Thousands of Miles from Home


Journeys Into The Japanese Arts

Coming back from Tokyo, I thought I could manage a small break from travel. You know, relaxing times. Suntory times. Instead, I found myself with a large pile of procrastinated Japanese homework and a gun to my head (see picture).

Nonetheless, on a relaxing note, I did find some time to try my hand at Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging. My host mother and Haru-chan (Saeki-san) visited the resident Ikebana teacher in Tai for a little lesson in the fine art. It was my first time with any sort of floral arrangement (omitting times I accidentally kicked, clipped, or otherwise dislodged flowers from my mother's garden and feebly attempted to hide the evidence). I found the whole experience rather freeform and relaxing. If you like geometry (like Euclid) you might get a real kick out of Ikebana. And truthfully, the same goes for people who don't (like me). In a stroke of luck, it happened to be Shoko's birthday on March 17 so I snuck into her house while she was away at a movie and left her the Ikebana and a small note.

Yesterday I set up the slackline in the park once more with Amanda, drawing a large crowd of elementary school students. They were quite shy at first, until a few of the more fearless students approached the line and struck up a small conversation with me (mostly in grunts and whistles, broken English, and occasional Japanese). The "leader" of the boys called back to his friends "It's okay, he's not weird!" which gave me a good laugh. The slackline eventually digressed into a volleyball net, but the Tai neighborhood kids are crafty like that.

In other news Neil and I attacked Takamatsu this weekend with full force. Events of the trip will be omitted again to protect the innocent. However, something to blow your mind: last week Neil biked the distance from Tamano to Osaka (about 250Km) in one day. That leaves my vicariously tired and speechless.

Tonite, after arriving home from teaching an English class, I feasted on some delicious sushi from the supermarket. Tomoya, about an hour after I finished the sushi, inquired if I was still hungry. My whole family ended up driving to a ramen restaurant at 10:30PM just to grab some noodles. Delicious, to say the least, but I don't want to see any more noodles for a little while (the pain!).


  • The Kawai family can be heard around Tamano saying "Get this kid out of here; he is eating us out of house and home. No wonder these Americans are fat."

    By mom, at 1:13 PM  

  • The kid said you weren't weird? What was he smoking?

    By Cinnacism, at 10:54 PM  

  • Those pictures of you playing volleyball with the kids are great!

    By Bernard, at 8:44 PM  

  • hi. i just wanted to say "hi." i linked from someoneelse's page...
    i am from kojima where is next city of tamano. i am currently a student of university of kentucky. when i see your page, it remined me my hometown. although, tamano and kojima are small town,i personally like my town. i guess you could have more fun in kurashiki or okayama.

    enjoy staying in OKAYAMA!!!

    By kojima, at 11:14 PM  

  • I guess I'm page surfing. It seems that you, cinnacism, and Victoria all know eachother.

    I am fascinated by the various arts that the Japanese partake in; it seems to be universes apart from the stock market, the sports, or the other mindless activities people get themselves into here in the US.

    Have you par chance been exposed to Yoga or Tai Chi? I doubt either are Japanese, but if you have any words of wisdom regarding them or any other similar activities the culture around you takes time to engage, I would be interested in hearing about them. I am so overwhelmed by US culture that I am scratching at the walls and life has signaled to me that a change is overdue.

    By the way, it may be too late because you may already be into Shabbos there, but Happy Purim!

    Warm Regards,

    By Zoe Strickman, at 10:48 AM  

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