Thousands of Miles from Home


Star Wars

At Kendo I usually practice with two other guys; Asama and Ueno. Asama is the captain so he tells us what to do, but the setting is real laid back so we sort of direct our own training. Recently I have been trying to figure out the foot-shuffle maneuver that follows a hit. But anyway, we are on the second floor practicing kendo, and below the kendo jo is the judo jo where five guys throw each other around for a while after school. Next door to the kendo/judo building is where the band practices. For about two weeks they have been working on the same Disney medley, without a whole lot of progress. So while I practice my swinging style various bits of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid drift through the windows. I'll tell you "A Whole New World" on the clarinet is only good for so long, so needless to say it was starting to get a little old. But today, out of nowhere, just as we're getting ready to start swinging practice, two trumpets start belting out the beginning of the Star Wars theme. The rest of the band joins in, and they're really good. I had to laugh. They had been practicing Disney forever, and from thin air comes this. Hopefully the Cantina band is next.

But what have I been doing recently? I sort of took a break from the internet and starting hitting the japanese really hard (language, not people). There was no japanese school last wednesday, so I finished a ton of homework. Shoko likes to help me with my studies (or does a really good job pretending to) so in the evenings I explore particles while she corrects my work. Then I help her with english, but she really doesn't need it. On saturday I went to a kimono fashion show at Miyama ko-en (a large park/garden near our house). The fashion show itself was held in the "english garden" which was quite impressive including many gazebos, exotic flowers, and statues. The show was geared toward what I will call "reborn kimonos," old kimonos which have been transformed into jackets, dresses, handbags, and who knows what else. The kimono fabric is wonderful so everything made from it looks great, with an old texture from the aging process. After the fashion show Shoko and I walked around the trails in Miyama park, which are about as numerous as those at Cooper's Rock. We walked 5Km, talked a lot, then got tired and went home for ice cream.

On Sunday, Shoko, Masatoshi, and I went to Okayama to shop. Shoko bought some jeans, and by chance we found a calligraphy art display. It cost 200 yen to enter but just as we were about to pay some woman gave us three tickets for free. I couldn't read any of the writing on the calligraphy, but there were so many displays. At least 150 pieces. After that Masatoshi and I went to a kendo shop where I bought myself a Kendo gee (hakama, the skirt-like pants, and dogee, the judo-like top). All royal japanese blue, really cool looking. Much better than a gym outfit, which is what I had been previously wearing to kendo class. But more about kendo in a later entry because there have been big developments. On the way home from Okayama we stopped in an expensive cake shop where Masatoshi by chance met a guy he went to college with. I had rasberry juice (delicious) and the most extravagant, artistic piece of chocolate cake I had seen in a long time. mmm.

That night, we ate okonomi-yaki (japanese pizza, with crazy ingredients). Reading the "specials" menu, I couldn't help but order "white christmas." This was, hands down, the jewish guy's worst nightmare. Start with cabbage, green onion, wheat, and egg. To this add pork, oysters, and milk. Mix together and fry with mayonaise and a sweet sauce. However, I have to admit that it was delicious, and I wasn't just hungry. I might even order it again if I got the chance, but would probably opt for another dish just for the excitement of something new.

More to come later, but I have to mention that Tanaka-san is an awesome guy. I help him teach english every so often, and so far he has bought me chocolate, a box of sugar cookies, and offered to take me to lunch. And it's a blast to teach, so I can't lose.


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