Monday, June 07, 2004

Japanese Adventure V (Duplicate?)

A thousand lashes to the man who has lazily refused to update this blog . . . wait, that's me? Oops, never mind.

Ahem, er, sorry about the lack of postings. It takes a while to write all of this stuff down and I find myself unable to accomplish it all. Also, I write some things which I would not be comfortable with others seeing me write, so the constant presence of others over my shoulders prevents me from writing at times. However, this should be an epic update, so I hope it works for you. And now I present to you . . .


Saturday 5/29
Okay, this is the day we all left for our retreat to a hot spring resort on Mt. Asahidake. Fun times, eh? We met at the train station and left by bus. Dan was charming as ever in his hung over state. [Side-track: If you ever need a good reason against heavy drinking, just observe or point out someone who does it. Their state should be reason enough to put that can or bottle down.] So our strange little gathering left for the mountains: two professors, four American students (well, three and a Korean exchange student), five Chinese students, and two Japanese students.

After a long, boring bus ride, we arrived at a rest stop near the mountain. Our original plan was to take a cable car/hike up to the peak of the mountain, but because of a steady rain, any view from the mountain would be compltely obscured. So, instead, we hiked from the rest stop over to a waterfall. This was great fun, because mountain landscapes are beautiful, and so are waterfalls. You can't find this stuff in Illinois. Consequently, having not seen any corn for several weeks has seemed like a dream.

Next, we returned to the rest stop to wait for cabs to take us to our lodge. Nothing much to note here, except the arcade: American arcades are no comparison. We don't put candy or food as rewards in the games, especially beer or cigarettes. Also, we gear this stuff towards children. The Japanese, on the other hand, understand that adults play this stuff too. Thus why there was a mahjong game that rewarded good behavior with girls in bikinis or lifting up their skirts. I think if someone put that in a mall in America, we'd have a heart attack.

So, we ended up at the lodge eventually. This was pretty far up the mountain. It was kinda neat, it had a "log cabin" kind of feel to it, except it smelled pretty rank. Everything smells funny here. Why? Oh well. The owner sat and explained everything to us, but guess what? It was japanese. Most of us sat there and let our minds wander. I imagined what it would be like if I could understand him. Maybe he was just spouting off silly gibberish and my professors were too insane to care. Wouldn't that have been scary? Well, after that, we dropped our stuff off and hiked up the street to the visitor center. One professor decided that we should watch this video about the wildlife and landscape of the mountain (since, again, we couldn't go up the mountain). This was a video of flowers swaying in the breeze with slow, quiet piano music playing in the background. No joke. I think all of us slept for at least part of it. Well, after that, we walked even further up the road to the cable car station and checked out the gift shop, as that was the last thing we could do there. I thought about buying souvenirs, but most of it was junk.

Back at the lodge, we didn't do much. Settled down and played Uno for a while. The Chinese students hadn't seen it before. We did this until dinner time, where we all pitched in on preparation and cooking. We made some skillet dish which I cannot pronounce and was made of ingredients which you cannot find in the US. Sad day. It was good though. After we cleaned up, the men got their turn in the hot spring. This was interesting. First, I'm glad I wear glasses; it meant not having to see the other guys naked in the spa. Otherwise, the spa was relaxing, but VERY hot. Like, "we were in there 20 minutes before we felt like passing out" hot. Very relaxing, but potentially dangerous. Oh, and Dan just kept shouting the entire time about how drunk he was. Lovely. He tried to get me to down beers at dinner, and I was like, "Dan, I'm a Christian . . . I can't do that." He thought I just didn't want to look bad by getting drunk in front of others, that I couldn't let loose and have a good time. Some people just don't understand.

After that, not much happened. I got the chance to play cards with Mike for a while. I tried witnessing to him as much as I could, but I didn't get very far. He doesn't seem interested in learning the truth. For a lot of the questions I asked him, he seemed content to give trite, meaningless answers and let the question slide. I didn't like that, but it seems he doesn't want to confront a lot of those issues. I get the feeling this isn't over, but time will tell where this leads.

I went to be shortly after this, but it was hard; people kept coming in and out (drunkenly) and the walls separating the men's room from the women's was far too thin. Ah well.

Sunday 5/30
Being on top of a mountain, I couldn't go to church this day. So, I got up early and walked around the mountain side for a while. It was really foggy, so I couldn't see much, but everything was quite beautiful, and the sound of the river flowing really gave it some atmosphere. Words can't do justice to the natural beauty of the place. I returned, did some time in the scriptures, and then waited for breakfast.

Well, after cleaning up and everything, we returned to the city. I rested most of the afternoon. I got to meet Fujiko's parents. They were nice, but they didn't speak much english, so it was awkward (it always is).

Mike and I were to try again for StarCraft in the afternoon, but instead I joined him and his host family for bowling at the Sugai. This was pretty fun, but Mike certainly has an anti-social streak to him. He didn't hardly talk at all whilst we were bowling. At least this place had a great arcade.

Not much to say here. We were supposed to visit a high school, but that was thankfully cancelled. I think they finally figured out that we aren't education majors. Instead, after Japanese class, we visited this computer/mapping company. This was interesting, but minimally.

Okay, update cut short. I thought I had more time, but there is class in here now. Strange, but I shall explain later. Enjoy this for now!


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