Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Japanese Adventure I

Hello from Japan everyone!

If you're reading this, then you must be interested in my exploits here in Asahikawa. I hope to be putting up regular posts regarding my happenings and going-ons. I've been here about 6 days so far, so I'll try to do a brief catch-up, but future postings should be more in-depth.

Thursday was the departure day. I haven't flown in a few years, so I thought I was going to die on takeoff from St. Louis to Chicago. After that, I was fine. However, the 12 hour flight to Narita Airport in Tokyo was torturous. My head was pounding from the air pressure, I couldn't get comfortable (or tired) enough to sleep, and they played the same movies/television shows on the monitors over and over and over. Buying a gameboy would have been a marvelous idea (I read a lot, but lighting was rarely good).

Airport security and what not was not bad, but Japan is a strange place. I'm not used to not understanding the people and the language. Anyhow, there was the Busride to Haneda and the flight to Asahikawa, but I slept through nearly all of that. My host family picked me up, and it was rather awkward working through our language barriers, but we arrived at their apartment about 8PM Friday and I went to sleep almost immediately.

Life is an adventure. My host father and his three children (two boys and a girl) rode bikes with me to the university, so that I would know the way. We then went to a science/nature center, which would have been very interesting if I could have understood any of the exhibits.

In the afternoon, I went with the "Hippo Family Club" (think Rotary Club) to the zoo here. St. Louis zoo is much better, but this was neat all the same. They have a roller coaster at their zoo. Weird. Even stranger, those of us americans became surrounded by a group of high school girls fascinated by us, trying to speak the very little english they knew with us. It was bizarre. I don't think westerners come around these parts very often. In the bigger cities on the main island, perhaps, but not here in Asahikawa.

And, I'm going to be around 8 and getting up around 5 or 6. My sleeping habits have not regulated yet, and I'm beginning to doubt whether they will anytime soon.

Sunday I didn't get to go to church, but I was taken to the home of someone from the Hippo club, before being taken to the Hippo Club Welcome Party. It was bizarre, and they fed me all day long. I thought I would explode. Two notes: 1) The Japanese love games, and their games are bizarre. 2) Nato . . . pickled plums . . . super salty, super gross. If ever offered, I would recommend against trying this.

Day one. Showed up at school early in an attempt to find a phone I could use to call home. That turned into a circus.

We had a tour of the campus (it makes ISU look unearthly beautiful . . . at least their dining center has good food) and were taken to a bank to change our money. Then we had our first Japanese lessons. The teacher used very little english, which made it all very frustrating. THAT was when I was hit with home-sickness really badly.

Nothing in the morning, but class again in the afternoon. I'm still confused as all get out by the language, and my teacher. It might be too much to learn in such a short time, but oh well. We had ceramics in the afternoon, which was frustrating. I was bad at art in grade school, and I'm still bad at it now. We made bells, so we shall see (or hear) how mine turn out after firing in the kiln.

After class, the other Americans and I went to downtown to explore the shopping area. It was fun, but frustrating. I can't buy anything fun like video games or DVDs, because I either cannot understand them, or "regional encoding" prevents my home player from playing it. I could buy a DVD player here, but how much trouble would that be? Ridiculous!

Well, I'm sorry this is so short, but like I said, a lot has happened to simply type it all out at once. Future postings will contain more, I promise. If that's not enough, email me and you will get more. I'd love to hear from you!

Signing off for now. Stay tuned for more!

Your friend in Japan,

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