Hello friends! Was running around the past few weeks trying to get
everything lined up for my Japan trip (thus the lack of updates), now here
Got in Thursday local time, and Friday went with Robin to the school where
she teaches English to Japanese children. And I mean children - one
and a half to two an a half years old. Bilingual toddlers. They had a whole
day of Halloween events, including bobbing for apples and a pinata (filled
with American candy I brought over).
Saturday night we went to a party on the Osaka loop line, a train that
encircles the city. At first it was a complete madhouse - they had us
packed in with regular commuters, too packed to even break out a beer. I
was not having a good time...but then, as far as I can figure out, JR
(Japan Railways, on of the several train companies here) brought out an
out-of-service train for us. It was still crowded, but now it was fun!
After a boisterous loop around the city we went to several of the gaijin
clubs in the Shinsaibashi neighborhood. There are several bars that draw
the English-speaking crowd and the Japanese who love them (apparently in
some circles we gaijin are really fashionable, and foreign guys are hot
property (or maybe a fashionable accessory...) for some Japanese women). We
stayed out all night - the trains stop running around midnight, so you have
to either go for it or take a cab. Got back to Robin's around 10am Sunday
and slept all day.
Yesterday I took a short trip to Mino, a park town a little north of
Ishibashi (Robin's neighborhood). I took my shakuhachi and walked up one of
the trails into the woods a little bit, sat down and played for a
while...What a moment! I really think I felt the presence of the kami in
the woods around me. A few nihonjin passed me by, and I'm sure they'll have
a good story about the gaijin they saw trying to play shakuhachi in the
woods. (It's very hard to learn, and I've just started.) Then I hiked up
the main path to see the huge waterfall (about 30 meters high) that's one
of the main attractions. Came back, did a little food shopping (which was
interesting in itself) and made dinner for Robin to thank her.
Today, the plan is to visit Nara. Updates as they happen.