Monday, December 12, 2005

Bounenkai and Ensoukai

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here....We had snow, but it melted the next day. Now it's just cold ouside. Nobody rememberd to tell Phil that Saijou is an especially cold place because it is at a higher elevation than Hiroshima City. Also, the school put up a tree and some lights in front of the Central Library, chuuou toshokan. Pic time!

xmas2 Posted by Picasa
xmas Posted by Picasa
I'm pretty sure I found the happiest old lady in Hiroshima prefecture, too. She works at the Coop cafeteria next to the dorms..and when you enter she says "okaeri" instead of "irasshaimase" as if you were just returning home. She just has this big smile and warm feeling whenever she speaks to you. Now if only she could make fried chicken and cornbread.... :)

This weekend was absolutely intense...I was soooo busy! It was great fun though. I went to two performances (Ensoukai) and to the crew team year-end (Bounenkai). I didn't have to exercise at all, which of course is good, and bad at the same time. Love to move~ Anyway, I got up early enough on Saturday because I had to clean up my room. Ever notice how you have never seen a picture of my room? Well, there is good reason for it :) So after my room...eh...well it was "clean" I went to the local supermarket because I wanted to get some food for the refrig before I left...I was running on empty. I saw something amazing!! I finally know how to life cheaply in Japan, but I haven't quite acquired the skill yet...Apparently at the super, Saturday is fresh fish day. There is this one fish that I love called Saba (maybe Miho can tell correctly but I guess it is Mackerel) You can buy the fish pre-cut and packaged (they do it in the store so it's still ultra fresh) for just 400yen (a little less than $4)..BUT on Saturday you can buy the entire fish for just 200yen!!! It's insanely cheap! I know the rule on how to buy fresh fish...clear eyes, red gills, fish smell...but actually buying and preparing it is another story. Next time, I get to participate on Fish day...definitely getting some cheap mackerel, I have to practice my knife skillz~ :)
After shopping, I just had enough time to drop of the goods and head to the bus stop. Apparently I still haven't gotten the hang of the Japanese bus system, but there are so few buses on the weekend..its so hard to travel in town. I did meet up with the two Austrians Hannes and Erika, and another Korean girl. The Korean girl told us that she and some other HUSA girls were going to the same concert as us, so we changed our plan and took a direct bus to downtown instead of a bus and a train. Then 20min of walking, asking for directions, consulting a 1.5in map, asking for directions, and walking, and asking for directions...We weren't late though(by 5min) Everything was great! Oh, and Ryoko, Miho's friend, is how I found out about the performance. She plays the French Horn (which completely confused the Austrians, because they didn't know why the horn was French). I found out afterward that the performers wouldn't be greeting us as we left the performance hall, so I had to rush back in to give Ryoko the flowers that I brought. I always saw people at Carthage giving flowers to people after performances, so I brought my own. Also, I have to engage in the Japanese culture of gift giving...Ryoko gave me two tickets to the performance, so I had to figure out some way to get her a gift. Somehow, I'm always in gift-debt....
Then after the performance, I had to split up from the group because while they would be heading back to Saijou, I was bound for a train to West-hiroshima station, a street car to Furue station, and a 10minute walk to meet up with everybody at the boathouse. Somehow, without getting too lost I found the boathouse. I was supposed to be at the boathouse at 6..I walked in the door at 6:01. Then as soon as I found dropped off my stuff, I found that the restaurant that we were going to was...in downtown Hiroshima...so we all made the trek back to Hiroshima to this awesome Chinese restaurant...Chinese food is so much better here....we had fried gyoza (this is the staple of a Chinese restaurant in Japan....just say mmmm..Gyouuuuuza), rice, stir-fried shrimp and noodles, mango filled sweet bread, chicken, spicy shrimp...Then of course there was beer, and cocktails..I tried something called Anzu...and some Japanese potato liquor...it was so watered down though...it actually tasted just like water to me. I tried Kamichika's Chinese beer that he ordered...and I decided never to try Chinese beer again. We had lots of formalities, like little speeches from everybody in the room starting with the oldest member who came...I think he graduated in like 1947.
After the dinner, we tried to go bowling...tried...the lanes were reserved for the next 2 hrs...so what do we do, we break off into small groups...Akira and Satomi and I head of to a ramen bar because...actually, unless we were really amped to get drunk during the dinner there wasn't enough food. This was an awesome ramen joint. Then we all recollected again and headed to the Karaoke bar. I wasn't sure how long we were gonna be there, but I guess there is some special rate for people who are at the very last to go to the Karaoke....like midnight til 6am crowd...yea thats us...so listening and singing Japanese and English songs until around 5am, til we take a taxi back to the boathouse.
We sleep for about 3 hrs, and wake up to get ready for Osouji. In Japan they don't have spring cleaning but new year's cleaning instead. I was teamed with Tamachan, Inami, and one other guy who I can never remember his name, to clean up the sleeping areas. I only get to work until noon-ish though, because I had to get cleaned up and ready to take the train back into Saijou for another friend's concert. When I left of course I said "Otsukaresama desu" Kind of formal way of ending a meeting in Japan. Then everybody in the boathouse yelled back "Itterasshai" to see me off. It was a good feeling because I really feel like I've been accepted into the rowing club. I can talk freely with anybody in the club and nobody feels like my (what is to be debated) sub-par Japanese is a burden. So that was awesome~
I took the train back to Saijou, around 1hr, and went immediately to find the performance..only to learn that I was more than 1 hour early. I actually had forgotten what time it started, but I heard music when I was exploring the building. I was just waiting for somebody to recognize me so I could talk to them and ask when and what room the performance was in exactly. A girl motioned for the two guys preparing their instruments to assist me. They barely murmured "Hello", when I was already asking them my questions in Japanese. When I was walking away, I heard the guys exclaiming how they were so nervous because they really had no idea how to explain the performance details in English...lucky for them I speak enough Japanese. Enough to catch their exclaimation when I walked away. Sneaky~
Soooo....I just wandered some grocery stores and some shops...There is a kind of Japanese noodle called Soba. I love soba...ever since I learned that soba were in okonomiyaki...I can never buy anything in bulk in Japan..until I found one store. I was able to buy soba by the kg instead of 200g bags. I got two. Love soba....
So then I made it back to the performance. It was traditional Japanese music..I don't know the names of any of the instruments, but its just the very traditional instuments that are native to Japan. I went because the girl in my class invited me. She plays a kind of guitar instrument called 'sangen' This concert was really great! Even though I was running low on sleep, I was able to stay awake. I think I liked the traditional songs as opposed to the songs adapted to the Japanese instruments...like they played Vivaldi's song....and a Disney collection. I took some video during the concert so you can hear and see some of it when I get back. :) I met up with Daniel and David after the concert. In the lobbyl, Daniel's friend pointed us in the direction of an Indian restaurant. Yet another food I learned is really great...curry...its sooo good. Japanese curry, Thai curry, Indian curry...its all so good. Our threesome split the food we got, some chicken tikka, another chicken dish, two orders of naan bread, and indian curry. Then after dinner we tried to catch a bus back to campus, but of course...its still the weekend so the bus is hit and miss most of the time, we end up walking in less time than it would have taken the next bus to come. Ahhh....good weekend~

Here are some pics....Camera doesn't do so well in doing zoom and that kind of thing, but everybody likes to see pictures, so view at your leisure~
http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2116084547
Ah...and this week, practice Tues (morning), Thurs (night), Fri (morning), Sat (morning)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phew! What a blog! Sooo many comments, let's see what I can remember:
First, it is really cool that you have met some people through rowing and feel that you can really talk to them. I was always worried that my own sub par Spanish would be a hindrance to meeting people in Costa Rica. But everyone that I met was really cool and patient with it, and my Spanish improved ten-fold as a result! On the volleyball team it was a really nice way to meet Tica girls (for some reason they are threatened by Gringa girls, like lil ol me, go figure).
Sounds like you are having fun! I sincerely hope you participated in karoke, if not you should. It's fun! I would love to hear you sing in Japanese, heehee.
I feel that I am always in gift debt too, and just when I think I've gotten out of it, I find myself back in it again.
At any rate, you should really think about bringing this gift giving Japanese tradition back with you and sharing the culture with your friends here! ;-)
Oh, and you're just as crazy, you and your fish stories. When you come back you will have to cook fish, I will make a Costa Rican dish, and maybe Jasmine can concoct something Australian. We'll have a nice big feast :-) How's that sound? Well, I think that was all I had to say, if I think of something else, I'll add it later. Take care and have fun!! Love ya Philly!! - Brianna

2:23 PM  
Anonymous joel said...

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Great site for Indian food lovers.

9:52 AM  

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