My grandpa just sent some photographs, including these old ones of him in some of his airplanes. Now, the first one is a Cessna 180 that was a little before my time, but it’s pretty cool because it’s sitting right in the front lawn of our house. The second one is a Twin Comanche that I remember flying in dozens of times all around northern Ohio.
Last night I went to a dance festival up in Gifu in a place called 郡上八幡 (Gujou hachiman). It’s a dance festival that lasts a couple of days. The celebrations start around sunset and last until 8am.
It was a fantastic day, up in the mountains so it wasn’t quite so humid. There were about 20 of us or so from Nagoya who met up there. Some of us got there early in the afternoon so we got to take a dip in the cool, swift current of the river (don’t know what it’s called - it’s a tributary of Nagaragawa).
It’s really an amazing event, something that’s been going on for hundreds of years, and everyone participates. Hopefully these pictures and videos can give a glimpse. On the fringes of the area where people are dancing, though, it really reminds me of a summer carnival in the states. Delicious greasy, salty food, silly games that no one can win (Unagi-tsuri), teenagers sneaking around trying to avoid getting caught, doing whatever.
As you can see, I wore a yukata again. I’m getting good at that now.
If you come to Japan, you should try to make it to a bon-odori like this.
I’ve finally finished reading my first complete book in Japanese. (Well, technically, I finished “Kitchen” by Banana Yoshimoto, but that one took me like a year, and I didn’t really enjoy it, so by the end it was just an ordeal.) But this book I really liked, and finished the 221 pages in just a couple months. And it’s the type of book I would recommend for someone learning Japanese if you’re like me: not into manga, prefer non-fiction, and usually read in short spurts. It’s called ”Tetsudo no nazo to fushigi ni kotaeru hon”, meaning, “The book that answers all the mysteries and wonders of railroads”, and it does just what it says on the tin. It’s awesome, because each question and answer is just two or three pages long - just short enough to read on the eight-minute subway ride to work. And it’s all about trains, which I’ve recently really gotten into. People have started to call me tetchan, which I’ll get into more later.
My next one is Haruki Murakami’s first book, “Kaze no Uta wo Kike”, which is translated as “Hear the Wind Sing”. The goal is to get through this one in three weeks.
So people might have been wondering if I passed my most recent kanji test or not. See for yourself:
Circles are correct, X’s are incorrect -’s are, I’m not sure - couldn’t read, maybe? Yes, I failed this time. Just five points short. My weaknesses were synonyms/antonyms and find the incorrect character. I have to take it again now…
Here I am from last weekend wearing a yukata. A yukata is basically a summer version of Japanese traditional clothes. I didn’t do it quite right. Like you’re not supposed to wear a T-shirt underneath. And I didn’t know how to tie the belt, so I just made something up. But of course everybody praises you because it’s Japan and that’s what they do. It turned out, at this yukata party, only four people wore yukatas. And only one male. And only one gaijin. Guess who that was. Me.
But I did win a prize, sort of. Here’s the story: three winning tickets for yukata-wearers, four people. The first two I didn’t win. The last one, a bottle of wine. He pulls out the ticket - I won! I was so proud. But later on, the guy drawing the tickets comes up to me - he’s a friend of mine - and confided in me that he actually pulled the other person’s name, but then switched it, so that I would win. I felt really bad, so I went up to the other yukata wearer and told her that she should really have the wine, since she really won it. But then she said, don’t give it to me now, but how about next weekend over dinner? OK, so what I really won is a date. OK, that’s cool. Here’s the kicker. Later that night, at the sanjikai (third party), I went into this really crowded bar. Too crowded for my tastes, but I had accidentally set the bottle of wine down just before I decided to leave. So today I had to go out and buy the exact same bottle of wine in order to give it to the woman.
We had a nice time. Will probably go out again.
This is my life here.
Last weekend I went to Osaka for a couple of days to visit a former colleague who will be moving to San Francisco at the end of the month. Even though this is like the fifth time I’ve visited Osaka, it’s the first time I’ve eaten authentic Osaka-style okonomiyaki and takoyaki. The okonomiyaki place we went to was absolutely incredible. Lot’s of fat and salt and all kinds of good ingredients.
Today I took the Kanjikentei level 4. Now, an interesting thing about the Kanjikentei these days is that, just like almost every other organization in Japan, there is a scandal. Apparently the founder of the society along with several members of his family set up some companies to illegally do business with each other and thereby profit handsomely off all of us trusting test-takers. The latest I’ve heard is that the society has been taken over by some lawyers who have promised to make reforms within 100 days.
A registered letter, basically a notice that they’re lowering all the fees because of the scandal, they apologize profusely, of course, and hope we can continue to participate in the future. And here’s a refund of 200 yen for this round of tests. Woo hoo!
In actuality, I don’t really care very much about this scandal. What’s new, you know. But apparently about 30% fewer people are taking this round of tests. And the number of kids there today bore that out.
As for the test itself, just like with level 5, it will be very very close as to whether I pass or not. It’s exactly how close I am to my thinking whether I should leave or stay here a while longer. I am really torn. Like the difference between 139 and 140 points torn.
My friend and former coworker will be moving to San Francisco this coming August. I am very excited for her, as this is a big, important life change.
If anyone has any leads on places to live (preferably in or around the Mission), and/or a place to crash for a week while she gets her bearings, drop me a line.
UPDATE: she has a place to crash now. If anyone has any leads on an apartment, though, that would be cool.
Changed the look of the blog a bit. Basically just because I decided to update b2evolution. This stuff is getting easier and easier all the time.
Sigh I like it here in my only little world, away from the noise on Facebook, MySpace, etc. Yes, there is the little Twitter thing over on the site, I know. Just enjoying the peace.