Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weekday News, Summertime Blues

No blues, actually. It just rhymed, and the song was stuck in my head.

I got my gaijinkomadinkarinkytech (Alien Registration Card), which meant I could finally, after two visits/six hours in SoftBank, I could get a cell phone! After being told yes, we could get keitais without gaijin cards, then no, we needed credit cards, then yes, we could get them, then no, you really do need your g-card, we were rather frustrated with SoftBank. We kind of had a relationship with the guy who worked there, since we spent so much dang time with him. I think he got depressed every time our foreign faces darkened the store doors. So, on the third visit and after another three hours of waiting for some faxes to go through, we got keitais. Mine might be the coolest thing ever. It’s not quite on iPhone level, I admit, because it’s not a touch screen (but there is a touch pad), but it has so many gadgets that I don’t quite know where to start. Plus, the manual’s all in Japanese, so it’s a bit hard to figure everything out.

Also, after a couple hours this last time around a very tan man strolled in, Asian but not Japanese. Preface: The Japanese in my neck of the woods understand English like Oklahomans understand Spanish. We may have had it in class, can understand the Taco Bell Chihuahua, pick out a few words here or there, but most people don’t understand what the heck is being said when Spanish is spoken at a normal level. The Japanese, if English is spoken slowly, can understand some simple words and phrases. If spoken with an accent, with slang, or quickly, there’s a 95% chance that they won’t get the jist of what’s going on. Ergo, we talked about how precious the SoftBank employee was with his pinstripes and lost expression right in front of his face. He gave absolutely no sign of understanding; he definitely would have blushed.

Me to Kim, softly but not whispering: Hello, Gorgeous Arms.

Kim, looking around: Huh?

Me: Look how tan he is!

Kim: Oh, I know. That’s a beautiful color.

Me: He really does have gorgeous arms. He’s kind of cute.

Margaret: True

Kim, turning back around: He really is.

Man turns around, awkward meeting of eyes, smiles a little.

Me: He might have understood that.

Kim: I don’t think he could hear us, though.

Man to SoftBank Employee: Excuse me, do you speak English?

Me: Crap.

Kim asked where he was from (Nepal), I asked what he was doing in Japan (working as a rafting guide on the Hozugawa) and Margaret laughed at us. Now I want to go rafting. And no, it’s not to stalk the cute Nepalese guy. I simply enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors. And beautiful tan man arms.

Question: Why is public nudity a sign that one has a healthy body image? Public baths have been around for ages, yes I know. The Japanese version, or onsen, is one big way that Nihonjin socialize (fear not, those who are concerned. The men and women are separated). I get that. What I don’t get is the emails from JET members advertising onsen trips with lines like “a liberating experience for those who aren’t used to naked time.” “Bring a small towel for covering up while out of the pools if you are the shy type.” As in, if you can’t do the onsen, you have body issues. There’s a distinct superiority, as though those who can bath with others in the nude and not cover up with towels are just that much more liberated and comfortable. It reminds me of a kindergartener who, after learning how to skip, called me. “Hey, Ms. Laurel, look! Am I doing a really, really good job?” What was I supposed to say? I could only answer in the affirmative.

Sure, kindergarteners need someone to tell them that it’s okay to have self-confidence. I am not a kindergartener. I don’t feel the need to prove that I’m comfortable with my body by lounging about with my humps exposed. I figured that not feeling the need to lose weight, despite being surrounded by women on whom a size 0 would seem loose, was a pretty good indicator. However, I feel like if I give an honest excuse, such as, “I just don’t want to,” the onsen-lovers will interpret it as a result of a sadly Puritan upbringing. It was rather amusing, actually, to here why some wouldn’t go the last time around. “Oh, I have no problem being naked. I used to go every week the last time I was here. I’ve just been sick for the past few days.” Note that my excuse of the cloud passing over the moon (Memoirs of a Geisha, anyone?) was totally legit but not much better. Oh well. Never fear, fellow Puritans. I’ll keep my lady business to myself without qualms.

Alright, folks. It’s time for Weekend in a Nutshell. Let’s do this.

Friday: I hibernated. I do it sometimes, when I’ve been away from my residence with a lot of social activity. I don’t answer my phone, I don’t contact the outside world, I just stay at home and do whatever the heck I feel like doing. I might have Skyped my family. Was that Friday? I don’t remember; I hibernated both Thursday and Friday nights, and the activities were much the same.

Saturday: After a lazy morning, Margaret and I went to find out what the heck we could see on the side of a hill from the window at work. It’s something that looks like a mini Washington Monument, but it’s all by its lonesome. After a long, long hike up frustratingly shallow steps and an awkward transition to the type of steps that require lunges, we reached the monument. Something something Peace something. Good job us, take some pictures, follow the red posts up the hill. Shrines, something something, foxes, something, pigeon with a tag on its leg and no fear, observation deck at the top of the mountain. Gorgeous view of Kameoka, which is mostly in a valley (save for half my schools, apparently). The castle ruins are in the tree area in the middle of the city.

I ate a delicious nutritious mango that afternoon, and am paying for it now. My lips itch like crazy.

That evening all of the Kameokan JETs (save Kim, who was in Osaka) went to Kyoto to see Daimonji, which signals the end of Obon. The spirits are dumb, so they need fires in the shape of kanji on the side of a mountain to guide them home. The spirits can read, but they can’t get back to the spirit world…Basically it was an excuse for a bunch of JETs to meet up, exchange contact information, and be loud together. The whole affair is to sit on the river bank, talk until the fire is lit after dark, take some pictures, and then leave. No music, no ceremony, just an “Ooh!” when the fire gets lit, and then leave. After the fire had mostly burned out on the mountain, group of 17 or so went to a Mexican restaurant in Kyoto (not the same. Good, but not the same), stayed out really late, and we were running to the last trains home.

Yesterday: More Nodame! It’s all about music students, the two main characters are pianists, and it makes me miss playing the piano so much it hurts. Itchy fingers. Oh, Grieg! Ah, Rachmaninoff! Ach, Beethoven! Come home for Christmas or buy a good keyboard? It’s a tough decision.

Also, beforehand I snapped this awesome picture of Hot Pants-san in Seiyu. His girlfriend’s shorts were longer than his. What a fox, ne?

Wrote this last Monday—Busy week this week; here’s what will be in the upcoming entry:

Monday: Taiko drumming. I’m not sure if I’m watching or participating, but I’m going.
Tuesday: Conference for all Kyoto JETs during the day. Party at night, ya’ll. Hey!
Wednesday: More conference, calligraphy class at night. Woot!
Thursday: Work, then hibernate because I’ve been all social-ed out. New bike!
Friday: It's happening right now. I'll let you know
Saturday: Allow Margaret to guilt me out of being an antisocial poop and begin cycle again.

Well, that’s my week in a nutshell, both past and future. By the way, I love comments more than I love lamp. So, comment. All ya’ll. Ja ne!

1 comment:

  1. You should probably stop making me laugh out loud at work. It does not lend an air of authenticity to my faked "busyness." My vote is that you come home at Christmas - it's worth a million keyboards. No presh.

    You should show up at the onsen with a full body wetsuit, belting "God Save Our Queen." Or maybe, the Beatles' beloved hit "Blackbird." If you're singing AND looking like a fool, what can they possibly say? Plus, you can pretend your British, ne?