Bridges and sunshine in Ikeda

It’s nice to wake up early on a weekend sometimes, but it’s best if you went to sleep early the night before, which I definitely did last night. I got a lot of sun fairly early in the day and had a headache from mid-afternoon on, took a nap for several hours, woke up and ate dinner, realized I felt worse, and lay down around 8, falling asleep around 9, and waking up several times this morning before I finally got up around 7:30-8:00. Everything feels so still and fresh now. It’s nice, very peaceful and calming.

A few of us met up for karaoke on Friday night–Brian and Julie met Miwako and two of her friends there, and I joined them a bit later (after cleaning my place frantically for 3 hours). Ashley came by later, and Genna and Ange caught a train out west to join us. After we were kicked out at midnight, Ashley, Genna, Ange, and I headed back to Ikeda. After dropping off our stuff, we went out to Bar G, the pricey but really nice bar in town, and then went to Lawson to get some snacks, and hung out at my place for a while. It was a cool girl’s night out.

Yesterday we got a late start and decided to go on a “30-minute” walk of Ikeda (Ashley’s time estimate–it ended up being around an hour and a half, but that was okay). Genna and Ange had never spent much time in Ikeda, so it was cool giving them the tour and showing them the cool sites in town. They really liked the very cozy neighborhood feel that our area has, something that I haven’t really felt around any of the other ALTs’ homes.

Longtime readers–you may or may not remember me writing (almost exactly a year ago, coincidentally) about a pedestrian bridge across the Yoshinogawa (River) that I tried to cross but wasn’t able to, because the surface was all wire mesh and you could see the river rushing below, and a fear of heights/falling is a phobia I possess. We went there yesterday, and I made it partway across before backing off again, and the other three decided to go across and then come back…but then I figured I would just try it again, not expecting anything of myself, not setting any goals for how far I would go, and tuning out the part of my brain that was very aware of the rushing river a couple hundred feet below me. And then, several windy and bridge-swaying and nerve-wracking moments later, I was on the other side. It was a cool moment–the three of them were grinning and clapping for me, and my knees were still shaking for a bit afterwards, but the overwhelming sense of relief at actually making it was much stronger.

(Right before everyone started to cross it, a dog and his owner caught up with us. He was a beautiful dog, with a thick white coat, and very friendly, but with an injured leg. He promptly started across the bridge, but apparently he was as afraid of heights as I was. He made sure to walk so that his feet were directly over the one central support running down the center of the bridge, but turned around a moment later, too nervous to continue alone, and only went across when his owner was right next to him. It was an adorable moment. (photos by Genna.))

We walked down the road on the Nishiyama side of the river, then across the dam and back to our building, and went to Paparagi in Mikamo for lunch and to hang out for a couple of hours (mmm, fresh waffles), where I had to break the news to the mama-san that we probably couldn’t do the open mic after all. She was really cool about it, and just urged me to let her know if we did find time for it before I went back to the US.

My headache kicked in then, so instead of driving Genna and Ange out to Bamboo Park in Yamakawa to play frisbee and eat gelato at Dolce, I took them to the nearby train station and they caught a train back. It was after I woke up from my nap (3 hours later) that I realized that I’d gotten a sunburn on my shoulders in the couple of hours we were outside, the first sunburn I’ve gotten in years. I didn’t put on any sunblock, so it was kind of my fault. I guess I’d just gotten too much sun–it’s really intense out here, which I learned the hard way a couple of months ago when playing frisbee in Yamakawa, which resulted in my pulling over in the parking lot of a convenience store on my way home and throwing up because the sun had made me so sick.

Anyway, I’m well-rested today. My big goal is to write a 30 to 40-minute speech about vegetarianism–completely in Japanese–that I’m presenting to a group of 50 or 60 people at the health center Tuesday afternoon. My boss is going to help me out with it tomorrow afternoon, but ideally I’d like to write it out in English first, then translate it and go back for the words I don’t know, and have her help me with my grammar.

I also want to find some shampoo/conditioner combination that doesn’t leave my hair completely sticky after an hour. The heat and humidity kicked in hard-core on Wednesday–I finally set my heating/AC unit back on AC yesterday (it’s cool that I now can pretty much understand every button and function on the remote except for a couple)–and my hair’s been disgusting ever since then, even though I wash it thoroughly every morning. I guess it’s time to retire Lux and maybe switch back to Herbal Essences, and not condition my hair on a daily basis anymore.

Have a good weekend and a happy little Sunday, guys.

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