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Of a tired day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/26/2004 7:05:44 AM
This morning I woke up at 7:00 to call my family back home, since they were holding a party and a lot of my relatives were there. It was great to hear all of them! Unfortunately, my voice was pretty much gone from the combination of just waking up and having done a lot of shouting and chanting last night at the Christmas party. *laughs* Ah well, at least I could talk at all. I guess that's something to be thankful for. ^__^ I was pretty tired all day long, unfortunately... going to bed late and waking up early is something best saved for college at home. o_O; *has to laugh*

Pretty much worked on a piece of abstract art I've been rendering for a little over a day (I kept on noticing mistakes that needed fixing, but I think I finally got it right... I should hopefully have the final product up for tomorrow's entry). Studied a little kanji in the afternoon, too, and took a nap... wow, you know, I really didn't do a whole heck of a lot today! *laughs and wonders where the time went*

Dinner was a big sushi and sashimi Christmas dinner. Interesting piece of sushi I had: hamburger sushi. Hamburger? Yeah... Papa hadn't really heard of it either. *laughs* Fortunately, it was actually cooked meat. No raw beef for me. o_O

After dinner I brought down the presents from home and everyone (except Natsuko, who was off at work) opened their stuff. They seemed quite happy! Saki-chan immediately started playing with the pony set my parents got her, and started eating the Simpsons Pez after I filled 'em up. Just five minutes ago she was reading the ABC book along with Papa in his bedroom... so cute! She still has a fever, but after dinner she perked up quite a bit. Even drew a picture of me! *laughs* Little girls are so cute. I hope I can have a nice little daughter some day. The Yoshitakas gave me a new year doll... I can't remember the name, though I'm sure as soon as some of my friends or Japanese teachers back home see it they'll know exactly what it is. I put it next to my Lego Bionicle dude and my picture of Kristin, Mom, and me. Getting a nice collection of things there. ^__^

Well, I'm going to take a bath, work on this picture... maybe study some more kanji. Oh, and play piano, too. I'm in a very abstract/retro mood right now: I'm browsing through all sorts of abstract art online, and I have a hankering to play all these old classic NES and Atari games and stuff. Maybe I could try to do some speed runs. That would be fun. Time-consuming, but fun.

I'm going to be going to the doctor's tomorrow again, probably to get my patch removed (finally). I hope everything clears up... because dang it, I want to go do some DDR! *laughs* I'm planning on going to the supermarket tomorrow anyway, so maybe I'll go and check out the game center to see if they have DDR there (and play if so) and then hit up Itoyokado for some more OJ and something to cool me off if I end up DDRing. Coo.
3 replies

No title
Posted by: badcheeso 12/26/2004 2:12:16 PM
Hi Greg! It was wonderful to talk to you yesterday..and the day before! Hope all is well with your check-up! Glad everyone enjoyed the gifts. The only thing..I bet the socks I got for Natsuko are too large, but they come in one size over here. Altho I guess I could have gotten a children's size for her! Love you!***Mom
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The gift for Papa-san
Posted by: badcheeso 12/26/2004 6:32:49 PM
Just wondering what papa-san thought of the "mix" we gave him. Mom bought a japanese cooking book and it had japanese whiskey in it but i was wondering if he knows what "scotch" is? i know you don't exactly know what it is but you know it's alcohol. let me know because i was thinking of bringing a small bottle of it as a welcome gift.

1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 12/26/2004 9:45:13 PM
Papa hasn't tried any yet, but he did seem interested. I'm sure he wouldn't mind trying any stuff you might happen to bring over. ;)
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Of a day out

Location: Yoshitaka residence - dining room 12/27/2004 6:56:08 AM
Just got done showing off my Japanese studies and computer stuff to Papa's mother (I guess that would make her my host grandmother?), and now I'm sitting at the table while they all talk about using benzene on the cut on my head. *laughs*

But yeah, to start from the beginning, Mama and I went to the doctor's office this morning for what I thought was going to be the last time. He took off the patch as I figured he would, but he put a new one on... I guess it's not completely done healing. He did say, however, that I could take it off in three days, and that I should come back once more next year. He also mentioned "benjin" (which I later found was "benzene"), which appears to be the topic of conversation now. I doubt we'll be sticking benzene on my face, but... yeah. Randomly amusing.

After getting home, Saki-chan and I read an alphabet book my parents had gotten her for Christmas. It has the letters behind these little sliding tiles with pictures of animals and things and stuff on them, with the name of the whatever behind the tile. Okay, that was a horrible description. But yeah, it's a cool book, and she's totally into it. Very cute to hear her say things like "grapes!" and "whale!" and "yo-yo!" *laughs*

Went shopping afterwards to pick up some OJ and a couple other things. The OJ I got is absolutely delicious. It's Minute Maid "Orange and Mandarin", and man I've already drank more than half a carton already! I may have to go out tomorrow and buy some more because it's so yummy and I know I'm going to glug it all down really quickly! Prior to shopping, I walked around the town for a while and stopped in the local arcade to see if I could find a DDR machine. Unfortunately, there wasn't one there (rats), though I did find a bunch of awesome-looking dragon-trainer games and... well, lots of dragon-related stuff. Very neat... I'll have to get some pictures sometimes. Arcades here are absolutely awesome; if I was an arcade junkie, this would be Nirvana. I did try out Guitar Freaks, Drummania, and Pop N' Music, though, which was fun. GF took a little while to get used to, DM would have been more fun had I selected a harder difficulty level, and I overestimated my skill at PnM and got totally owned. *laughs* No matter how kiddie-ish the game looks, when you've got nine different buttons to hit it can get really confusing really fast. I'd like to practice PnM more, but the machine there is 200 yen for three songs... WAY too expensive. I'd actually rather find a BeatMania machine because the songs there are more "hardcore" so to speak. More hard trance as opposed to Japanese girls singing stuff. *has to laugh* I know I saw a few in Shibuya; perhaps I'll hit those up when my parents come over to visit.

Interesting observation while walking: vending machines that sold... get this... batteries. Dry-cell alkalines. Wow.

The rest of the day was pretty much spent studying some kanji and sleeping. I need to get cracking on finishing my Dragon Films update, since I have some other website jobs right on the horizon that would necessarily consume time I could otherwise spend on DF. In fact, today I got an e-mail from the contact at InterStructure saying he wanted to meet me sometime next month. So... the clock's tickin'. Get it done, Gerf!

Speaking of getting things done, I finally finished that picture I had been working on for so long! You can find it in the "graphics/art" section of my site... it's called "Auric Dragon." I'm quite proud of it. Special edition coming soon... perhaps. ^__^ 0 replies

Of website mania day

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/28/2004 9:24:53 AM
And I dub today... website mania day! *laughs* Formulated a conceptual database-generated menu system for a website I will soon be working on, played with some new layout ideas for said site, and managed to unify several separate pieces of code on Dragon Films into one central system that is flexible enough to handle all sorts of things! Instead of having separate code to handle displaying movies, directors, updates, and the listing of all of them (among other things), there is one engine that does it all... and it even puts in "pages" so you're not looking at a bajillion things at once! It's really neato. *is going to need beta testers soon-ish...*

Mama put me to work today, too, though I was glad to help out. Yesterday the deliveryman brought (among other things... the Yoshitakas get so many packages!) a box with a shower filtration system in it, and today Mama asked me to set it up. I couldn't read all of the instruction manual, but there were pictures and when I wasn't sure of something I was able to understand most of the instructions well enough to get everything in place. The bathroom has significantly more hoses and things in it now (e.g. a hulking water filter), but now we're gettin' clean water up there! I also carried a rather heavy bag of rice next door, and carried an even heavier one back. Fun fact: "next door" involves climbing a flight of curving stairs. *laughs* It's good to feel wanted... or at least it's good to think you're wanted, anyway. ;)

Watched the end of Princess Mononoke during lunch, too. That movie is absolutely fantastic.

Mama had said there was going to be a get-together at 5:30 with a bunch of people who spoke different languages, and I took that to mean it was going to be at the house. When 5:30 came, I was expecting people to start filing in... but that didn't happen. Instead, Mama asked me to put some cakes in the car. So I did... and then she said I could sit in the front. Wh-wha? I had no idea we were going somewhere... otherwise I would have brought a few things I normally have in my pockets, plus I wouldn't have worn sandals! *laughs* As it turns out, we went to this foreign language club (essentially) that had a bunch of families (with LOTS of hyper little kids), many of which were hosting foreign students or were sending their students off to other countries. One of the women there explained that they spoke a combined total of about nineteen languages in the club. Holy cow! And do many people there knew so many different languages... it was quite overwhelming! I gave some self-introductions in Japanese, English, and extremely broken Spanish (I'm so embarrassed now... I spent four years learning Spanish and now I can barely speak it anymore: every time I try to make a sentence, I order it like I would a Japanese sentence, which is not Spanish at all!). Potluck dinner, amusing games, pretty good time. They meet every Wednesday, and I realized, "Gosh, my free time is going to be vanishing like smoke soon." I have several jobs on the horizon, all of which may very well spill over along with the sunlight of the new year's sunrise, as well as promises with the Onishis and Munii-san to meet and speak English as often as I can. Yipes! I might have to cut back on some of these "extra-curriculars." Dag yo, that's a phrase I NEVER thought I'd hear myself saying. Me in extra-curriculars? Preposterous.

Well, time for me to go back to my usual muggling. I really like being able to be in Japan yet still be me... and "me" is a guy who spends a good deal of time sitting around and doing stuff on the computer. My family doesn't complain that I don't do anything, I don't feel like I'm wasting my time here, and I'm getting a heck of a lot of stuff done... and on top of that, OJ is everywhere! *laughs* Michiyo-san did a fantastic job of placing me with a family that fits me PERFECTLY. Or, rather, I fit THEM perfectly... since I'm part of their family now. I'm part of quite a few people's families, come to think of it, some here in Japan and some back home in the States. Gosh, it's going to be so hard to leave my families here behind come June. Best not to think about it right now. *nods*
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Of SNOW!!!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/29/2004 6:47:51 AM
Guess what happened today? SNOW! First snow I've ever seen here. I woke up at 8:00 and it was coming down as a sort of rain/snow mix, but after eating breakfast and napping for another hour I looked out the window and actually saw some accumulation. It pretty much snowed all day long, which was pretty cool. When it rains here, it rains all day. So I guess it logically follows that when it snows, it snows all day, too. ^__^

Other than the snow, though, really nothing super-interesting happened today. I spent a lot of time huddled up with my futon quilt in my room (the windows here provide little insulation from the cold, but it's not so bad that I need to use my room's heater), doing stuff on Apsu. Nothing nearly as useful as yesterday... more "miscellaneous" stuff. But that's a-okay. Some days I just need to relax a little. I did help the grandmother next door take some stuff out of the attic and bring downstairs into their shop. I had never been in the shop before, but even after going in there I STILL have absolutely no idea what the heck goes on in there. There is all this machinery everywhere, crates of metal filings, things that look like shell casings for automatic weapons... no idea what goes on there, but whatever it is, a LOT of it goes on! *laughs*

Mr. Yoshitaka's mother is still here (she's been staying in the tatami room), and we ate dinner with her again. She's fun to talk to... just a very sweet old woman. The way she speaks is totally feminine, too: she uses "wa" instead of "desu" all the time, which is a very feminine speaking style, among other things. It's nice to have her around. During dinner we watched a TV special of bloopers, and some of them were quite funny. Obviously, the family laughed at a lot of the Japanese jokes and such that I didn't really get because I was either not paying enough attention or I just couldn't understand, but my chance to laugh while they sat relatively silent came eventually. In one of the outtakes, a Japanese woman walked up to a chalkboard and began writing F*** YOU! in really big letters, perhaps to the class or something (it was obviously for a TV show or movie or something). However, the first time around, her chalk broke before she could write the "K", and I laughed and said to myself, "Whew, good thing she didn't finish writing that!" Little did I know there was a SECOND outtake where she DID write the whole thing, but this time the chalk broke on the exclamation point. I was dying with laughter from my seat while the rest of the family (well, minus Papa, since he's been working late as usual) sat there not really knowing what was so funny. I tried to explain that that phrase is... um... very, very bad, but I was laughing too much to explain anything coherently. *laughs* Wow... I guess dirty language is only dirty if it's a language you understand, huh? Otherwise, it's fair game for primetime television! *laughs yet again*

Whoo. Too much OJ. Or something.

Tomorrow sometime I'm going to take off my eyebrow patch and see what it looks like now. Hopefully I won't have TOO big of a scar... or if I do, hopefully my eyebrows will more or less grow back and cover most of it up. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it... or something.

I realized recently that my style of writing here is very conversational and doesn't always follow the rules of proper grammar. For those of you who don't necessarily know me that well, I don't write this way when I need to do an official document or something. When I'm doing something other than journaling, my sentences don't include actions *waves arms wildly* or end suddenly. And continue choppily. Like that. I guess you'd have to talk to me in person to really understand why I write the way I do, because when I'm journaling like this I write the way I talk. And a lot of times, that includes very non-standard grammar, much like this sentence that began with "and." If for some strange reason you want to see how I NORMALLY write, drop me a line and I'd be happy to send you some old writing samples. I have no idea why you'd want to, but... you know, just in case. ;)

Hep hep hep. Hep hep hep. Hep hep all the way.
2 replies

No title
Posted by: badcheeso 12/29/2004 1:33:06 PM
So, Greg, is the tune to the "hep hep hep hep hep hep" the same as "jingle bells, jingle bells?" You must be excited to see the snow !
Love ya***mom
1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 12/29/2004 6:20:39 PM
Yes and yes.
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Of lots of rice

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/30/2004 6:56:00 AM
2004 is almost out the door! Yipes! And if you say that in Japanese, it doesn't rhyme nearly as well! HOW ABOUT THAT!? *coughs* Ahem.

So, yesterday Papa had said that tomorrow (as in, today) I would help in the making of some traditional New Year's food called omochi. I thought I'd be doing that for dinner... but no, from 10:00 to 1:00 I was next door in the shop helping and watching the making of the things! *laughs* The shop, by the way, is for making parts and such for screws to go into... I don't know what their names are, but Dad probably does. Like, things you'd use in construction to screw other things into. Yeah.

But anyway, I helped Papa carry down two big barrels of rice, and we ended up using ALL of it for the omochi! That's a LOT of rice! Basically what you do is steam it so it's nice and soft, then you spoon it into this machine that looks sort of like a meat grinder but not quite. It smashes the rice into a thick, sticky paste, which comes out a little tube. You then take the paste and do whatever you want with it: you can form it into sheets, make blobs or bread-like "loaves", or just yank off a chunk and eat it. You can then either leave it as it is or stick in sweet beans or wrap it around an "an" ball... there are lots of things you can do with this stuff! One traditional way of eating it is to pop a blob on a plate, put some daikon and soy sauce on it, and eat it. Really sour/bitter from the daikon and sauce, but pretty good. I especially liked the "anko" balls, since they contain my favorite sweet bean paste. Mmmm. ^__^

And let me tell you: those things are FILLING! Thankfully Mama asked me if I needed a lunch and I said no... otherwise I seriously wouldn't have been able to eat more than three bites. Yipes.

All that really heavy food in my stomach coupled with working for three hours (plus helping to take down Christmas decorations) really wore me out, so I took a nap later on. I wasn't planning on doing so since I knew tomorrow I'd be staying up really late and potentially be traveling, but because of the recent snow the Kobayashis are instead going to come over here and we'll have a New Year's party here. That's both good and too bad, since it means I won't have to spent a ton of money and time traveling (not to mention suffer the after-effects of traveling; my body does not enjoy traveling much) while at the same time it means I won't be able to experience a famous New Year's ceremony. But hey, I'll be with family, so that'll be cool. ^__^

The pictures in the photo album contain shots from inside the shop and how we made the omochi. The last picture is a shot of a plate of sashimi we had for dinner. I came downstairs and saw this empty plate with a bowl of something in the middle, and Mama said, "Ooh, Greg, you'll want to take a picture of this." What, an empty plate? But upon closer inspection, I saw that it was actually VERY thinly sliced sashimi. Mama said it was really expensive... as sit should be, since it was not only nearly invisible but it was also very delicious. Mmm.

Tomorrow's going to be a pretty full day it seems. Whoo.

Also, in case anyone noticed, I made a slight modification to the journal archive display on Now instead of showing ALL of the journals at once, it only shows ten at a time and gives you the option of scrolling through them. I got tired of the insane download times of that page (even on my broadband Internet connection!) so I imported some code I'm using for the new Dragon Films, changed a few lines, and let it rip. I think it rips quite nicely. ^__^
Photos: Snow and Omochi 2 replies

No title
Posted by: badcheeso 12/30/2004 8:51:46 AM
Whqt a beautiful plate of invisible sashimi! Is sashimi a fish? And I'm wondering if it comes like that or if Mama sliced it so thin? What is in the bowl in the middle of the plate?
Just curious!***Mom
1 reply

Posted by: Gerf 12/30/2004 8:00:46 PM
Sashimi isn't a kind of fish, but a way you prepare fish. More specifically, sashimi is raw fish, or any sort of raw meat for that matter: shrimp, eel, squid, fish eggs, horse, and whale are just a few other meats/seafoods that the Japanese serve sashimi style. This particular kind came super-thin like that... and I don't know what was in the bowl. I think it's some sort of fish skin, but I can't remember.
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Of the end of 2004

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 12/31/2004 7:56:50 AM
Dun dun dunnnn... the last entry of 2004. BADADABUMMMMMMMMM!

Today it snowed... and snowed... and snowed! Across Japan, many places got quite a bit of snow! Some spots got as much as 80 centimeters (which is a little over two feet). Holy cow! Soichiro went out at one point to sweep away the snow... and from my vantage point, it looked like the poor guy was sweeping away snow only to have it instantly be snowed right back! *laughs* Aside from a ton of snow, though, nothing really big happened today. At least, not until the evening when the Kobayashis came over.

And before I continue, I want to fix my silly mistakes once and for all: I'm pretty sure now that the Kobayashis are related to Papa as siblings (well, one of them, anyway... I don't know if the man or the woman is related to Papa, but one of them definitely is). I finally came to this conclusion because not only are they about the same age as Papa, but they also call Papa's mother "mother" as well... which may or may not necessarily mean a relation, but it really gives me an inkling.

But yeah, anyway, they came over and we had a big celebration feast. Lots and lots of food, and tons of dessert to go with it! Whoo. I'm fuller than I should be right now... somehow or another I'm going to have to try and grab a nap. All during the day I did a lot of talking: at lunch I talked with the grandmother a lot (who, by the way, is the perfect example of a sweet, kind old Japanese woman), and during dinner I spoke with the Kobayashis a great deal (primarily Mr. Kobayashi). We did a lot of "English school" stuff; apparently Mr. Kobayashi is learning English on his own, so he tried his best to speak in English when he could. I made some really hilarious jokes that made everyone laugh hard, which was great. We also laughed a lot when Mr. Kobayashi tried to say "vocabulary" and it came out "boku wa Kerry," or "I am Kerry." That was drop-dead ROFL there. It took me a while to regain my composure.

Too bad we didn't record the entire conversation, because we talked about so many things. But I guess if life was meant to be recorded all the time, there would be cameras all over the place. But since this isn't the Truman Show, some things are just going to have to be lost in time, like they were meant to be.

Around midnight we're all going to go somewhere to witness the new year. So, sadly, I won't be drinking OJ as the new year swings by. However, there are a lot of things I've been doing differently since coming here (like eating mushrooms for one... whew) so I'm not going to count that against my "tradition." I don't know what to expect quite yet in terms of what I'll be seeing and such, but I'll have my camera and will try to get as many pictures as I can.

This has been a wonderful year. 2004 has shown me many new things about myself and others that I never knew before, and it has been very, very educational. Educational isn't a good word, actually... more like "moving." In Japanese, perhaps Š´“®‚µ‚Ü‚µ‚˝ ("kandoushimashita") would describe it better. 2004 has taken what I knew about myself and enhanced it beyond what I would have thought. Thanks to all my family, friends, and loyal readers of this journal who have made my year such a moving one. I'll see you all in 2005. *bows*
1 reply

Snow gone 2004
Posted by: badcheeso 12/31/2004 6:29:35 PM
As you have lots of snow, we have very little left. It got to 50 today and some rain. Almost all the snow is gone. Only in the sheltered places is there snow. Snow Gone.

2004 Gone.
We're getting ready for the Van's party. Like mom told you it will be small, not many attending but we'll have fun. Kev wants me to instruct him how to buy a used car.

2004 gave us a lot of changes and good things. Not too much grief. We're employed, schooled, healthy, happy, well make it content.

2005----what do you have in store for us?

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Of 2005!

Location: Yoshitaka residence - dining room 1/1/2005 6:37:18 AM
Happy New Year!

Whew... today started early and ended... well, it hasn't ended yet. But it probably will end late, like at 12:00 midnight as days normally do. Just goes to show you that even though the number we write for the current year may change, it's not like the world is suddenly abiding by different physical laws or something. 2005 isn't the axe to 2004... it's simply the continuation.

Anyway, Dick Clark didn't bring in the new year for me this time (though, apparently, he didn't for anyone else, either... Regis took care of that). Instead, I watched as monks in a temple rang a titanic bell with a log like a battering ram to bring in the new year. It was actually quite a cool experience: at 11:45 (er, I mean, 23:45), there were all these American-ish things on TV with people singing and dancing and everything, but all that ended and instead of crowded auditoriums the view went to temples shrouded in a silence broken only by the tolling of said bells. Very, very cool. They rang the bell every minute or so, and the final ring was the new year. No balls or flashing lights... just a toll like all the ones beforehand. And afterwards, no clapping or cheering... only the resonating bell and a lot of praying. That's how a new year should be.

With OJ, of course. Yes, I managed to keep my tradition alive and drink my year-end/year-start OJ! *laughs*

After that I sat at the kitchen table and napped/studied kanji until 1:30, at which point Natsuko and I went with some people who work in the shop next door to a temple in Higashiyama (which looks a LOT like Cleveland... reminded me a lot of home, especially since we were listening to radio that was all in English). The trip took an hour and we stayed there for an hour, so I didn't get back until 4:30! *laughs* While we were there, we did the traditional praying and writing good wishes on wooden sticks, and then browsed around for food and gifts. The lady we went with bought me a charm that is supposed to be good for studying (it's hanging on my door handle right now), and later some あま酒 ("amazake," sweet sake, which tasted like some sort of sweet milk or something) and 大阪焼 ("Ôsakayaki," stuff from Osaka that tasted a little like okonomiyaki), while everyone else got some different stuff. It was really neat. While we were there, someone in the temple was ringing a big bell like those on TV; apparently there are 108 evils in the Bhuddist religion, so they ring the bell 108 times to dispel them all for the new year... or something like that. I'm no expert, that's just what I heard. ;)

Woke up at 8:00 as usual, but decided to roll back over and go back to sleep until about 10:30. It's actually kind of a good thing I didn't have a breakfast, because not only had I eaten a lot the night before, but we had a huge feast for lunch, too! I don't know the names of everything we ate, but it was a hefty amount. Got some New Year's gifts from my host parents, the Kobayashis, and the grandmother; I won't say the total amount for fear of breaking some sort of Japanese protocol, but I will say it was well over 100 dollars cash. Whoa.

After lunch we all went walking around Higashimurayama to two local shrines. I had been to the second one before, but not the first one. In any case, though, they were both really neat. I did the traditional throw-money-into-the-thing-and-ring-the-bell-and-pray (I'm a gaijin and have no idea what the correct names are) and... well, walked around and saw the cool sights. Sorry... can't really explain a heck of a lot more, since so much happened today and I'm tired right now. *laughs*

When we got home, I gave Kristin and my family a call, the latter being at my friend's house. I brought Apsu into the dining room and hooked up some speakers so everyone could both talk to and hear my family and friends. I had to do some translating here and there, but my host family here really enjoyed it. Skype is totally awesome, and if anyone says otherwise, I'd like to hear why.

Random thought: I'm watching a track-and-field event where they throw barrels over their heads backwards over 7-meter-tall walls. Never seen that before. *laughs*

After the talk, Papa, Natsuko, Soichiro, Saki-chan, and I hopped in the car in hopes of playing some DDR. We went to the arcade I had went to a few days ago, but obviously there was no DDR there. Natsuko said there was a machine there before, but apparently they took it out recently. Instead, we went in a photo booth and got some really funny photos taken... I'll have to take a picture of them sometime and post them, or wait until I return home so I can scan them. They're great. ^__^ Since there was no DDR machine there, though, Papa drove Natsuko, Saki-chan, and I to Tokorozawa, where Natsuko said there should be one since there are tons of arcades there. We searched through two to no avail, and Natsuko asked an attendant there who said there weren't any in all of Tokorozawa. What a drag! I know DDR lost popularity in Japan a while ago, but I didn't think it was THIS bad! *laughs* I guess I'll just have to do some DDRing every day after school from now on, since there's one near the Takadanobaba station. Instead, I played some BeatMania and Pop N' Music. I hope I'll have more opportunities to play those games in the future, because they're exactly the kind of game I like and they're quite popular here. I'm getting better at PNM... now I can pass three-"bird" songs on the "Enjoy" mode without any problem. Not quite to the four level yet, but I'll get there... eventually. Fun stuff.

On the way home, Saki-chan had to go to the bathroom, but we were walking home and thus couldn't really stop anywhere. We ran a little, but eventually Saki-chan got tired... so Natsuko (bless her heart) hauled her off the ground and ran her back home. I offered to carry Saki-chan if she got too heavy, but Natsuko was good the whole way. My hat goes off to parents everywhere yet again. ^__^

Oh, I almost forgot. The Yoshitakas have two pictures in the hallway near the stairs to the second floor, one for each of the previous host students that stayed here. Today they took the one they'll use for me... which, of course, was on the day my hair was looking absolutely awful! *laughs* I hope the pictures turn out okay, not so much for my sake but for the Yoshitaka's and also for any future host students, since that picture is going to be sitting in the hallway forever now! *laughs*

Arrival home was soon followed by another big meal, during which the Yoshitakas gave me yet another new kind of sake (this was おり酒, "orisake," thick-ish stuff from the bottom of the brew, which was also different from the medicine-tasting sake from lunch) and even more new kinds of food. I won't go into all the weird kinds of food I ate today... it would probably gross quite a few people out. *laughs* Let's just say Japanese people have a very varitable palate! One thing I did eat which is okay to talk about was this kind of orange that is about the size of a shooter marble and, except for the seeds, is fully edible (even the skin). Pretty good!

Forgot to mention again: yesterday Papa got out a bottle of Italian red wine that was shaped like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. As in, the whole bottle leaned. *laughs* We had some more of that tonight, as well as some of the Whiskey Sour we got from my dad for Christmas (which is very good, by the way). Mr. Kobayashi loves alcohol and will get drunk at the drop of a hat; yesterday he said, "Please, drink and get drunk with us!" But I'm happy to say I have not yet gotten drunk, despite the constant refills and insistence to drink more. *laughs* I guess I can hold my alcohol a lot better than I thought I could... and than my host family thought I could! Everyone here is amazed at "how far I've come," since at first I only drank a thimble-sized cup of sake and now I can put away several glasses of wine, sake, and Whiskey Sour without even really feeling much of a buzz. This doesn't mean I'm going to purposely try to drink as much as I can and push my limits even further... rather, it means I'm learning more about myself and what I can and can't do. Call me a wimp if you will, but I have absolutely no intention of becoming drunk. I'd rather enjoy my meal. ^__^

Man, those barrel-throwers are still going. They're at 8 meters now. Geez, that's crazy.

Well, I'm going to head up to the bath pretty soon. First bath of 2005... whoo! I don't necessarily have any specific "resolutions" this year, just a few things I'd like to finish up, enhance, or fix (many of them involving computers, be that a good thing or a bad thing). I do know, though, that this year will hopefully be a year of trying things a new way... living, studying, programming, drawing, working. Lots of things to look forward to... just gotta take it all one day at a time.
Photos: New Year's Day 1 reply

dream catchers
Posted by: badcheeso 1/1/2005 11:36:24 AM

Not everything can be captured and cataloged. That's why we create memories. They remind us of what was....good or bad, and invoke strong emotional responses. Sometimes they are better than pictures or video. I know I still remember some experiences from Taiwan that I don't have on film but are special to me none the less and even if I did have a picture the emotions behind it would not make sense to anyone but me. Such as the feeling you had when Natsuko carried Saki-chan home. Sure we can understand the "act" of being carried but it's the emotion behind the act that makes it special. Perhaps you being there is helping the older children relate to their youngest sibling. They see how you "tolerate" her.

We can only imagine the monks ringing the bell but that's OK too. Solemn events cannot be captured and SHOULD NOT be captured on tape.

To go to another country and live as they do and try to understand them is an honor to them and to you. To go and not "live" with them is an insult to them and to you. I heard someone ask why a person should bother to learn about another culture and why learn to speak some of their language. All I can say is due in part because of the "feeling" of American superiority. We're bigger, stringer, better then them, why should we bother? It's all part of understanding each other. he more we understand the less fear there is. Just as parts of southern USA is still fighting the Civil War, there are people who are still fighting WW2. And they'll never change.

enough dada-ism.

Enjoy 2005 and we are lovingly anticipating our visit with you.

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Of a trip to Hon-Kawagoe

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 1/2/2005 8:38:48 AM
I typed "04" for the date. *laughs* Yep, haven't yet adjusted!

I realized last night (actually, this morning) that I had to read 250-some pages of a book not for the Wednesday three weeks from now but for the Wednesday one week from now. D'oh! So, my evenings will likely now be spent doing reading. And kanji studying. Actually, I'd be doing all that throughout the whole day if we weren't going all sorts of places for the New Year's celebration! *laughs*

Today after another feast-like lunch, Mama, Papa, the grandmother, the Kobayashis, and I went to *takes a bath, watches a game show where these people have raw meat taped to their helmets and they have to push a crate perilously close to a hungry hawk, and retunrs* Hon-Kawagoe (not quite as far as Takadanobaba, and in the opposite direction) to see some temples and shrines there. It was quite packed! We also walked through some old sections of town... you could really tell because the houses were very, very different. They had "OLD!" written all over them, and not, like, decades old... more like hundreds of years old. Check out some of the pictures and you'll see what I mean.

At one of the shrines we went to, I reached into my change wallet and pulled out four coins: a 50-yen piece and three one-yen pieces. If you know what 53 means, you're cool. ^__^ Made me happy to toss it in as an offering and pray. Hmm, I wonder what/who I could have possibly prayed for. *laughs* At that shrine they had free mikuji (fortunes, more or less... I got a good one and Papa said to hang onto it) and sake (which surprised me... free sake? Whoa.), as well as some other stands that looked pretty empty. Just basically walked around and had a good sightseeing time.

Speaking of sightseeing, you can see Mount Fuji from the Higashimurayama station. Holy muggle! I think I now remember Papa mentioning that a while ago, but he said it again today and sure enough I saw it! Wow! I took a picture, too; very hazy, might have to adjust your monitor to see it right. But it's there. Awesome!

Random thoughts and such from today:

- Normally trains are packed full of ads, but today there were none. Instead, there were pictures of temples and waterfalls and cool things like that. Kind of neat... I wonder if it's just for New Year's or if it's like that on other holidays.

- I don't know how many other places in Japan other than Tokyo are like this, but even in places where there are open spaces, there is no grass. Instead, it's either dirt or pavement or gravel... but no grass. Interesting.

- We walked by a gift shop with little handcrafted thingies, and one of them was a little wooden sign with snowmen that said "Snow Happens." Reminds me of a certain bumper sticker. *laughs*

- As I've been able to gather from years of experience, I seem to have a set "lifetime" when I'm out and walking around, be it sightseeing with family or shopping for clothes or doing whatever. After approximately two hours or so, I lose steam at an exponential rate and am just totally ready to go back home, wherever that may be... or at the very least take a nap. For people who are going to be part of my life in the future, keep that in mind. ;)

That's all for today. Enjoy the pictures!
Photos: Trip to Hon-Kawagoe 1 reply

sorry, I'm 53 and don't know what that means
Posted by: badcheeso 1/2/2005 7:35:10 PM
Maybe I'm getting old but I don't know what "53" means. If it's private..... so be it.

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Of batting cages and apple pies

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 1/3/2005 4:36:23 AM
Wow... it feels like 8:00 or 9:00, but it's not even 6:30! *laughs* We ate all of our meals really early today, so that's probably why. Work starts for everyone tomorrow, so I guess it's a good thing we all get to bed early. I know I definitely need to get to bed early... I haven't been getting enough good sleep lately and my brain is all muggled up now.

But anyway, today after a lunch (some fried omochi, essentially) Papa, Soichiro, Saki-chan, and I went to some batting cages off in Higashiyama. Unfortunately, they didn't have any slow-pitch cages... only fast-pitch ones! Yipes! For those of you who don't know, I only play slow-pitch softball; I've never done a fast-pitch league before. As such, I completely whiffed the first four or five balls, sliced the next ten, and made relatively good contact with the next four, and totally hammered the last one. The balls were coming at 100 km/h, and were shot out of a machine that had a screen on the side that displayed video footage of a real pitcher pitching so it looked like I was really being pitched to! It was pretty cool; good visual cue. My hands and arms hurt after that, but it was fun. Papa did a round, too, and Soichiro did three. He's pretty good! *laughs* He practices quite a bit. Doesn't talk a whole lot, but he's a good guy.

Afterwards we went through a McDonald's drive-through, which is more or less like any drive-through in America except the people there are much nicer and you can actually understand them. *laughs* We could really learn a thing or six from the Japanese if we cared to pay atttention! We ate our foodstuffs back at home, and from then I pretty muched talked with friends online and studied kanji until dinnertime, during which we had some absolutely delicious apple pie that Papa had made in the morning. He said it was his first one... and boy, was it good! I took the risk of sounding abhorrently rude and asked for one more piece because it was so delicous. Papa said his second one will taste even better. Don't know how that's going to work! *laughs* Dad, you'll have to bring over some of your applesauce cake to show them, because I told them about it and they were interested.

And now it's around 6:30 and I'm as tired as if it were 9:30 or 10:30. *laughs* Oh well... might as well get some early shuteye. But not without first studying more kanji and reading more of my book. Study study study!
1 reply

applesauce cake
Posted by: badcheeso 1/6/2005 7:09:08 AM
Applesauce cake SLurpppppppp mmmmmmmmm
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Of Mama making yummy food

Location: Yoshitaka residence - my room 1/4/2005 6:26:41 AM
Whew... still feels strange to type a number as low as "01" for the month and "05" for the date. I'm slow, I know.

Speaking of slow, today was pretty slow. Didn't really do much except manage some music, record three days' worth of backlogged dreams I had recorded on my cell phone, study kanji, and read. Mama made some awesome curry udon for lunch, which was followed by lots of strawberries, and all the while I got to talk with Grandma (I'm just going to call her that from now on). Saki-chan was watching a tape with all these Simpsons episodes on it during lunch, too... it's always fun to see TV from back home. Yay for Japan adopting the NTSC standard! *laughs*

*eats dinner and returns* Mmmm, Mama made some very good 天丼 ("tendon," or tempura on top of rice) for dinner... man, that was delicious. Follow that up with salad, strawberries, apple pie, and a fantastic California orange and you've got yourself one happy Gerf. ^__^

That's really all for today, I guess. Don't have much longer in terms of vacation time (less than a week), but hey... it's been a great vacation!
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