To my friends back home

Louise finally got her box of books and sheet music…or what’s left of it. She shipped this box before she left, and a month later than it should have arrived, only 3 pieces of music and 2 books finally made it, and the rest are gone. We only have limited access to sheet music stores over here, and some of her music and books are also out of print, but I told her to compile a list, with the hopes that you all could help pull some things together for her out of your collections or from other places. So if you could…that’d definitely be appreciated, since they were (next to her violin) her most valuable possessions.

And speaking of which…

Louise and me, at a 7-11 in Inawashiro (where we were making copies of each other’s music), the morning I left. The woman behind the counter totally blinked and stared when I asked her, in Japanese, if she could take a photo. It took the guy next to her prompting her with, “Shashin, shashin” (“photo, photo” in Japanese) before she accepted my camera. I took very few photos this weekend, but this one is my favorite. (Followed closely by the photos of the Bandai volcanic system I snapped from her kitchen window.)

In other news, I totally have internet access! The Yahoo!BB pack came in and works like a dream. Lindsay has to look into getting a proper wireless setup for her Mac, though, but I’m sure she’ll get it working with no problem. I guess now I can’t put off responding to that mountain of e-mails anymore, huh?

At Friday’s begnners eikaiwa, the students asked me what kinds of food I like and eat regularly, and when I told them I usually make sandwiches for lunch because they’re quick and easy, one of my (male) students made a comment that caught me off-guard–something like, “Wow, if you only eat sandwiches, how is it that you came to be so big?” and waved his hands in front of his chest. (The man next to him sort of shoved him and went, “Shitsurei!” or, “You’re being rude!” But it was all meant as a joke.) Er…yeah. That was startling, because that class is full of people who are sweet enough that I almost have started to see them as grandfatherly figures. But it’s sort of socially acceptable for men to make those kinds of jokes here–which is a definite form of culture shock.

But at the intermediate class, which I sort of botched up because I challenged the ladies a bit too much, one woman invited me to her house to join the other ladies (they’re all this one big group of friends) for dinner. So I went and met them at 5 PM, figuring I’d be there for an hour, and I ended up staying till 9:30. The ALTs in our area were meeting up last night as well, though I’d told them I probably couldn’t make it…and in retrospect, I ended up having a much better time chatting with these wonderful Japanese women than I probably would have if I’d met up with the other ALTs that night. (And I’m not just saying that because several of them regularly read this journal!) I was just in need of some sit-down-and-really-talk time, and it helped that they’re almost motherly figures, since they have children my age or a little older, and the way they’ve made sure to take care of me and make sure I was well-fed and taken care of served to push that even more.

We had temakizushi, which I’d never made before (sushi that you hand-wrap, and it was fresh and absolutely delicious–they had a ton of veggie selections, and I even tried natto, these super-sticky and awful-looking fermented soybeans, and actually liked it…similarly, they tried veggie-only temakizushi for probably the first time, and really liked it as well), and everyone had some beer (they made sure to give me the biggest glass), and we just talked and talked and talked.

The biggest revelation of the night: the nearby Yoshinogawa (I’d type “River,” but that’s redundant because kawa/gawa means “river”) runs over the top of an active fault line. The riverbed is a freaking fault line! The geology geek in me got really excited at hearing that…well, excited, and then worried, because we apparently haven’t had any earthquakes here lately, so there’s pressure building up that has to give at some point…

I left with a big bushel of fresh basil, a bunch of chives, and three eggplants, all from Terumi-san’s garden. The next morning my apartment smelled of fresh basil…because I stupidly forgot to stick the basil in the fridge the night before, but it was still a wonderful scent that reminded me of a wonderful evening.

I’ve been asked to write more about my kids in my classes (hi, Michelle!)…I will in the next entry, and maybe I’ll post photos of my classes soon, since I’m doing Halloween parties in nearly all of them this week and will definitely be bringing my camera. I’m finally beginning to flesh out a few personalities in each of my classes. If you have any other requests for things you’d like me to address here, please e-mail or IM me, or just comment on this entry.