Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Things I did this Month

What did I do this month? Well, just for starters...



Picked some 'Japanese' pears. Yum!
梨を摘みました。うまい!


Sayaka came too!
清香も梨狩りに来ました。


Practiced for the sports festival.
体育大会の日を練習しました。


Girls did their special dance.
女性は「ロック・ソーラン節」を踊りました。


Guys did pyramids and games. Everyone ran and had fun getting ready for the big day.
男性はリレーを走ったり障害競走をしたり色々なイベントを出来ましたね。皆さんは走る事と楽しみ事を準備しました。


Played with some of my other students at an elementary school during lunch break.
お昼時に小学校でほかの生徒と一緒に遊びました。


The sports festival came... but we got rained on. Canceled early, yet only after having spent four hours in the rain. Getting drenched was a disappointment, but everyone shined and did their best!
そして、体育大会の日が訪れた。しかし大雨が降りました。ぬかるみになって、4時間後で運動会を中止しました。残念ですよね。

雨でびしょぬれになったけれど、皆さん頑張りました。


Went to Fujimoto-san's 'Hawaiian 'Aloha' Dance' competition. It was the most relaxing sporting event I'd ever been to. (I look like a giant next to these tiny Japanese ladies. Don't mind the giant! Me no eat you!)
藤本さんの『ハワイの』フラダンスの種目を見に行きました。今までの中で、一番くつろげるスポーツ・イベントだと思いました。

【日本人の隣に僕がジャイアントみたいにいたけど、心配しないでください。僕は人間は食べたくない。】


Ate some delicious Chinese food.
おいしい中国の料理と食べちゃいました。


I also saw a beautiful wedding. Lovely couple too, wouldn't you agree?
すばらしい結婚式もまた行きました。二人はきれいだと思いませんか?


Wasted some time down by the dock of the bay.
湾の船のドックのそばでしばし時を過ごしました。


Sayaka and I made some senbei 煎餅 (which are traditional Japanese rice cracker/cakes).
私は清香と一緒に煎餅を作りました。煎餅(せんべい)は日本の「ライス・ビスケット」です。


Took some pictures of some beautiful wispy clouds. It was a blue-sky holiday.
小さくか細い雲(くも)が写真を取りました。それじゃあ、ブルー・スカイ休日でした。

And... that was just the regular stuff.

I also did some 'my personal time' things.

Read: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and the new issue of Shonen Jump!

Watched: Rush Hour 3 (theater), Unfair: The Movie, The Shooter, Sunshine, Casino Royal (again), My Super Ex-Girfriend, The Lucky Number Slevin.

Wrote: An original comic book proposal and pitch for Moonstone Books (am anxiously waiting for my rejection letter).

Practiced: My Saxophone for an upcoming music recital.

Made: Wedding invitations by hand (almost finished!)

Taught: Tuesday Night English Conversation Class, School, and Pro-bono Tutoring

Exercised: At the gym (pumping up!)


((Can you keep up with me?))

And last, but not least... I posted this blog for all of you! No time to catch my breath though, the Japan adventure rolls along and waits for no one. So jump on board and kick it back, enjoy the ride. Have a good weak, and remember, take deep breathes , clear your busy thoughts and as you gain insight via retrospect... have an experience or two. Or three. Learn something new, keep your chin up, and push forward taking it all in stride. Finally, don't forget to enjoy every single moment life has to offer. Peace out.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Nashi 梨 Picking! And Shizen no Mori 自然の森


Nashi 梨 means 'pear' in Japanese. But really, it's more like a giant yellow apple in texture, shape, and size. It tastes like a pear, but otherwise, consider it apple-ish. To cut back on the confusion I'll just refer to this tasty fruit as a "Japanese pear." Which, basically, is exactly what it is. Problem solved!


Sayaka and I went with a group of older Japanese folks for some pear picking excitement on our weekend. Although they often smell funny, older people are fun too. We really have no choice in the matter since there are very few if any young people in our area to hang out with. Let's just say you can count all the young adults in my town between twenty and under thirty with just your two hands. If you're looking for a date you'd be hard pressed to find anybody between high school teenagery and elderly decrepidation.

In an unrelated tid-bit: If you want romance, you'll have to resort to all kinds of twisted perversions (depending on whether you prefer barely legal or extremely old and wearing diapers -that's none of my business), or otherwise import a wife. Which many have done, in my area too, apparently. Just as a side note -many of my students (at least a few in *every school) has a Filipino-mother. And judging by their fathers' very traditional "Japanese" way of speaking, thinking, and doing things... I highly doubt they were at all international business entrepreneur types. More or less catalog online order of they wifey types. But that's just my guess (although it's statistically improbable that they all met via true love accidents).

As such we hooked up with a brave buckeneering bunch of elder explorers and ventured into the hillside to pick the produce which has made my city famous. In fact, when you drive into the city limits you will see the highway sign which has a little yellow pear cartoon caricature wearing a marathon headband and sachet. Sera town is notorious for having the best long distance running team in the country, and also for growing pears, thus the cute little icon. I'll try and get a photo of the little marathon pear for a later post, after all, it's worth seeing and will get a laugh.

Above is the famous European style Shizen no Mori "Nature's Forest" Youth Hostel.

After our pear-picking we went to a famous gelato place called Dona which sells home-made gelato ice-cream. Made fresh from the tit of a plump round Sera-cow. The Japanese are fond of claiming their 15 minutes of fame. If there is something worth bragging about, or just mentioning as a conversational piece, they never forget to inform your of why or what their particular region is famous for. Every region is famous for something, and after that is established the city governments of those regions dumb huge funds into sponsoring the project.

In the case of my town they've made their Japanese pears a 'tourist trap' for summer travelers. People from all around Japan can come to pick the pears. You basically go the the orchard and pay to rent a tree for an hour and pick all you can eat. You box the rest and pay for it on the way out of the park.

Japanese towns must resort to this sort of exploitation of their countryside just to get people to circulate and invigorate an otherwise dormant economy. Japan's self-sustaining mega-cities (i.e. Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, etc.) act like blood clots which cut off the cash flow throughout the country and causing local governments to resort to such tactics in an attempt to invigorate and stimulate the overall national economy. The sad thing is, more often than not, the tactic fails and the city goes bankrupt. Sera made the Hiroshima news for going bankrupt this year, but not too shocking considering that at least ten Japanese towns go bankrupt a week. I my opinion I think Sera held out as long as it could. Now it becomes a political game to see how the national government lends its loans to increase local government spending.

Across the nation of Japan are tourist trap 'ghost towns'. Large theme parks, monuments, and flower gardens abandoned due to budget restraints. This creates interesting and exciting opportunities for adventurous types to take advantage of a situation unique to Japan.

In a nearby area, of one such tourist trap there is youth hostel tucked away on the mountain side in the old Samurai town of Joge 上下. Now if you didn't have a map, you'd never find it in a million years. But due to its secluded nature the Shizen no Mori 自然の森 youth hostel is popular among backpackers (MG YH Address: 470-1 Yano, Joge-cho, Fuchu-shi, Hiroshima, 729-3423. Tel: +81-847-62-3244)

As if pear picking and gelato ice-cream eating wasn't enough we stopped at the Shizen no Mori hostel for a traditional Japanese lunch, or wa-shoku 和食. The above picture is of a portion of that meal, which was very healthy as you can see.

At the youth hostel I found a little Buddha cuddling his little Buddha-girlfriend outside. It was such a cute statue I had to snap a picture. These Buddhist statues, not of the Buddha himself but of other various iconographic religious figures within the folds of Buddhism, litter the Japanese landscape. Each one has a special 'power' to invoke if prayed to. This one happens to be romance! Oh the joy.