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2008 July 24

久しぶりです – it’s been a long time! This time it’s actually been a week – my apologies to anyone who’s been reading regularly! I’m preparing to go to Tokyo this weekend, so I’m alternately lazy and rushed. Time to get you caught up, though.

On Sunday evening, I met Tomo and Nita for dinner at a place called 天狗 (Tengu). I had asked to go somewhere very Japanese, and Tengu was perfect; we ordered all sorts of little dishes and shared them, so I got to eat a wide range of foods like yakitori (shish kebab), tempura octopus, cold udon noodles, and katsudon. I even had a Japanese dessert – matcha ice cream with thick sweet rice pastries. Then Tomo and Nita surprised me with early birthday presents, since Tomo was leaving the next day. They both got me Hello Kitty things, of course – Tomo’s present made me especially happy. It’s a Japanese tea cup with all the characters for all the different fish eaten in Japan, along with their translation and pronunciation. It’s so cute! I’ll share a picture of it on Flickr sometime.

Monday was my birthday and a national holiday, but because the next couple weeks are exam weeks, everyone else was busy studying. I took myself out shopping for the day, then made my first alcohol purchase at the convenience store and came back to my room to watch a movie. Thanks to everyone who sent me happy birthday wishes by email or Skype; I got them all the next day, and it was nice to know I was being thought of. It also made me wonder about what a temporal conundrum it is to celebrate the anniversary of your birth 13 hours before the place you were born in reaches that date. At any rate, by now I’ve been alive 21 years for sure.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the VOTAK discussion class met for the last time. We learned some Thai and some Myanmar語; then half an hour after class, we all gathered in front of the international dorm, piled into two cars, and drove over to Prof. Miura’s house for dinner. She really went all out; for appetizers, we had Russian black bread with cheese (real cheese, as Marios said, not just the processed crap the Japanese eat) and crackers with basil yogurt dip, then for dinner we had tempura and something called sushi that was rice and well-chopped veggies and egg and seaweed with roe. Prof. Miura’s house shows that she’s traveled a lot and enjoys foreign things; the central piece of furniture in the living room was a La Z Boy that she’d had a store in Tokyo import for her, and the Japanese students were all quite taken with it. We had a lot of fun. Plus, I presented Prof. Miura with some gifts for helping me with my research, and she seemed to like them alright, so that was a relief.

Today I started buckling down and packing and making plans. I’ve arranged to check out of the guest house on Saturday morning – campus is nice, but this room isn’t so great, and I can’t wait to leave. I had reserved a room in a hotel across from the station for the evening, but it looks like I’ll be calling to cancel that tomorrow; Asami stopped by this evening and invited me to visit her parents with her Saturday night, so I’ll rent a coin locker for some of my luggage at the station Saturday morning, travel with her by car to their village 30 minutes north of here Saturday evening, then take the train back early Sunday and get my luggage out before starting out to Tokyo. In Tokyo, I’ve made a reservation for a different hotel in Ueno – Business Inn 23 Ueno – that’s a little more convenient from the Ueno station and a little cheaper than the place I first stayed in. I’ve got a Western-style single with a private bath; the reservation didn’t specify if there’s Internet available in the room, but it’s ¥100 per hour to use the PC in the lobby, which probably means there’s an ethernet jack in the room. Which reminds me – I have to not forget my cable!

I’ve started packing, of course; i’m going to the post office tomorrow morning so that I can pay my housing bill in cash tomorrow afternoon and to see if I can mail off some of the heavier, boxier items in my possession. Books, plates, lacquerware – perhaps even my geta, since they’re boxed up. My luggage is going to be heavy enough already; I’m debating whether or not to buy a duffel bag to spread the weight out a little bit. So that’s tomorrow – going to the post office and ATM, paying my room bill, finishing packing, getting a second piece of luggage if necessary, canceling my hotel in Kanazawa, and emailing everyone to arrange goodbyes. 

The one thing I haven’t gotten done, of course, is the paper Prof. Miura assigned me. I was supposed to be writing it after dinner, but then Asami came by… hopefully I can still get it done tonight and get it out of my hair. (And speaking of hair, mine has grown out again, and I’m really thinking of getting it cut on Saturday…)

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