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Nihon de: The adventures of Maggie » Asakusa
 
2

Across the Universe

Posted by maggie on Jun 3, 2012 in In Japan

Occasionally I slip Beatles themes and subplots in here. I have no idea why. But there is an irish pub just inside Tamachi station, and every time I pass it after school, I swear the Beatles are playing. Just yesterday this guy at the ramen shop we went to was playing Coldplay on his iPod.

Music that I’m familiar with is pretty popular here, it seems. Even with all the Jpop and Kpop and such. It’s probably a stereotype I developed from watching anime. Of course Japanese people don’t always just listen to their own country’s music. Americans don’t, although I can count the number of times I’ve heard general Japanese music outside a convention on one hand. It seems we prefer to listen to things we can understand. But I liked listening to music in other languages even when I had no idea what it meant. Sometimes music just speaks to you, and it doesn’t matter how.

Now, to go on a totally different tangent, someone else mentioned this to me yesterday, and I do admit it seems odd. There appear to be a few cases of an American man dating a Japanese woman, but you don’t see much or any of the reverse. While I was on the train the other day, I met a family from Alabama riding on my train, and the father told me that his wife, who wasn’t there at that moment, was born and bred Japanese. I can see the appeal of one being exotic to the other, or maybe presenting more of a challenge in connecting because of the communication gap. But really, why are there so few Japanese men and American women couples? Do the guys find them mostly unattractive? Or is it that the girls see Japanese automatically think “this is the man you will walk one step behind the rest of your life.” Although, to be fair, that can happen in the states too, depending on the couple.

I’ve heard someone say that a friend of theirs, whose origin I have forgotten, got fed up with her husband because she was basically taking care of the man. He couldn’t cook or clean or do some things most American guys and girls would consider basic, and she didn’t want another child to take care of. These thoughts reminded me of each other, and I was wondering if there was something more to them than they appear.

Today I went back to Sensoji Temple in Asakusa to buy a charm. I’ve been collecting charms from every temple or shrine I go to, and I realized I had forgotten to buy one while we were at the festival. I decided to do that instead of going to the baseball game that everyone was attending. I made this decision because I was feeling a little sick and not particularly social, and I was a little short on cash today. The charm was cheaper than a ticket to the game, but I can’t help but feel I passed up a good opportunity.

Oh well. I’m sure there will be a chance to go to another one when I have more cash. Just a shame that I didn’t get to hang with people today.

But, as for not being social, Asakusa was not a particularly good place to go. Full of people, and all of them walking like it’s a funeral procession. Walking slow is one of my pet peeves, especially if I know where I want to go and know how to get there. For some reason I could get over the crowded trains with no problem, but I still have trouble getting over large crowds of slow moving people. It’s because walking slow hurts my legs after a while, and it strikes me as rude, personally, when people do that without clearing a space for faster traffic. It’s like driving, and having two cars in front of me taking up the only two lanes and driving at relatively the same speed. I respect your desire to sight see and take your time, but please respect my time and let me get by.

I originally thought Japan would be politer than the states overall, but then I remembered that what I consider polite is not necessarily the same thing. Oh well. :) I figure it’s better to know yourself and your limits, and judge whether or not you can get past them.

It was a good day, though; I enjoyed getting a seat on the JR line and just riding around, watching the passing scenery while I chilled to my iPod. Then I took advantage of that wonderful bath again, and now I feel good as new. Sometimes you just need a day to recover. After all, I went to the beach yesterday, and that took a bit out of me.

It was so much fun. A bunch of us went to the beach at Enoshima. We met up in Kamakura and caught a tram from there. Sorry, I don’t have any pictures this time. I didn’t want to take the camera in case it got lost, stolen, or sandy. But there wasn’t much to say, other than the sand was black, and the island was tiny. I believe it is devoted to a goddess by the name of Benzaiten, who made the island rise out of the sea sometime in the 500’s A.D.

We ate lunch and looked for shells (sadly, they don’t look much different from shells you can get from the east or west coast of the U.S., but I picked up a few anyway), and then we played some volleyball. After that, we went back to Kamakura for some dinner, a popular ramen restaurant in the area. By the way, authentic ramen is so much better than that cheap stuff we buy in packages and cups in America. :) Then we went on to Zushi to catch the last bit of a fireworks festival. We didn’t go far into Zushi, but we got there just in time to see some fireworks (or hanabi, as the Japanese call them). Then some of us went home, and I was included in that group :)

And there was much Japanese practice that day :) Riho brought friends with her, and they all seemed very nice.

It felt weird to stand on this side of the pacific, and even just go in the water a little. It’s weird to think that way over there across the sea is where all my friends and family are. My house, my apartment, my car, dog, etc. etc. It all seems so surreal after just a few weeks of being here. Now America is the far off place that’s weird to imagine, and Japan feels somewhat more natural and almost home.

I keep thinking about home, though. What’s happening over there? How far of a swim would it really be?

A long one, I’ll tell you that much. :) I still wish I could break things up and visit home, just because I miss home. I only got to spend 3-4 days there before I went on this trip. And it’s not just a couple hours away anymore.

I don’t think I’ll stay in the same place forever, but it will feel weird at some point to move away, when that’s the place you’ve known for so long. I remember missing my grandparent’s old house in North Carolina because I had so many good memories there.

Too much thinking about random things, yeah?

I feel bad for not going to the game, if only for the experience. It reminds me that I have yet to go to a football game at JMU, which I desperately need to do before I graduate. I have seen a basketball game, though, so I don’t feel like the worst student. :) It’d be fun to get a couple of friends to go, or maybe my friend who now lives in the area with her family. That’d be cool. But it reminds me that a lot of my pals just graduated, at that makes me a little sad.

As usual, thoughts jumping all over the place. I’m partly watching the world cup soccer game between Japan and Oman. Japan’s doing very well right now. Hideki-san tells me that they need to win this game, so I hope they do. There, I am getting some sports exposure today :)

7-11 is a big deal over here. It has commercials. I don’t remember seeing any commercials for 7-11 at home. Because it’s just a convenience store. But here, it’s a god send, really. It has the atm, usually in English or at least with an English language option. It also has some of the most delicious, but decently cheap and low cal pork buns. It makes me happy.

I keep wondering what my work will be like. I know it’s at least three weeks off, but I’m curious and I like to be as prepared as I can be. I’ve started thinking about all the supplies I’ll need when I’m no longer living with Sueko-san. I hope I can keep on surviving :)

I miss you all, and really thank you for the support you’ve given me. I keep you guys in my thoughts, and as much as I like it here, I can’t wait to come home and see you. Or just talk to you, depending on where you live. :)

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3

Sanja Matsuri

Posted by maggie on May 19, 2012 in In Japan

Today was a lot of fun. We went to Sesoji Temple in Asakusa for the Sanji Festival. We were chased frequently by moving shrines, “mikoshi,” well not really chased by them, but everywhere we went, we would come out of a shop only to find them right outside, creating a large crowd. The temple is apparently the oldest in Tokyo, and the festival is about two fisherman brothers who caught a statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon in their fishing net, and a third guy who converted them to Buddhism. They then took care of the statue and consecrated it in the temple.

Saori, one of the Keio students we met yesterday, met up with us (the girls) at Ueno station, and from there we went to Asakusa. There was much shopping involved, lots of wandering and looking at vendors and sharing food we got. I tried takoyaki (fried octopus meatballs) and immediately burned most of the inside of my mouth. At least I wasn’t the only one. :)

It was good, I remember that much. But because my mouth is numb now, I can’t really remember what it tasted like. Just that it was good.

Katie tried the little game where children try to catch little goldfish in a net. She didn’t win, but the game owner gave her two fish anyway. Then, while Cindy and I were getting fortunes told, I wanted to take a picture of mine. As the picture shot, Katie’s bag of goldfish spilled out, so n my picture, there appears to be a goldfish randomly sitting on the top of my fortune. That was a funny moment once we got them safely back in the bag.

 

We had yakitori (fried chicken) too, and I got a shaved ice because my mouth was still hurting like heck. It still hurts, actually, but it’s better now. It was a fun experience.

Coming home, Hideki-san showed me his photography portfolio, which was really cool. And Sueko-san practically dumped all this stuff into my arms. She gave me a lot of stuff; it was free for her, so I guess I feel a bit better. But still. I was so confused at first, but that made her laugh and she kept giving me stuff. It’s pretty cool actually. Also, apparently there is supposed to be a solar eclipse on Monday around 7 in the morning. I want to see that, maybe take a picture if I can.

All in all, it was a great night. Shopping fun, sight-seeing, making new friends, all that good stuff. I had such a good time. If only every day could be that fun. I’m just going to keep hoping all the days will be, because that will make this the best trip ever. It reminds me of how lucky I am, and how grateful I am to my parents for getting me here. I wouldn’t be here without them, literally :)

Also, love Sueko-san so much. She’s like my Japanese grandmother, like Ozeki-sensei from JMU but easier to understand, believe it or not. I think I’m getting better at speaking with her. I just have to keep working at it.

 

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