Thousands of Miles from Home


To the City Alone

I have somehow managed to keep unusually busy. Yesterday I went to school even thought I had to leave at 11:00 for the Okayama Language Institute. But I did get to go to art class, which was the main reason for attending school at all. I gave the art teacher one of the "blackbear" bumper stickers for his car which is covered in them. He gave me a little plastic rice ball because it's customary to give someone a gift who has just given one to you. Wish we did that in america.

At the bus stop on the way to Okayama a whole troupe of elementary school kids in bright yellow hats said hi to me in english. I asked one boy how he was and he went into this little running fit then said he was "fine, thank you." In Okayama I had some time before the language class so I browsed the winter clothes section of the Credo building, as well as grabbed a bite to eat. I also bought a few books which I had been meaning to read because The Source (a beast at 1084 pages) was drawing to a close. Language class was again very fun, although we are still at a pretty early level. I can read and write quickly now so soon it will all fall into place. Or at least I can study in japanese rather than english which makes me feel like I have accomplsihed something.

After language class Janna, Cori, and I discussed attending a sumo match on the 31st that is going to be held in Okayama. The language shool can get us discounted tickets (in the back, mind you) but it would still be awesome to go. Shoko says that she met a Sumo wrestler in a train station once but Masatoshi doesn't seem to like the sport. Back at the bus station we stopped to eat sweet beans, ice cream, and fruit in one of the numerous underground restaurants. We talked about some of our observations concerning japan which quickly digressed into laughter, and we all agreed that we are enjoying ourselves.

I rode the bus home but as soon as I walked in the door at 6:40 it was off to Kyudo practive at 7:00. We had our last practice with the "large" targets, and next week we will be in the main arena shooting at tiny targets only 1\2 meter across. There was also an american visiting the Kyudo Jo from Colorado who now lives in China. He and his wife practice chinese medecine and also run a small restaurant (acupuncture while you eat). He was a climber in Colorado but has lives in China since 1998. I think he will be at a party we're going to tomorrow.

Today I wore my dress jacket to school because it was a little chilly. But by noon the sun was blazing so it was perfect autumn weather. There was no kendo after school which was a relief because I was feeling pretty busy as it is. There will be no kendo until the 26th when testing is over (apparently there can be no club activities while preparing for the finals). But at 8:00 I went to Tanaka-san's house to help teach some local junior high students english (two girls and their mother, who were shy but smart). I suppose in the back on my mind I have always wanted to be a teacher so the experience was fun. The lesson lasted about 45 minutes and Tanaka-san said he would take me out to lunch for helping him teach. He has been teaching for about a year (for free); his previous profession working for the japanese government sent him to the US, South America, Europe, Asia, and maybe Africa, so he knows many many languages. He spent his time in California so he says he speaks west coast english but I don't think so. And he talks nonstop so he is fun to be around.

We went to the video store and I only wanted one movie but Shoko picked three. Then we found out if was cheap if you got 5 so we're going to watch Donnie Darko (in japanese!) What a thrill (Shoko really liked eXistenZ, surprisingly, and I enjoyed Mystic River)


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