Continued from here.
American Embassy BBQ—October 19th
On Friday, Kim and I went to a BBQ at the American Embassy compound. All of the American JETs and ALTs from Chiba were invited, but we were the only ones from Minamiboso or Tateyama who decided to go.
It started at 6:00PM, and it was in Roppongi, Tokyo, so I knew we weren’t going to get there on time. It would be a miracle if we did; my contract ends at 4:00, so that gave us two hours to get there. It takes about an hour and forty minutes to get to Tokyo Station by bus, and then from there we had to take a few trains to Roppongi.
On Fridays, I get out of elementary school at 3:20, so I kindasortmaybe skipped out then to catch the 3:43 bus. Unfortunately, that bus was full, so we had to take the 4:13 bus anyway.
We were an hour late. I’m really not used to being late; I usually like to be on time. So far, Kim and I have been very late to every event we’ve gone to. I feel really terrible about it every time, but I deal with it the same way I’ve always dealt with stressful situations (like exams): “Oh well, there’s nothing we can do about it now.” And then I’ll just apologize profusely later.
The BBQ was only from 6:00-8:00, though, so I was wondering if it was a waste of time. (And money—getting to Tokyo is expensive.)
Nobody seemed to mind though. We missed some speeches (in which they apparently told us not to go to Roppongi, which was ironic), but there was plenty of food.
The BBQ took place on the American Embassy compound (where all the American Embassy people live; it’s a nice place). We had a lot of trouble finding it, but when we finally did, we walked right in.
We found the gate, and the man opened the door. In the invitation e-mail, we were told to show our invitations and a photo ID, but he asked for neither.
Kim: “Do you need our invitations?” (She holds hers out.)
Man: (without a glance) “OKAYです.” (It’s okay.)
Once we were inside the gate, I couldn’t help myself.
Me: “Okay, we’re in. Operation: BBQ is a go.”
We even made up spy codenames for ourselves.
We found the grass field where everyone was gathered, and we ran into Ella right away. She stood near Ambassador Roos, who was talking to the diplomat (I don’t know which diplomat, she just called him “the diplomat.” Or was it The Diplomat?). I wanted to meet the Ambassador, because he wasn’t able to come to my Tokyo Orientation, but he was busy all night, and he was a little stressed out over a recent social disaster.
Kim knew a few people, and we sat with them and ended up talking about Pokemon for much of the night. Haha! We also talked about SNL, and one man was from California, so he mentioned the Californians. I confirmed that it was all true, and when he told me that he used to live in Torrance, we started spouting out places and streets. Just like true Californians.
(Seriously. I’ve run into other Californians, and we do the same thing, but if someone from Wisconsin runs into another Wisconsinite, they don’t do this at all. It’s a CA phenomenon.)
While I’m on the topic of true Californian things, let me talk about the food. It was Mexican food!
Richard Mei’s wife (I’m terribly sorry, I can’t remember her name): “We thought, what’s more American than Mexican food?”
I met Richard Mei at Tokyo Orientation at an American Embassy meeting, and his wife had cooked everything that night. And it was amazing. She even made tamales! Kim didn’t know what they were, though. That was surprising! I had to explain what tamales were.
The woman had also made a cake, and it was AMAZING. It had two layers—chocolate and lemon—and it was all made from scratch and it had fancy frosting designs. And the frosting you guys—the frosting! Practically pure powdered sugar. It was DELICIOUS.
She had just come back from the U.S., so she had a spread of candies, too, and she set out bags for us to fill. It was awesome.
The BBQ wrapped up at around 9:00, and Kim and I were afraid that we’d miss our last train, so we hurried to Roppongi Station.
To make a long (LONG) story short, we missed our last train. There was no way to get back to Tomiura.
We managed to at least get to Chiba City, and Kim’s friend Leslie lives in Tsudanuma, which is about a 15 minute train ride from Chiba City. Kim texted her and asked if we could crash with her.
We met Leslie at Tsudanuma Station and walked to her apartment, where she lives with her husband, Taiki, who used to be a yankee.
We stayed up late painting our nails, chatting, and watching (well, using for background noise) this really awful anime on TV that mostly consisted of shower scenes.
Kim and I woke up early to catch the second train (we slept through the first one), and we slept for two hours on the way back to Tomiura.
The whole trip was very expensive. We had originally planned to cheat on the way back to Tomiura. The attendant at our little station is usually gone by 9:00PM, so we can buy the cheapest ticket in Tokyo (130¥) and just walk through (instead of paying 1800¥). But because we missed our last train, we weren’t able to do that. And boy, did we pay.
Adventures in Chiba City—October 20th
Kim and I had planned to go to Chiba City on Saturday, because we wanted to go to Animate to look for Halloween costumes. Kim usually goes to Chiba City on Saturday for horseback riding lessons, so I just tagged along for the ride.
So about an hour after we arrived in Tomiura on Saturday morning, we went right back to Chiba City.
She dropped me off at Chiba Station at noon, and I wandered around the city alone until 6:00, when she picked me up right where she left me. I think the only reason I was okay all day by myself in a strange place was because I had lots of practice doing this—I wandered around Santa Cruz like this so many times (sometimes at night…). The only difference was that this time, it was ALL DAY.
But I least I had my elPhone.
A mall called Parco was close to the station, so I checked that out. It was seven stories tall, and I wandered around for about two hours looking for a red coat for my Halloween costume.
I bought a leather bracelet on a whim and found a store filled with guitars, a Tower Records with American artists (not anything I was looking for though—Regina Spektor, Of Monsters and Men), and a store that reminded me of Aahs! (or Spencer’s). It’s called Village Vanguard, I think. They had some pretty funny American comic book merchandise.
Haha! I was tempted to buy the Iron Man headphones.
And then—I found it.
A red jacket.
The ugliest red jacket I’ve ever seen.
And it was perfect.
It was on sale—twice. It was on sale for 1575¥, and the store was having a storewide 30% off sale. SO DOUBLE SALE. (What does it meeeeeean?)
When I tried it on, it was a little tight around the shoulders (naturally) and the bust, but it is for a Halloween costume, and I wouldn’t be buttoning it up anyway. So I bought it! COSTUME COMPLETE.
The other reason I wanted to go to Chiba City was for art supplies. I’ve been sorely missing my watercolors, which I started to use again in the last year. I finished two paintings in the last six months, so I felt like I was on a roll.
On Thursday, I asked Saito-sensei if she knew of any art supply stores, and she asked Nishida-sensei (the shop teacher). He called an art teacher he knew who had a studio in Tateyama, and they arranged for me to meet with him during my free period on Friday. Whoa! I didn’t expect that. I just wanted the name of an art supply store. It was really nice of them to go this far.
So on Friday, the art teacher visited Tomiura JHS with a catalog of art supplies. We talked about what I wanted and where I should go (with Kamada-sensei interpreting). He showed me some of his paintings. I can only dream of painting like that.
He recommended a store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, but on Friday, I didn’t have time to find it. I asked him about Chiba City, too, but he didn’t know of any. In my internet searches though, I found a store called Yuzawaya.
The Yuzawaya was in Tsudanuma (wasn’t I just there?), but there was a small one in Parco, too. I was a little wary about going to the Tsudanuma one, because the Parco one was very small and only had sewing and knitting supplies. I debated for a while, but I finally decided to chance it because I had so much time to kill anyway. So I hopped on a train and walked around Tsudanuma.
You guys. I want to live in Tsudanuma.
The area I was in had excellent shopping—it had everything, including (as Leslie later told me) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the Aeon grocery. What. Those are my favorite candy ever.
The Yuzawaya was ginormous. It was four stories, and each floor was huge (I got lost a few times on the first floor). It was like a Joann’s, a Michael’s, and four Palace Arts. It had everything I needed or probably could ever want, as far as art supplies go. It was brilliant.
I trained it back to Chiba City with my new art supplies at 5:00 and waited for Kim to pick me up. She was running a bit late because she was having credit card issues, and when she arrived, she was very tired, so we decided to forgo Animate.
It had been a long two days, and by the time we got to Tomiura (at about 7:30), we were both falling asleep in our seats. We went to get ramen though, because we were both also starving. (Remember my priorities list?)
Kim’s friend Ryan was going to visit, arriving at midnight and staying to hang out on Sunday. Kim said we should have a sleepover, and after stopping by my house for overnight stuff and my car, we went to her house to watch a few episodes of an anime and to wait for Ryan.
We watched Chaos Head (2008), which was made by a company that Kim raves about all the time. It was really good, and I’m going to keep watching it. It’s about a crazy person. No joke. He’s a hikikomori (basically a hermit). And he’s crazy.
After a few episodes, I was exhausted and I wanted to go to sleep—specifically in my own bed, because I was in a mood where I would be most comfortable in my own bed. So instead of staying over, I drove home and fell into bed at the earliest time I’ve gone to sleep in years: 9:30PM.
Shirahama Lobster Festravaganza & Beyond—October 21st
I don’t actually know what this event was called, but yeah. We fished for lobster. It was chill.
Kim called in the morning at 9:30AM to wake me up for our other planned weekend event: lobster fishing. Kim’s coworker told her that they have lobster fishing every Sunday in Shirahama, and Kim figured that since Ryan and Leslie were coming down for the weekend, it was time she went.
It was a beautiful day. I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was. It was dry and cold and sunny—it was perfect. It felt like California, actually. I kept having nostalgic flashbacks to California beach days in June. And the drive there was gorgeous and reminded me of highway 17—which I have never missed so much (or… at all, ever before).
Lobster fishing was hilarious. They had a boat filled with water and live lobsters (that they replenished every so often when people had fished most of them out).
We used bamboo fishing poles that reminded me of the poles my sister and I used to make out of sticks, extra string, and knotted grass (or rocks). We fished the lobsters out of the boat and lifted them into buckets.
Lobsters are really… gross. Ryan pointed out that they were the cockroaches of the sea, which made me want to eat them even less than after I saw them struggled helplessly.
Me: “You guys, I think I’m a vegetarian now.”
I totally wouldn’t survive in the wild.
At one point, I leaned down to whisper to my lobster in the bucket: “It’s okay, I will set you free.” A man standing near me laughed out loud (apparently he understood English).
We took our lobsters over to some guys at grills, and they cooked our lobster for us. It was… very disturbing.
Then we ate the lobster.
It was… weird. But good. We didn’t have any butter, though, so the cockroaches of the sea were a little bitter.
Flower Park, where the lobster event was held, was very beautiful.
The beach looked gorgeous, so we decided to walk down and check it out. A little further down was the beach campgrounds, and I definitely want to check that out some day. Beach camping! Yay!
The beach was gorgeous. It reminded me a little of the beaches in Palos Verdes.
The sand was very large—the shells weren’t broken down to little sand particles very much. We picked up some great shells and climbed some rocks (no tide pools to see, sadly). The water was perfect—I wish I had brought my suit! I wanted to go in so badly. At least I was wearing shorts, so I could wade a little.
Me: “Good-bye. I’m going back to my natural habitat.”
We left the beach, and Ryan wanted ice cream, so Kim drove us to the michi no eki (road stop) in Tomiura (across from the bus station). Miyoshi’s michi no eki usually has a special ice cream that changes every month, so we decided to go to that one instead. We met up with Jeff and found out that the newest special flavor was fig ice cream.
Kim: “You know, that fruit that old people eat.”
It was pretty good though. XD
At Miyoshi’s michi no eki, there is a ring of rocks arranged in cement with a support bar on the inside. You’re supposed to step on the rocks barefoot and it massages your feet as you walk around the circle. Some of the rocks hurt, but afterwards, our feet felt more relaxed.
Some kids were playing on it, turning it into a race that looked like a lot of fun! They ran in opposite directions around the circle, and when they came face to face with another kid, they did janken (rock paper scissors), and whoever won got to continue going the same direction.
As we were walking away, we saw a family sitting at a picnic table. Underneath the picnic table was a pool of water where people could soak their feet. I think we all really wanted to do it, but we had to split.
Jeff left us, but we continued on our adventures in the ‘Boso. Kim and I have been wanting to find a temple that Enoguchi took me, Mike, and Jeff to on our first day. It is red, and it is built into the hillside, but we don’t know where it is. I looked up “shrine” on Google Maps and found one, but it wasn’t the right shrine.
It was still pretty cool! It was Awa Shrine.
It was beautiful. We walked in and did some ceremonial thing at this water basin. You pour water over your hands with a little wooden cup and then drink some of the water from your hands.
There was a board covered in prayers that people wrote. Most of them were about exams.
We also found a war memorial near the back, but we left that quickly for political reasons that they didn’t explain to me very well.
I almost caught a frog against a rock, but when it jumped against my palms, I let it go, surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting—if I wanted to catch it, I would have to touch it. Phht. Stupid. And it’s not like I haven’t touched a frog before. It was super cute and green, anyway.
We walked up some steps to a building outside of which people usually pray (the building in the previous picture). We dropped 5¥ coins into a box, then clapped and bowed and clapped. Apparently we were supposed to pray for something, but like always, I forgot. |D I just… don’t pray. Don’t really believe in it, I guess.
Then we went to get our fortunes. You drop 100¥ into a box and reach into another box to pull out a fortune written on paper.
Kim got a bad fortune, so she tied it to a board with some other fortunes so that the gods might make it good. Mine was okay, so I kept it, and I’m going to ask one of my teachers what it means.
It was getting late, and Leslie and Ryan had to catch a bus back home, so Kim drove them to the bus station.
And thus my long—but fun—weekend ended.
Song of the Day
I feel like the quality of this entry wasn’t great… I’m sorry. Here is some fun stuff to make up for it.
Song of the day: Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy” (1997). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KT-r2vHeMM
Officially the Poem of the Day.
I’ve been trying to avoid talking about politics on this blog (because that’s not what it’s for), but I just have to share this with you, because it is so damn funny.
Go onto Amazon.com and search “binders,” then read the reviews. It’s bloody brilliant. Here are some of my favorites.
And there’s no need to get offended; I like to think that this is just all in good fun. It’s just a meme that came out of something that someone said, much like the Kanye West interrup—
…Ahem. Anyway, here are my favorite Amazon reviews for binders:
Man, Romney is doing for the Presidential Election what Herman Cain did for the Republican Primaries.
Hahaha! I also found something funny about Obama. I shared some Bad Lip Readings before. Here’s a hilarious Bad Lip Reading of Obama:
There’s a Romney one, too, but it’s not as funny as “Trick the Bridesmaid.”
I really want to vote, but I’m a little afraid about how I’m going to get my ballot, and if I’ll be able to get it in on time. I have no idea how voting overseas works. I know it’s possible—I registered as an overseas voter a few weeks ago—but I haven’t gotten a notice or a ballot or anything, and I’m getting worried.
And I can’t ask Kim for help with it, because she doesn’t vote. I was really shocked when she told me this—how can you not vote? I don’t care who you vote for—just exercise your right to do so! Damn!
I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising—she’s from Ohio, the land of the non-voters or undecided voters or the only voters who seem to matter ever. |D
Anyway, this election is just as entertaining as the last one, though I am getting a little worried about the outcome of it… I’m not paying any attention to the polls though. They don’t seem to be very trustworthy. XD
Okay, I’ll stop right there. :)
See you in December! Leave me a comment!
UPDATE: Received my ballot the day after I posted this! Haha! Awesome.
Cast of Characters
Leslie as… a former ALT. She is a friend of Kim’s. She was an ALT for five years with the JET Program, which is the maximum number of years, so now she is in graduate school in Japan. She is also married to a Japanese man, Taiki.
Ryan as… an ALT friend of Kim’s.
Mexican food: Delicious.
Yankee: A Japanese fashion style, usually worn by “juvenile delinquents.” The early Yankees modeled themselves after greasers. I don’t know how that makes sense. It’s Japan; it doesn’t. Here’s the best explanation of the modern yankee that I found: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=yanki
Michi no eki: Road stop.
Janken: Rock-paper-scissors. Japanese people use it really often; it’s used to make a lot of decisions. Maybe Obama and Romney should just do janken?