Monday, November 6, 2017


4pm Flight to Taipei
After that I went back to get G from the internet cafe. We left on our way to Gion to try to see some geisha. On our way we saw Meghan and Menka. They were going to the Temple with the 1000 Buddhas. We really didn't have much else to do so we went with. It was a pretty long walk South along the river. We arrived a little before 4:30pm so we had to hurry. It was almost empty inside- after the school groups left. There were indeed, hundreds of Buddhas. It was easy to assume that they were just stamped out at a factory. But these were all hand made. Each by itself was beautiful, 36 arms each! Each hand was different, either in a different position or holding a different object. We had to go quickly through the temple to see it all and make sure they didn't lock us in. We weren't allowed to take pictures, so I kept the pamphlet. It took a good bit of time to walk all the way back. But we walked through Gion, hoping to see some geisha. We walked slowly and probably stared at every woman wearing a kimono. I thought I saw one, but she didn't have any make-up on and didn't look at all that impressive.

When we got back it was almost time for Skiaki. The grills- or burners really- were set out. As we say down there was pork cooking with some noodles, mushrooms, and leafy something. We got bowls and eggs. We were told to put the egg (raw) in the bowl and mix it with soy sauce. Then we took the very hot meat and vegetables and dipped them in the egg mixture. We discussed the possibility of salmonella versus the effectiveness of hot food touching eggs. We ate it anyway. It was really a fun meal. Eric and Emily were eating with us. We started just using our own chopsticks to eat right out of the pot. We had one bottle of beer to share between the four of us and it resulted in a tiny glass per person. At the end of the meal, Norio and his staff poured saki for anyone who wanted it. It was pretty sweet and not strong at all.

After dinner I worked on writing my Population paper and Culture response to Ryoanji. I felt so productive I read a few pages of the Population textbook and fell asleep.

At breakfast, G's host mom called him. They made plans to meet at the subway station and go to the monkey park, then meet for dinner. Wait. We met Kristy's host mom and sister to go to the park. Anyway, after class we ran to exchange a little money (to ship our boxes home) and eat at McDonalds. As we were waiting for Kristy's mom I had to go to the bathroom. While I was back at Hagashiama YH I found her and Akina (her 3 year old daughter) and took them back to meet G. Kristy, Hannah and Katie were down in the subway station. We all got together and found the bus that would take us up to the monkey park. The other girls entertained Akira and were really good at figuring out the bus thing. Unfortunately, I think we were supposed to press a button at our stop, but we didn't so we accidentally went one stop too far. That was ok. We took a really nice walk. It seemed very un-touristy and more authenticly Kyoto-like. Lots of fishermen in boats, little old people walking around.

We followed the signs to the entrance. We paid, left the stroller and started climbing stairs. We'd heard from other people that it was quite a journey but that it was well worth it. Well, it was. The mountains were beautiful and we climbed up them. It wasn't as bad/difficult as Akagi, but I still broke a good sweat and regretted wearing a skirt and open-toed shoes. The drop-off along the stairs was pretty much just straight down to a ravine. We didn't see any monkeys until we got to the top of the mountain (about 30 minutes later). We saw 1 or 2 and took tons of pictures. They were just sitting on trees waiting for us.

We got to the top of the mountain and were amazed. The scenery was unbelievable. To our right and left were mist-covered mountains and below us stretched Kyoto-City. We could see to the other side of the city- it was all laid out in front of us. The clouds pretty much covered the sun so there was a kind of haze over everything- making it look even more romantic. Plus, there were little brown monkeys everywhere.

I took tons of pictures and bought postcards, so I won't go into a physical description of the monkeys. There was a house-looking thing at the top of the hill and a man told us to go rest inside. Inside had a counter that sold monkey food! Bags of peanuts and of apples for Y100 each. We fed the monkeys through the windows of the house. They (the windows) were covered with fence material so the monkeys could reach their hands in. There were maybe 50 monkeys or so in the immediate area. They came up to the windows and stuck in their hands. The best way to feed the was to put the food in the palm of my hand and have the monkey reach out and pick up the food from my hand. Their hands were like baby hands. Usually the monkeys were polite and just delicately took the food and ate it. Other monkeys fought each other to be at the windows. There were also tiny baby monkeys the size of mid-sized kittens. They crawled and jumped around and got food when the bigger monkeys let them. Their tiny teeth had a hard time biting through peanut shells- it was so cute. If you stood too close with food in your hand, sometimes a big monkey snapped it right out of your hand. That was scary. We stayed there for a long time and spent lots of money feeding the monkeys. We also took tons of pictures.

When we were all broke, we sat outside and looked at the landscape. The monkeys were all around us sitting on benches, laying on the ground, picking at each other. Many of the baby monkeys were breastfeeding. A park ranger guy helped us take a group picture. When we were all together he said, "Don't touch the monkeys!!" and threw monkey food at us. Then the monkeys came and sat with us in the picture. That was also fun.

We walked back down the mountain (stopping to watch the monkeys slide down a slide and play on a swing set). Caught a bus home and I and Akino and Hannah all fell asleep on the bus.

We met Hiromi (G's host mom) in front of the Book-Off. She looked very happy to see him and said that she and her husband cried over dinner when they looked at pictures of G. She was just about as small as Marino, but she looked much more traditional. She wasn't as cute. She was also very quiet. It took us a while to form plans and then translate them into Japlish. We stopped at HYH to try to take an imminent quiz early, but without good results. So we walked to what can only be considered a Japanese dive, or greasy spoon. Maybe a greasy chopstick, where we met Massa- Hiromi's 22-year-old husband (she's 28). Their English wasn't too good so there wasn't much conversation. We had to run back and soon as we finished eating to take the quiz. When it was over we left to meet them all again too sing karaoke...........

6pm Taiwan- bus to Jiantan YAC
So. We went to sing karaoke. We went to the basement of a pachinko parlor. We rented a private room for the 7 of us. It was pretty tiny, but the music was loud. We paid Y1500 each for all-we-could-drink and eat and sing. We first had a round of beer and some cheese that Kristy's mom brought. Hiromi wanted to start off with Hero by Mariah Carey. As it started playing, the words came up in English over a background of New York City. The World Trade Center was in most of the pictures (before the attacks) and there were also American flags. It was really hard to watch and sing those words. We just kinda looked down and mumbled- glancing at each other once in a while. We didn't want to tell them because we didn't want them to feel bad.

We sang songs that the Japanese knew (mostly ABBA and Mariah Carey) and songs that we knew (Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle). G bolted out Stairway to Heaven before I could stop him. We girls had 2 more rounds of drinks and G had 3. We ended around 10:15pm with a popular and rousing version of YMCA. It was so much fun. We left to try to make it to the Hostel before lights out. We were pretty drunk. When Hiromi was saying good-bye to G she burst out crying. We left quickly so she wouldn't be put through too much pain. Oh, and Kristy's mom gave us 4 girls bottles of Yakisoba sauce because earlier in the day we said we liked Yakisoba. Oh, and at some point G bought Japanese porn, but that doesn't have to do with anything.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Yesterday was another normal day. After class we went walking around the covered mall again. We ate at a nice Chinese food restaurant. After that we found Cafe Asprine so G could type his papers. I wandered around by myself for a while and did a little shopping. I found the holy grail of T-shirts finally! A Bathing Ape! I bought one for myself and one for G. Then I cruised around some side streets for a while. I saw a shop with some cheap looking clothes and thought I might find a pair of shorts in there. Inside it was all underwear but I remembered that G said he needed a few extra pairs. I was looking at the aisle with the mens' underwear when a sales woman came by. I was looking for small but all I saw was medium. So I asked if she had S size. She opened the package and spread out the contents. Then she took another type off the shelf and opened that one. One style had the flap in the front and the other didn't. I tried to ask for a smaller size but they didn't appear to understand me. They got another sales person to come to my aid as I fished out my Japanese phrase book.

The new woman came out to me and said, "mens." I was getting frustrated and really just wanted to leave so I found the word for husband. Their next English phrase was, "What color?" They pointed to a pair of Y1300 shorts and I tried to say that they were too expensive. My phrasebook wasn't helping. I couldn't find the words I needed. They took out more pairs of shorts and I tried to explain that I wanted to find my "husband" so he could decide. They just kept asking me "What color?" I found the word for "lost/forgot" and continued with "husband". At that, someone nodded and indicated that she understood. I said that I'd be right back. Repeated Arigato several dozen times and walked away. I walked back and forth in front of the shop a few times to pretend I was lost.


12:00am HYH Lounge
Quick journal from a boring day... got up, had class, ate at Shakey's pizza again. G went to find a little remote control car he heard about and I went to an internet cafe. After a while there I went shopping in search of a pair of shorts. They do not sell any type of shorts in Japan. They sell skirts of all materials, shapes, lengths, and sizes. They sell pants, jeans, capris, pants in size -4 - 2, dozens of shirts with millions of designs on them, socks of every design and pattern, and leg warmers for popular people. But they don't sell shorts in Japan. So I got a crepe filled with whipped cream, ice cream, strawberries and chocolate instead. It was ok, but not terrific. I found G and left him to write his papers at the cafe. I came back to the hostel expecting to get homework done, but I slept for two hours instead. G woke me up and we ate dinner. After dinner we attended a dinner by a Noh mask maker. He was a lot of fun and we took pictures of the various finishes and unfinished masks. Some of the finished ones were painted with gold and worth thousands of dollars. He was very funny and interesting. He also makes recorders for himself and invented one that plays harmony and melody.

When that was over we sat in the lounge downstairs and he sat with us for a while. We spoke Japanese with him and his wife (who translated a little). He was very friendly and gave Jocelyn his card. His wife dragged him away and I spent the rest of the night finding anything to do except writing the remaining two papers that I have to write.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


8:30am Shinkansen train
When I woke up, Marino told me that American people shower in the morning so I will shower now. And I did! She made me a great breakfast with bread, scrambled eggs, fried pork (not bacon), and cabbage. We talked a little and she told me about Lake Biwa. I showed interest so we went. Unfortunately, Taku was having a huge fit, hitting his mother on the head while she was driving and screaming at the top of his lungs. We parked the car at the lake and looked around for a little while. The lake didn't look too wide, maybe 2x as wide as the Mississippi, but it was long. There was a lot of industry and a city across from us. There were some wind surfers and kite flyers on the small rock beach and Marino asked them to take pictures of us. She wouldn't let me take pictures with my own camera ever. She kept saying she will mail the pictures to me. We left quickly because Taku was hungry.

We went to a sort-of mall and ate McDonalds for lunch. Taku ordered a very big bowl of ramen and Marino got a teriyaki set which she shared with Yuki. They also got toys. We went from there to the third floor of a Y100 shop. I got stickers of Japanese words for guys in the office. The kids got toys. We walked through a kimono section and she showed me pictures of 20 year olds at their "coming out" party. They were all very beautiful. Then I saw the prices and WOW! Y20,000 minimum for accessories. On our way out we passed an arcade. Of course the kids went nuts. They got money from their mom to play games. Marino told me to get in a tiny bus with the kids. She put money in it and it started rocking back and forth. At the end it took our picture and printed up stickers.... We went down there and Marino told me that I was going to make an easy American dish for the Hippo Family Club potluck that night. I found spaghetti noodles and tomato paste and parmesan cheese.

When we got home I gave the family their quarter-set gift. They were in awe of it. They kept saying it was a treasure. I taught them about the quarter program and they said they would keep it forever. We made the spaghetti and there was TONS of it, at least, Marino thought so. It was about 1lb. I added the tomato paste, some basil from her herb garden, some garlic, and a lot of salt. It didn't taste good. But we packed it up in the traditional Japanese "tupperware" box stacking thing and wrapped it in a scarf. We drove somewhere to what looked like a family community center. We took our shoes off and got rubber slippers. Upstairs were a lot of families and Robin and Lindsay. We tried to talk to each other but the families wanted to show us off. When all the families (about 15) arrived we played games (1-2-3-4-5-6-7, London Bridges, and an unusual version of duck-duck-goose). Many of the games were in foreign languages because the Hippo Club learns more than 12 languages at once. After game and song time we played "put up the tables and chairs and set up food". Someone put a beer in front of me, and I filled a tiny plate with many different types of foods. By far, there was the most pasta left untouched. Marino introduced me to a 26 year old mother of a 9 month old. The baby was really cute but the mother seemed tired and distracted. She also breast-fed the baby right at the table. The baby drank tea and ate tiny pieces of food from the mother's plate. It seemed unusual to me, but I don't know that much about American babies so I didn't say anything.

The three American girls had to give a speech. Marino taught me to say, "Nagano, wakolohim!" which translates somehow as "I don't know Japanese language." After the speeches (which no one could hear because the kids were so loud). We had cake and sang Happy Birthday. Apparently, it was the fourth anniversary of this particular Hippo Family club. Then we went home.

We talked around the kitchen table for a long time. We talked about New York, my job, and the female reproductive system. Fuminori is an OB/GYN who specializes in in-vitro fertilization. A paper of his just got accepted into a journal and he wanted me to read it. It was about the presence of messenger ribonucleic acids in the fetuses of in-vitro fertilized mice. The words were very big. I complimented him many times on his knowledge of English. Marino asked me to translate, or at least explain an email she got from a friend. It was a chain letter from a Canadian Essayist who was defending America against people who say that we deserved what we got. It was very political and took a long time. They looked awe-struck when I finished. It was again past midnight- so we went to sleep.

6:30pm Shinkansen train
So, I woke up Sunday and went back to bed. I finally left my room at about 10am. The kids were sleeping and Marino sent me to the shower. I decided to use her shampoo and soap. But when I got wet and looked at the bottles, there was no English. So I washed my hair with both. Bad idea. I think I used the soap last. Out of the shower we had pancakes for breakfast. Glorious, sweet, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside pancakes. I grabbed the butter before Yuki could eat it all and put what turned out to be honey on them. It as a beautiful thing. When Taku finally woke up we drove to a "festival," really a fair. 

There were rows of "white houses" (or tents as we say) that shop owners set up. Most were restaurants. In the center was a large stage. There was some costumed Power Ranger show going on that Taku really got into. It was hot, so we left the middle as soon as it was over. The next few hours is easy to explain: cotton candy, soda, candy, ice cream, games, toys, and train. One of the games was a ring toss. Marino paid and told me to win something for Taku. But when the guy saw me they moved the sticks really far away, and I lost. I felt really badly and apologized a lot. They gave Taku a prize anyway. 

Marino got us all yakisoba and we ate it while watching Taku ride a Thomas the Train ride a dozen times or so. It was a little golf-cart thing with benches attached. Fuminori got there from work and sat with us for a while. Marino left with the kids and came back with more candy and a book of postcards with pictures of Lake Biwa and Mount M-something that's the second tallest in Japan. It was beautiful! We left there to go to a museum about bronze bells. I have a lot of brochures about it, so I'll look at them to remember what exactly the museum was about. Fuminori walked with me and explained a lot of the exhibits. Before we left we dressed up like traditional rice farmers in robes and funny hats and took a picture in front of a big bell. They also bought me some beautiful prints of sutras. 

We stopped back at the apartment and I got my bag. Taku complained a lot, threw things and kicked toys. They decided to drive back to Kyoto in the hopes that the kids would sleep. Taku yelled most of the way there. Marino gave me a set with a mirror and coin purse made of kimono material. She told me I am her younger sister ad she made me promise to come back to Japan and visit. I tried to tell her how special her family is to me, since they are the only family I stay with in Japan. They're my Japanese family. But I started getting choked up so I stopped. When we got back to Higashiyama, Marino and I and Yaku got out of the car and Fuminori went to look for parking. Inside we waited for G so she could meet him. We talked for a while over cookies and coffee. It started getting to be time for dinner so we waited outside for the car. When he pulled up he said hi to G and I said bye to Marino. We hugged, my eyes teared up, they waved to me until the car was out of sight. Ichie Ichigo. I miss them and can't wait to send them a post card or email.

We ate dinner, had a seminar about Hiroshima, went for a walk, and watched F get drunk on his gift-bottle of sake.

10:00pm HYH
This morning started out very early on the subway and then we took a bullet train- Shinkansen- to Hiroshima. The train was the second fastest in Japan, not the first. Still it went really fast. Scenery went whipping by. We passed whole mountains in a minute or two. It did feel smoother than a normal train but it swayed a lot. It's like being in an airplane with turbulence for two hours. I did get a little motion sickness when I looked out the windows, but once I stared at the inside of the train for a while I was ok.

We arrived in the bustling Hiroshima metropolis and took a trolley to the Peace Park. The first thing we saw was the A-Bomb dome. The building is just a brick and concrete shell. We walked quickly through the park to the museum. We walked past the Peace Flame that will only go out when all the nuclear weapons have been destroyed. At the museum we first had a speech by the president of the park. Then we had two hours to walk around. It started pretty tame: videos of mushroom clouds and airplanes, photos of the destroyed city. All through this I was struck by the timeliness of of our visit here. We, the US, did this terrible thing to other human beings. We created this living hell of fire and blood. What happened in New York was devastating, but we have produced so much worse. The death toll from the bomb was hundreds of thousands.

Anyway, the next session was about nuclear weapons. It was scary to think that not only can today's missiles cause so much more damage, there are so many of them. There was a video about nuclear winter. There it first hit me tat any use of nuclear weapons would kill everyone. I started changing my mind about war. Before today I considered joining the Reserves to fight for our country.

The next section detailed the effects on human beings. The first part was a diorama showing a mother and son running from the burning city with their skin falling off and bleeding. There were photos of victims' skin, faces, arms. Actual clothing that had to be cut away from the bodies of burning children. Fingernails, hair, scar-tissue, a watch stopped at 8:15am, pieces of glass found in the bodies of victims after they were cremated. It turned my stomach in the most unbelievable way. To see what we did to human beings, children. War is such a terrible thing. There could never be any reason to create this hell on Earth.

We left and went to eat our box lunches in the park. While I ate I started thinking of the people who died right where I was sitting. I looked over towards the sky where the hypocenter was and imagined how it must have felt to watch that bomb fall through the air and realize a split second before that you were going to die.

Wow. I'm way off subject. Ok. After lunch we walked around the basement of the museum. It was an exhibit dedicated to a girl who folded 1,000 paper cranes while praying to get better from the leukemia she had. She died when she was, maybe 12. I folded a crane myself and wrote on the wings: For Peace in USA and World.

Our next event was to attend a presentation by a bomb survivor. I didn't really catch her name but she looked a little like a Jewish mother. It was a translated speech so it began a little slow. Many of us were crying by the end of it, especially as she described the death of her mother. I took notes as she spoke so I would always remember her story. This woman and other people like her are the most vivid reasons for Peace I can imagine. When it was over I had G take a picture of me with her and told her I thought she looked beautiful. We gave her a standing ovation.

We next took a walking tour of the park. There were many big and small monuments. One to Korean victims, children, the students who were working on the roads and died, and many many others. We (G) placed our paper cranes at the memorial to the children and the girl with leukemia. We ended back at the A-Bomb dome, and this time it meant so much more to me. The inscription on the memorial to those who died keeps sticking in my mind: we will not let this evil happen again. We can't have a war. It's the worst possible event humans can produce.


10:20pm Kimura House
I'm frustrated with my lack of journalling. Yesterday it was hard for me to sit in class because I was so excited. When class was over, G and I ran to a bookstore and bought books for our families. We got lunch at McDonalds- thinking it would be the last time for a while. When we got back, there were people everywhere. G grabbed his stuff and headed for Osaka. I ate my lunch and sat in the classroom with the others who were meeting families in Kyoto. There were tons of mothers and a few children. There were maybe 2 or 3 men. We were trying to guess which ones were ours. I guessed right! I recognized my host mother from her picture. She looked just as cute and tiny in person. We played some games and at the end we left.

Marino- my host mother- is a little shorter than 5' tall. She is so sweet! We took the subway to the train station. The whole trip we were with Lindsay and her host mother Madu, and Robin who was meeting hers later. Marino helped carry Madu's children. Marino and I spoke on the train a little and I showed her my pictures. She thinks G is cute and Jimmy is VERY cute! She was very honest and speaks good English. Her family is moving to San Francisco next year and she wants Taku and Yuki to learn English so they can go to school. Marino is to tiny, like a little stick figure. I bet she'd be a child's size 14 at the biggest. She reminds me of my tiny Aunt Lynn. Anyway, at Robin's stop her host mother wasn't there so we got off the train and waited only a few minutes. The other mother was very sorry. We got on the next train and went one stop, I had no idea where I was, so I stayed close to Marino.

We got off the train and took a cab to their apartment. She kept saying they live in the country, but it looked like the same size as my hometown. They even have a few Pachinko parlors. She said a lot that her house was small. When we got there and walked to the door I noticed that many of the doors were very close together. The doors were all metal and there were decorative bars over all the windows. It really didn't look on the outside like a place for a doctor to live. She opened the door and let me walk into the genkan first. Right away I turned around and took my shoes off, carefully stepping out of them.

She stared at me with her mouth wide open. "So polite! Such good manner!" She kicked off her shoes and walked in. No inside slippers. She said she was first going to show me around. The first room on the left was my room. By my standards it's huge with a queen size bed, desk on the floor, and vanity table made of wood. It's about half the size of my brother's room but the fact that this large amount of space (and enormous bed) almost made me cry. Across from my room was the bath/laundry room- although the washing machine was covered in stuff, implying that it wasn't used very often. I didn't get a good look at the tub and shower but there was a sink with a mirror next to the washing machine. Next on the right was a tiny toilet room. The toilet was the type that as a sink on top that runs water when you flush. The light's on the outside of the room and I keep forgetting to turn it on.

Through a slitted curtain was the rest of the house. A small, but very nice kitchen, a kitchen table, and a complete desk. To the left are two tatami rooms. One serves only as the children's bedroom, and the other is a TV room with a long closet/dresser and a low table. I think they might have given me their bedroom!

Marino offered me something to drink and I took some orange juice. We sat in the tatami room and she showed me her wedding pictures. She had a traditional Japanese wedding. Both her husband and she were in traditional kimono, and she had an enormous Star Wars hat on with a Japanese wig. Her face, neck, and hands were painted white. Her husband was wearing the same outfit G had on at the kimono demonstration. All the family members were there- the men wore suits and the women all wore kimono. There were a few pictures of the actual ceremony, and many posed pictures of Marino and her husband. She did not smile in any of them and she said that was ok. There were a few pictures in a white wedding kimono, then a huge blue evening dress- Western style, then a red kimono with a really heavy head piece, and a white Western-style wedding dress.

After looking at photos we went to pick up the children from nursery school. We went in the car- a Toyota station wagon. It as weird to sit on the opposite side. Once we got there we saw the teachers all standing in the rain with umbrellas saying hello to mothers and goodbye to the children. I had to wear a blue ribbon because I was a guest. There was a playground with sand and gravel that kids were using to get dirty. All the children stopped and stared at me when I was near. I usually smiled, but then they ran away. Inside were more children (we had taken our shoes off outside) and tatami mat play areas. Marino looked for her children. They popped up right in front of us. Taku was very "active" though in America we'd say hyper-active. Yuki was very quiet and just stared and smiled. We walked around the school a little. The classrooms did look like American classrooms. I met someone who I think was the principal. I'm not sure though.

Marino collected Japanese lunch boxes and bed rolls. She said on Friday she always takes home the furniture. We got back into the car- the kids both sat/stood/played in the front seat and I in the back. I don't remember if we stopped home at first, but we went to the video store. There was an American movie section and Marino told me to pick something out. I chose something with Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudro and some other famous people. None of the words on the box were in English, but Marino said the movie was called, "Hug on the Phone". Taku chose a Japanese action cartoon. When we started to leave, Marino realized she forgot the video rental card. She tried talking the clerk into letting her rent anyway but the clerk wouldn't let her. We left and went to buy food for Sunday's lunch. I told her I like yakisoba so we bought that. It looked exactly like an American grocery store except for all the Japanese people, and the labels on the food. The kids ran first to the candy aisle. She let them pick out some sweets. Taku chose a tiny plastic gun that popped out white balls of candy. Essentially you have to put the front of the gun in your mouth to eat the candy. It didn't seem to bother anyone else, so I didn't say anything. Marino pressured me into picking a sweet that I liked but since I didn't know what anything was I asked her to recommend something good.

After that we got the yakisoba ingredients and went home. Marino said she was going to make tempura for dinner and I asked if I could help. She said yes but when the time came she told me to go rest. I told her I was ok, but she insisted I go rest, so I laid down in my room. This bed is so comfortable! First, it's huge! Then, it's got a real pillow and a very heavy thick comforter.

Taku came and got me to play. We kinda just stared at each other then we watched TV together. Marino's husband came home (I really need to learn his name) and we sat down for dinner. He's a bigger guy than most Japanese men. He's gained some weight, Marino told me. Dinner was good, but there were some things I didn't finish. Marino said if I don't like something I could just leave it. So I left the fish and tofu and mushroom pudding. But the rice was good. They told me that after dinner we were going to go to the public bath. Marino said I should bring a change of clothes, hairbrush, and facial soap. So, I packed up those things and we all got back into the car. Fuminori (husband) drove and Marino sat in back with Yuki and Taku. The kids weren't in seat belts or anything. Once we got there I fully understood why it's called a "public bath". It was as big as a YMCA and as crowded with as many people. Both children bathed with Marino. Everyone stared at me. I was probably the first American to ever bathe there. I was embarrassed for the first 10 minutes but after that I guess I just got used to walking around naked. The facility was huge. There was a small cold-spring, a big swimming pool-sized shallow hot part, jacuzzi part with 5-6 individual spa sections- all three inside. We went outside (it had tall walls) and there was a rock pool (I stubbed my toes a few times), waterfall, cave area, and Chinese scented pool. There were also what looked like two faucets about 10 feet in the air that shot down water onto women's backs. I don't know how long we stayed there, but Marino noticed that my face was very red and we got out. Once we got dressed there was a room with mirrors and hair dryers. Marino dried Yuki's and her own hair. Again, women were staring. Once in a while they would talk to Marino about me but I never knew what she was saying.

Back in the main area, Fuminori had bought the kids ice cream and they were filthy again. In the main area was a restaurant, a snack bar, video games and a bar. The atmosphere was very social. We left there and stopped at the video store to get the videos we picked out earlier. A last stop at Lawson for bottles of water and more ice cream for the children, then we went home. Fuminori left again for the hospital, Marino started doing laundry, the kids fell asleep soon and I watched my movie by myself. Marino folded laundry and watched the end of the movie with me. The girl's father dies. So I cried a little bit and she didn't understand why the movie made me sad. It was after midnight when the movie was over- so then I just went to bed and had the best night sleep ever.

Friday, October 6, 2017


7pm Kimura House
There is so much I want to write about today- but first I have to try to remember yesterday! After class G went to change money (again) and we went out for lunch. We were hungry for sushi and found a place with nice-looking plastic sushi. We went in and were greeted by a hostess in kimono. Immediately we knew we were in trouble. Hostesses usually mean expensive. The sushi wasn't on the menu and it didn't look like the type of place where we could take the waiter outside. So G ordered what was a whole lot of raw fish (no with rice, just the fish) and I ordered something that looked very much like fried something. I assumed beef, pork, or chicken- worst case scenario fish. But I took one bite and it wasn't any of those. I choked down 3 of the 5 and made G eat the other 2. After lunch our goal was to find "Ray's" and experience Kyoto pottery.

We only got a little lost, but we did eventually find it. We had a very nice teacher whose name I don't have with me. She showed me how to make sake cups and G how to make a vase. G went to town and made a nice vase. I ended up with a huge scrap pile of clay under a wet towel. My sake cups were always too big, the clay too thin, and the mouth too big. I tried to say it was wabi/sabi but she just shook her head and said that only tea cups can be wabi/sabi. She compared the rim of my cups to a beautiful mountain range, and started laughing. G made 1 vase and put some feet on my sake cups. I made 2 sake cups and a bowl, maybe it's a tea bowl. By the end I was pretty frustrated.

Then came the bill. As the man who I assume was Ray came out, a woman brought out some cups with Calpis and little chocolates. For both of us instructions and shipping home pottery to my house it was Y9700. It seems a lot to me, but Dr. Prescott said it's pretty cheap.

We came back and indulged in hand lotion, then ate dinner. After dinner we found out there was a 7pm meeting. We went to that and I took a shower. Soon after, Meghan had a french fry emergency so we went to McDonalds. We got there just as they were closing but got food anyway.

When we got back to the Hostel there were tables set up with snacks and the dining room floor was cleared. Apparently, Norio wanted us to have a party with his staff members. At about 9:30pm he made an announcement, "It is now time for dancing. Please come down and dance now." The lights turned off and the music started. I didn't really know any of it, but we all danced anyway. The Australians came down and we all had a great time. It was just the experience we all needed to get over the bad stuff that's been going on.

Someone even took out the Emergency Only flashlights and we played with those for a while. I felt right at home making patterns on the ceiling with flashlights.


5pm HYH
I really don't remember anything about the temple. Maybe it was closed. We walked from there backwards through the covered mall and near the subway station to meet the rest of the group. We all got back ok, ate dinner, and showered (we didn't all shower together). G and I then went out to find The Hub- a supposedly great and cheap bar close to the Hostel. It took us a while to find it and it wasn't all that impressive once we did. A few scattered tables of Australians, some Y500 mixed drinks, and we were bored by 9pm. We stopped to buy some CD's for G's new CD player and came back. We had and 10:30pm meeting about E and H going home and that was it.