Sunday, July 20, 2008

Empty nest

Since right before finals, there was a bird that built a nest near the elevator on the 4th-floor of the apartment building I've been living in. I also live on the 4th floor, so I go past that nest several times a day. I watched it go from just the mother bird with her eggs, to all the little chicks always sticking their weird-looking little heads up looking for food. Today, all the little birds left. My last roommate also left. Almost everyone from IES has returned to America, with the exception of me and two or three other people. We leave on Tuesday. Somehow, the timing of the birds seems fairly fitting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Well, I guess it's really over

Almost everyone has left. I'm celebrating my birthday in Japan today, so as to avoid having a party the night before I leave on a 13-hour flight. I started the morning off by frying up some yakisoba for breakfast. For the record, frying stuff in oil while shirtless is not the most intelligent thing one could do. I've mostly just been killing time this week, as I've kinda been in a funk since Sunday. At this point, I am totally ready to go back to MN. I have basically no discretionary income left, so there is very little that I can do here, and I need to start saving up money to be able to travel and visit various people. Tonight, planning on getting together with a few people and having pizza and then maybe going to a nomihoudai or something. My, what an exciting life I lead, right?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Sayonara Party

Last night was the sayonara party. The semester is officially over. It was a very interesting day. I started out by showing up for my last class of the semester dressed as Jack Sparrow. Throughout the early part of the day, there were a great many Japanese folks taking pictures of me and whatnot. Then I rushed home (kinda weird that I'll be leaving 'home' forever so soon) to straighten my hair, change into my 'pimp' outfit for the sayonara party, and grab my sword, dogi, and hakama for the iai demo I did with my roommate during the party. After the party, a bunch of us went to the nearby beach to chill. Things got very interesting, and I am very dense. The party last night ended for me around 6AM this morning. It was fantastic. Now I need to help one of the roommies clean up, as he's moving out tomorrow and for some reason the IES Housing Director, also known as The Spawn of Satan, thinks that that means we should have the whole apartment spotless by today. Bleh. See you folks in like 10 days or so.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Plans for my glorious return

I finally bought my return ticket. I'll be getting back to MN with my roommate on the 22nd of July, so I get to spend my birthday in Japan this year (although most of my friends will no longer be here by then). Not really sure what else to say, other than that the large numbers of final papers I'll have to write in the next couple weeks are going to suck alot. Looking forward to free pizza and a movie tomorrow night, to make up for the large amount of crap I'll have to do this week. Also, I officially have no more free weekends for the rest of the semester. Bleh. Guess I'll see all you folks in MN sometime in late July or early August or something.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

久しぶり!(it's been a while!)

Hey, just realized that it's been over a month since I last posted, and I just got back from Okinawa, so now seemed like as good a time as any to finally make another post.
The last month has been really busy. Golden Week was a nice break from the daily grind of classes, though I didn't really do all that much. It would've been nice if the break came a bit later in the semester, when I really needed it, but oh well. Several of the classes are still kind of a drag, particularly the one on Japan's international trade relations, but there's not much that can be done about that at this point. Working on coming up with plans to get together with Rennis and Brett in Akita for a weekend of iai, not sure if I'll be able to swing it or not though.
Okinawa was great. I wish we'd been able to spend more than just 4 days there. One unfortunate thing was that IES didn't really give us much free time during the day, so although the hotel we stayed at had a private beach, we didn't get to spend much time there. I also wasn't able to visit any Okinawan karate dojo, so I guess that means I have to go back sometime!
It's also just really starting to hit me that the semester ends in another 6 weeks or so. I've really enjoyed my time here in Japan. Obviously there were bad times, but the good times definitely outweighed the bad. It's still very sad, though. After the next 6 weeks, I probably won't see most of the friends I've made again. Even those who are going back to America at the same time I am are going to various different places, so it'll be difficult to meet up again. Even if we did manage to, it wouldn't be the same anymore. Like everything, all we have in the end are the memories we keep with us. Nothing else can ever stay with us forever.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Post-Pesach Post

Survived Pesach (barely). Last night, had lots of pizza and then played LAN games with the roommates. It was fun. Just started Golden Week, a.k.a. Spring Break. I'm kinda bummed that I didn't plan ahead and therefore won't really be able to travel much, but so it goes. Also, I'm gonna need to go to Harajuku sometime in the near future. Yesterday, one of my friends saw a t-shirt that I really oughta get, because it sums up my personal opinion quite well. It says "Eat shit, Nazi fuckers!" and has a crossed-out swastika on it. That's the type of thing you only see on display in the streets in Japan, and it is glorious. Perhaps I'll get a fedora with a skull-and-crossbones in rhinestones on it, too. I can find those in Harajuku, as well, after all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Still up and kickin

Well, it's been a while. My apologies to my one regular reader (if you do in fact exist). It's been a fun, annoying, tiring couple of weeks. Fun in that I've been spending alot of time with some good friends. Annoying in that there seems to be a constant stream of boring but time-consuming assignments and readings coming my way due to classes. Tiring due to the combination of the two. Looks like at some point, I'll be spending a full weekend in Akita with Rennis doing lots of iai. That'll be cool, though it'll cost me about $120 in transportation. Also, "Golden Week" is rapidly approaching. That means a couple of weeks without classes, which will be nice, but unfortunately I didn't plan ahead, so I don't think I'll be able to do much traveling.
I'm finding that I don't enjoy Pesach any more in Japan than I do in the States. In fact, I enjoy it significantly less. All I seem to be able to eat are stir-fried veggies and cheese omelettes. It's getting old fast. On the plus side, my roommate from last semester (who is a ridiculously good cook) came over last night and made some tasty eggplant and cheese stuff... made sure not to use any grain products so I could eat it. Unfortunately, there were like 8 people and therefore none of us got as much of the delicious dinner as we would've liked.
Still dealing with a complicated situation; hopefully I'll be able to resolve it soon, because it's driving me nuts. It seems like every time I'm about to resolve it, though, something else comes up. Oh well, such is life, I suppose.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I've now survived most of my first week of classes. The weather has been really crappy. I've had two umbrellas get killed over a period of 24 hours. It's rained every day this week except Wednesday, and it's supposed to keep raining every day for the next week except possibly Saturday and next Wednesday. And to think that this isn't even the rainy season...
Still not sure what I'm gonna do for pesach (besides starve, of course...). Still working on unraveling various complications and trying to avoid any catastrophic explosions. Also running for student council; maybe I can make IES have some functions that're actually enjoyable. It also seems like, although I've got a 6-credit Japanese class this semester instead of the 10-credit one I had last semester, the work load is heavier. Very annoying.
I think that's about all I've got to bitch about for now. Here's to hoping things start looking up sometime soon, otherwise this'll be a really long semester.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I'm not dead yet! Or, potential complications

Hey folks. I've been pretty busy over the last week or so. Got the results of the placement test back. I placed into the 4th-year Japanese class, which is the highest-level one they offer here. Not bad, considering I was sick before and during the test and consequently didn't study at all. Ended up just going clean-shaven for the group picture thing (along with my absurd pink tie, and some fresh sakura blossoms I stuck in my hat).
I went to the iaido shop the other day to buy myself a Japanese hakama and dogi, as well as a nifty new sword bag. It was kinda expensive; I'm sure the old Japanese guy who owns the shop appreciates my business. While I was on the train heading to the shop, I was watching the scenery go by. I was struck by the sheer beauty of it: the sakura trees in full bloom everywhere, the buildings built in the old traditional style, and right next to all of this there were existing skyscrapers and construction cranes either demolishing old skyscrapers or building new ones. It was a very strange dichotomy between the old and the new, but that is kind of what Japan is. I imagine there are plenty of other places in Europe and Asia that also have that same dichotomy, but I haven't spent time in any countries besides the US and Japan.
Also, I've got several other potential complications on my plate for this semester. I don't really need any additional complications in my life at this point, but they're there whether I want them or not. I won't really go into them in such a public forum, but I will say that I have quite a feeling of foreboding. This likely won't end well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The latest...

I took the placement test this morning. I was going to study for it, but I spent the last few days feeling extremely sick. In fact, I was too sick this morning to eat breakfast before taking the test. Of course, by about halfway through the test, I'd gotten over whatever bug's had me down for the last couple of days and so I went to Costco for some pizza... which I ate too fast, having not had much to eat for the last couple days, and then I felt kinda sick because of eating too fast for a bit. Then I went off to buy a cheap and absurd tie to wear for the official beginning-of-the-semester group picture tomorrow... I'll be proving that I am indeed man enough to wear a pink tie. I think it's even supposed to be a men's tie, though I'm not 100% sure. Still haven't decided if I'll be doing anything weird with my hat or hair, but I'll think of something (or people could post suggestions, lol)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

R.I.P. Orientation

Got through orientation. It was boring. On the plus side, it seems like most of the new students are decent enough. In fact, my new roommate is the only other iaidoka here... and his sensei back in the States set him up with the same iaido club I'm with in Urayasu... how's that for a coincidence?
On that note, Joey, I will probably be heading to the sword shop sometime this week, so please respond to my last email ASAP (if anyone could let him know, that'd be great, as I'm trying to cut down on my transit costs ^_^; )

Saturday, March 22, 2008

On the topic of general bullshit...

So, I had planned a small (around 6-person) pre-semester pizza party. I checked with my landlady to make sure it'd be okay, and adjusted the time to be somewhat earlier for her convenience. Then, less than 48 hours before the party is supposed to happen, she comes in and tells me that the IES housing director said that the party is canceled. She proceeds to lecture me for about an hour in Japanese about how I have to be an example to the new students who'll be moving in in a few days, because one of them is such a problem child, blah blah blah... well, the one she was referring to is someone who my landlady hasn't even met, but apparently the IES housing director told her all sorts of horror stories about him. Well, I happen to know the guy. He has lots of piercings and several tattoos, but he's a perfectly decent fellow.
Later that evening, I received an email from the IES housing director, basically filled with Japanese-style quasi-threats about how they may have to 'be stricter' with the rules in Endo-ryo in the future. Now, anyone who knows me knows that threatening me is not a good way to get positive results. In fact, it's a damned good way to make me into your enemy, particularly when you don't have the guts to do so in a direct manner. Due to these proceedings, I may have to revise my opinion of the on-site IES staff being decent people who try and help the students out. After I politely tolerated it being implied that there was indeed some sort of Jewish conspiracy for world domination at a speech I did as a favor for the IES housing director, this sort of back-stabbing seems to be an awfully poor way of repaying said favor. Depending on how far the housing director decides to pursue these back-stabbing endeavors (and whether I can get my money back for this semester's tuition), combined with how much I don't look forward to having to deal with a certain neo-Nazi shitface for another semester, there is a slight chance that I may be back in MN sooner than anticipated. I'm too damned tired to put up with this crap.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

another post

Now that I've had a day and a half to get over the jetlag, I'm posting again. I realized as I arrived at Ichikawa-shiohama station (the station closest to my apartment) that even though I've only lived here for around 4 months, it has become home to me. As soon as I saw those three sleazy-looking 'love hotels' just outside the station, I felt like I was home. Also, I see why the Tokyo area is seen as a constantly changing place. Even though I was only gone for 3 months, there are several things I've noticed that are slightly different, even at tiny Ichikawa-shiohama station. Also, Domino's in Japan raised their prices... a 'large' cheese pizza is now a full 4oo yen more expensive than it was when I left =( I guess I won't be getting delivery very often. I'm hoping that Cosco didn't also raise their pizza prices, because that would suck majorly (although I'd still be getting their pizza from time to time, as it's the only actual American-style pizza I've been able to find in Japan).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Back in Nihon

Well, I'm officially back in Japan. I didn't end up opening either of the boxes of girl scout cookies on the plane ride, so I now have 2 boxes for the Possible Purim Pizza Party. My checked baggage didn't make the weight limit (it was like 65 pounds), but the lady who was checking baggage didn't charge me any extra for it. Of course, it took me about 2 hours to make it from Narita airport to my apartment by train (which involved a great deal of hauling my shit up and down escalators, and even worse, stairs). I found out that I still don't really understand my landlady, but that's to be expected after not really practicing my Japanese for 3 months. I was initially thinking I'd order a pizza before going to bed, but I think I'm too exhausted to deal with that right now.