Thursday, May 20, 2004

Japanese Adventure II

Greetings fans!

Well, at this point I'm not sure how many of you even know this exists, but thanks for reading all the same. Here's what's been happening lately:

Nothing super-exciting this day. I'm riding my bike everywhere, and so the city is beginning to make more sense, but it still looks mostly the same to me. Oh well, there's a lot of little shops and places to see, so I really want to take a few days at some point to just explore and see what the city has to offer.

We spent this day going to the brand new, three story mall here. They even have a grocery store here (strange, yes). It was fun, but I didn't really want to buy much. Most of the clothing I don't want to buy (although I did get a shirt I really liked), most of the "stuff" is very "American" and consequently of little interest to us, and the music is totally unknown to me. I don't want to just buy random CDs in the hopes that I will like one of them. Well, at least I had fun bumming around the mall with our gakusei escorts. Ha, it was neat, they even played at the arcade with us!

That night, the International Club of the university had a welcoming party for us, which was really neat, although it was kinda strange that nearly all of the students who showed up were girls. In any case, it was fun getting to meet so many people, play more strange games, and make new friends, but I'm becoming more convinced of a mission here. A girl I talked to quite a bit there was wearing a cross, and I asked her if she was a Christian, but she said, no, she was a Buddhist. Lots of people wear crosses here, but it is jewelry probably 95% of the time. This makes me sad, but I need to be proactive in making opportunities to share Christ with these people.

Well, we saw lots of museums today. Let me just say, it was pretty darn dull. Don't get me wrong, I love museums, but I should explain.

First, we saw the International Weaving and Dyeing museum. This was neat, as there was a lot of very old tapestries and pieces of clothing here. However, after a while, you have a hard time distinguishing one 15th century robe from another. And since all of the signs are in Japanese, all we could do was admire. Most everything could have been loin-cloths for all I would have known.

Next was the Snow Crystal Museum. You see, Asahikawa gets dozens of feet of snow during the winter season, so they have a museum dedicated to their snow. Strange. Some of the pictures/videos were really pretty, and I was fascinated by their "Ice Hall", and would have loved to read more, in English, about how the ice shape changes based on humidity and temperature, and the concert hall was absolutely beautiful. But let's face it: it's snow. We've all seen it, we all get it . . . let's move on.

Next was the Folk Art Museum. This was all modern weaving, and it was all very beatiful, but it was just one big advertisement for their expansive gift shop selling hand-woven clothing and accessories in the same patterns costing as much as several thousand dollars. Yikes.

After a quick lunch at a museum restaurant (I had some egg and rice thingy), we saw the city museum. It reminded me a lot of the museum under the Arch. Taxidermy, flora and fauna, historical dwellings . . . . it would have been much more interesting if I could have understood the signs.

Well, after this, we moved on to the Otokoyama Sake (pronounced sah-kay) Brewery Museum. This, again, would have been much better with a guided tour. As it was, there wasn't that much to see, and what we did see, I couldn't understand the signs. Do you notice a pattern here? If you don't understand the language, museums that don't have art are of limited use to a foreigner. We did get to try several kinds of sake, though. Not that I ever liked wine. They even had this super-sweet stuff, and it still was just not good to me. I guess it's something I should leave for my parents.

After all of this, we sat around in the computer lab talking with the Chinese students. This was awesome. We're friends now, and I really look forward to talking to them again. Hopefully, I will have a chance to share some Good News with them. They think I'm very shy. Heh, just wait until they let me talk about Jesus . . .

That night, we had another Hippo meeting. This one was smaller, with no food. Really, it was boring beyond imagination. I know parents love getting out of the house when they have small children, but the running, screaming children, all over the room, made an event that was already confusing and hard to understand even more frustrating for me (I can only imagine how the others handle it). Oh well.

I'm looking forward to this weekend. I have plans to be social with my fellow Americans and the Chinese girls, plus my host family is taking me to a winery in the area (Mom and Dad, here come your souvenirs!). This looks like it will be a good weekend. Just pray for me . . . it's typhoon season here.

Missing you all dearly! Send me email, and your address if you want a postcard!



Ann said...

Hi, Hal-
You don't know me, and I just stumbled across your blog. :) I'm also going to Japan sometime in October. Part of what I want to do is establish some connections between Christians in the US and Japan. Sorry to see you have found so few Christians where you are.
Would you mind sharing your experiences on our company's Englishnetwork website? We're getting a group of people who are interested in Japan to go there, and though the site is oriented to other things besides Christianity, there is a forum for topics that have to do with Christianity. So far I haven't had a lot of response to the Christian Topics part of the forum, but I'm hoping to. Our web site is My name is Ann (anneli on the site)

Ann said...

I also would like to add I can tell you are well-grounded in faith, and you really seem to have your priorities in the right place. I know how difficult it can be to resist going along with others. I have dealt with family members' (my brothers, mainly, who are in their 30's) drunken behavior, especially at family get-togethers, and I worry about the impression that gives to my kids. And they are normally very stable, dependable people. So I tell my kids something I saw you write, and that is seeing someone drunk is a great excuse never to get drunk.

Ann said...
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Ann said...
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MontJoie said...

Geez. You go to Japan and don't post photos?