnt down. There were also family histories and the history of the building of the castle. On one of the floors they had many different Japanese generals' helmets you could try on for like $2. I tried hard to get Minori and Nobuko to do it and we could take a group picture, but they refused. They know too well it would go on the web I guess. ^^;
After the castle, we were all starving. There was a fair outside the castle and we walked thru it rather quickly, the best part is when they used an ice machine to 'snow' on everyone. It felt really, really good in the heat. We headed to an okonomiyaki restaurant (probably my favorite Japanese food) and stuffed ourselves. Then we went to the shopping areas of Osaka and had fun looking at everything. I got a couple manga and CDs at Book Off, but other than that I did not shop as I simply had no room in my bag. Osaka is beautiful at night, they light it up almost like Tokyo.
After that it was time to head home, and Minori parted with us. It is really hard to say goodbye to everyone. I really wish I could stay longer, but I guess that would only make it worse. I thanked her, as I thanked Nobuko later, for taking such good care of me from the day I got to Japan till the day I left.
Nobuko and I headed back towards her house, and went to a little festival for the kids where they had lots of kids games. We also ran into her mother, aunt and her aunt's son and his family. The cousins are about my age and have an adorable son. Her aunt bought me and Nobuko shaved ice and we fed a lot of it to the kid. In Japan they often add sweet milk to the shaved ice which I was skeptical about but it is really good. I would have liked to talk to the cousins more as it would have been interesting to talk to someone more my age, but I was just simply whiped out and did not have much Japanese ability.
After playing a few games, (which I suck at) we headed back to Nobuko's house. As we had eaten just a few hours before, we just had beer and snacks and a nice conversation. As it got later, Nobuko and I headed to the computer room (where I also stayed, do they know me or what?) and played on the computer till 3am when we just knew we should sleep. The next morning at 5:30 Nobuko woke me up (did not even hear the 5am alarm from my cell phone, but I had never used that alarm before) and it was off to the train station to leave. It was really hard to say goodbye for the last time. I really didn't want to go. Getting on the train 1 car early because it was about to leave I was an instantaneous celebrity. The whole car was filled with elementary students going somewhere, and they were all saying 'Hello!' to me. I responded to each one then found my seat in the next car and got comfortable. I sent out a goodbye and thank you email (the previous, previous post in Japanese) to everyone, but sadly that used the rest of my prepaid money so I couldn't respond to the responders.
3 hours on the Shinkansen later, I got on the hour train to Narita, and then it was time to go. The plane ride was uneventful, the most exciting things were that my bag actually wasn't over weight (30.2kg 31 is cut off) and I had a vegetarian meal this time. Arriving back in LA, Jeannine and Chrissie picked me up and we had breakfast at Hoff's hut. Then I spent the rest of the day fixing my parents network they broke (broke the power button on my router computer...) so we could all play on the Internet again.
Since then, I have basically been recovering. I promised my body I would sleep when I got home, and it is quite angry at me I am going to work everyday. Still, I let myself rest all this weekend and I hope to be good today. I was all by myself all last week at work which was quite fun, that will not be the case this week. I am fighting hard for my Japanese ability to not disappear, and many of my friends have been emailing me. The thing is I am too brain dead after work to think in Japanese, so I have been lagging a bit (Sorry!)
Actually a funny side note. I told you about having 2 hours sleep the night before leaving. I sent an email to everyone (previous post in Japanese) saying I had fallen asleep on the train and ended up in Hokkaido (farthest north part of Japan) and was now a beer tester for Sapporo.... Almost everyone believed me... The Japanese are so honest and nice it is scary sometimes.
The pictures aren't up yet, I have been lagging, hopefully today. I am going to be moving my server to a new host over this week so there will probably be some outages. Don't worry, my crappy little site isn't going anywhere.