Several Months

•July 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I promised before to write blogs more frequently, but before I knew it, it had been several months! It wasn’t until an email from a family member that I remembered. I then considered switching over to tumblr, which I find more user-friendly, but I also don’t want to split my blog in half. So here I am, playing catch-up.

A lot can certainly happen over a few months. I feel like this whole year has just flown by. The past few months feel completely different from the few months before that, and those all feel completely different from any part of 2012. I guess this is what becoming an adult feels like.

Here are some of the things that have been noteworthy since I last wrote:

  • I had plans for Golden Week, but I ended up staying in Kagoshima. Which was perfectly fine, I got to hang out with one of the other former HUSA exchange students – the vocalist in our jazz band! We had a long-time coming karaoke party.
  • Another friend came to visit me in Kagoshima at the beginning of June. It was the middle of the rainy season, but we went to the volcano anyway. She said it reminded her of Jurassic Park.
  • Daytrip to Fukuoka! By shinkansen, it only takes an hour and a half. We went shopping, met up with a Japanese friend who spent a year in Minnesota, got the famous Hakata ramen, and saw Matenrou Opera (not actually an opera) live.
  • ViViD – a visual band I’m rather fond of – came to Kagoshima! On the way out, a local band handed me a flier. I decided to go to their show as well. All of the visual bands in Kyushu were there, and I ended up enjoying it more than the major band. I made friends with some of the girls at the show, and we all hung out with the bands after.
  • There was a festival last night. I haven’t been to a festival in a while, so it was great to wear yukata and eat festival foods! This festival was Rokugatsudo. The roku gatsu means sixth month, or June, but that’s because it’s based on the lunar calendar. The crowds were huge, the fireworks were great, and when I got my fortune, it said I had good luck for once!
A mist covered Sakurajima.

A mist covered Sakurajima.

Two girls all ready for the festival.

Two girls all ready for the festival.

July is proving to be incredibly busy. That seems to be the norm in this line of work. This is my last week of classes before entering summer break. A lot of other ALTs are going back to their countries. Soon their replacements will be coming. People are moving apartments. People will be changing schools. There are goodbye and welcome parties, not to mention friends trying to get in as much time together as they can before hopping on planes. The majority of my time is going to be monopolized for these next few weeks. Let’s see if I can get through it without collapsing on the way.

 

針嫌だ!

•April 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment

After my great time in Tokyo, I had the misfortune of becoming ill. At first I thought it was a cold, so I wasn’t too concerned. Then my lymph nodes blew up like balloons, so I decided to go to the doctor. After another day, I woke up after dozing off to find that I could barely breathe through my swollen tonsils. I should give a thanks to my friend in Fukuoka who ended up calming me down, as she was the only one awake at that hour. I managed to make it through the night and go see the doctor again. He referred me to an ear-nose-throat doctor who told me I had tonsillitis. Lovely.

And that started my journey.

This second doctor gave me a boatload of pills, but they all had to be taken after eating. I discovered by dinner time that I was unable to eat. I could swallow things, but it took about a minute each time to will my body to do so. Whenever I did it hurt so much that tears would come out of my eyes. I never felt like crying, they just came out as a reflex. So I decided to see if the doctor could do anything else for me.

When I went a second time, she said that my tonsils had become even more swollen. “I think I should give you this injection,” she told me, pulling out one of the biggest needles I’ve ever seen. Now let me tell you, I hate needles to begin with. They are my number one fear. On top of that, I couldn’t swallow my own spit without flinching, so there was no way a needle was going in peacefully. “I’ll definitely move,” I told the doctor. Her response was to tell me that if I moved it would be very dangerous, and then calling two nurses to pin my arms down. Needless to say, this didn’t inspire any confidence in me. I was reduced to a child, repeating something like, “No needles!” over and over again. She almost got the tip of the needle in my mouth before deciding perhaps poking me wasn’t the best idea.

With a sigh she told me I’d have to go to the hospital if I didn’t take the needle. She said I could get an IV first, and think about what I’d rather do.

Getting an IV wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about, either. Needles, after all. I kept repeating the litany of “I hate needles,” while the nurse prepared the equipment. I thought about my trip to Disney Land while she stuck it in, probably because commercials have convinced me it’s the happiest place on Earth. The nurse was nice enough to cover my arm with a towel so I wouldn’t have to see the needle sticking out.

I tried to mentally prepare myself for the larger needle waiting outside, but the doctor came in and told me it was probably best for me just to go to the hospital. Great. I started mentally preparing myself to get my tonsils removed.

The doctor ended up calling my supervisor, who drove me to the hospital and helped me get all checked in. I would never have found my way around alone. Are hospitals all over the world such a labyrinth? I’ve only spent time in hospitals while in Japan: when my friend was injured in Hiroshima, and these past few weeks.

The doctor here told me that my condition wasn’t so serious that I needed my tonsils removed, but it was still fairly bad. He even stuck a camera down my nose, mostly I think to show me what was going on in my throat. He told me it probably wouldn’t feel too good, but anything was better than that huge needle. More than anything I remember changing my breathing patterns just to see my larynx move on the screen.

It turned out I needed more IVs. I still wasn’t exactly accustomed to getting stabbed, so I started whining about hating needles again. An old woman on the other side of the room laughed and said, “No one likes needles.” I responded with, “No, I mean needles are the #1 worst!” My supervisor joined in. “More than snakes?” I told her I like snakes. She didn’t believe me. I probably imagined snakes while they put the needle in.

It ended up that I would need two IVs each day. They gave me some more painkillers, this time with stomach coating pills so that I could take them before eating. It was nice to be eating again. It wasn’t so nice to get two needles a day. I tried really hard to picture all kinds of dumb things when they pricked me. I thought about Pokemon for some reason, and Lugia’s song. I thought about people I knew. At one point I thought about Yamada Ryosuke, ended up imagining him in a doctor’s uniform, and then confusing the nurse when I giggled. Oops.

After a week of two needles a day and very worn out veins, the doctor put me on normal antibiotics. Two days passed before I had an allergic reaction exactly like one I’d had to other antibiotics as a child. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I ever get the plague, because I seem to be allergic to a lot of antibiotics. I ended up getting allergy pills and being told that it would be okay for me to stop the medication. “Are you sure?” I asked, not wanting to go through another round of tonsillitis and IVs. I was assured it would be okay.

I bet you can guess what happened next.

A week later and I got to have all that fun again! Apparently they won’t remove tonsils until you get tonsillitis four times in one year, and I suppose I’m not complaining – surgery wouldn’t be fun. My count is only two, but I’m hoping this time I have the upper hand. I finished IVs on Monday, and I’m almost done with all the medicine this time. I’m also going to take it nice and easy this weekend. A third time would not be very charming. I definitely want to be able to spend my Golden Week to the fullest, so I need to be all better by then.

Golden Week! A week of holidays which everyone in Japan gets off. I have two friends coming to visit, and I don’t want to give them a tour of Kagoshima’s hospitals. Let’s hope after that week is over I have a much more interesting story to tell!

Long Time No See, Tokyo!

•March 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“Long time no see,” could also be applied to this blog! I guess various things have been going on, but I haven’t been much in the mood to write about them I suppose. I saw Matsushita Yuya in Kumamoto sometime in February, and my third-year students graduated recently, but I never got around to writing about those things.

But now I’m writing about my trip to Tokyo this past week!

There are two reasons I chose to go at this particular time. One: my favorite singer’s band was playing on the 16th. Two: my birthday was this week!

I took a plane up to Tokyo the morning of the 16th and took a train over to Yokohama, where the concert was going to take place. There I met R, who was going to spend the weekend with me. We stashed our stuff away and then headed off to the venue.

The band we saw is called “Gotcharocka.” I believe in the past I’ve mentioned Jui, the vocalist. I really love the tone of his voice, and I’ve been a fan of his since I was in high school. When I was in Japan last, however, I never got to see him live. His old band, Vidoll, broke up halfway through the year, and I didn’t have the money to see his solo concert. So I was very excited that I’d finally be able to see him!

The crowd was exactly how I’d expected it to be – visual kei fans dressed in over-the-top outfits, and mostly girls. R, dressed like a normal guy, told me he felt out of place. Once the concert started, though, he joined right in with all of the ridiculous dances visual fans do. I hadn’t expected him to join in so easily, so I couldn’t help but laugh. The show was fun, and Jui’s voice sounded as lovely as I expected it to.

While we all cheered for the first encore, R went off to the bathroom. While he was gone the band’s rhythm guitarist Toya came onstage and started singing “Happy Birthday” for no apparent reason. Of course, when it got to the part to insert someone’s name, everyone paused. Then the rest of the band came out and asked Toya why he chose to sing that song. When he shrugged, Jui asked, “Is it actually anyone’s birthday today?” My hand shot up into the air. “Really?”

“Well, it’s actually Monday…”

“Oh well.” Jui then asked my name and sang happy birthday with the crowd. I could hardly believe it! I was off in an entirely different world. R came back halfway through, totally shocked. “What the heck happened while I was gone!?”

The band ended up playing through their entire discography, including my favorite song as the finale. It was a lovely night.

The next day, since we were staying in Yokohama, we went to Yokohama’s Chinatown. It’s the biggest in Japan!

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But before we actually got to Chinatown, we ended up getting off at a station very far away. We walked for a long time to get there. Though the walk was nice, it took a lot out of us. We grabbed some delicious food from a small stand and chowed down in a nearby park before wandering down Chinatown’s crowded main street once. When we looked at the clock, we realized it was already afternoon. We had plans for the afternoon, too.

Originally we thought of going to the amusement park Fuji-Q, but we thought of another comparably priced park that was much closer to Tokyo. Can you guess where?

IMG_0324I’ve actually never been to a Disney park, whether in America or elsewhere. I do remember my parents saying that something Disney was very good at was hiding the lines waiting for rides. I learned that was true right away. I thought the rides were way shorter than the wait warranted, though I did enjoy the Tower of Terror. At least I had R to play stupid games with while waiting in line. Rock-paper-scissors, 20 questions, shiritori, and a couple Japanese games whose names I don’t know. Things also cleared up as it got dark and the younger kids went home. All-in-all it was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired as I was that night, though.

The next day we hung out around Tokyo. For lunch we went to a sushi place where I tried the infamous fugu fish, this time raw.

IMG_5763You might remember the Simpsons episode that involved this fish being prepared improperly. Well, it’s been more than 24 hours, and I’m still living. It didn’t have all that much flavor, but I still enjoyed it. I also had sea urchin for the first time. Though it’s always available at sushi places, I never bothered to try it. Looking at it always reminds me of the time in middle school when we had to dissect starfish – that’s exactly what it looks like. It turns out that I actually like it, though. R isn’t a fan, so I ate his, too.

After this we did a bit of shopping in Harajuku. Since we were between hotels, R was carrying a lot of stuff and couldn’t climb the narrow stairs into the stores. He looked incredibly bored, so I decided to cut things off early. Instead we went to Ueno Park to look at the cherry blossoms that had just started coming out.

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Spring in Japan is truly beautiful. It’s my favorite time of year.

That night R had been planning to go back to Saijo in order to pack all his things, as he’s moving. Somehow or another, we ended up going to his hometown of Nagano, an hour away by bullet train. Though it had been another tiring day, we met up with R’s friend and girlfriend and went to Round 1. Round 1 is the kind of place where you can go bowling, play arcade games, do batting cages, things like that. The two we met up with were an amusing pair. The word R used was バカップル (bakappuru), a combination of the word “baka” (stupid) and “couple.” You can probably imagine what kind of people they were from that.

Once again, it was a tiring day. It was the kind of vacation you need a vacation from. Not that I regret it – every day was fun.

The next day we bussed back to Tokyo, where R had to catch a bullet train back in time to do his packing. I had another half-day in Tokyo, but as we’d gotten up so early that day after such a late night, I went straight to sleep.

On my final half day, I decided to see the recently erected Tokyo Sky Tree. It’s an absolutely huge tower that can be seen almost anywhere in the city. Considering all the skyscrapers in Tokyo, that’s quite a feat. The crowds at the place were unbelievable. Once I got there I had to get a ticket promising me I could buy an actual admission ticket two hours later. Of course, I had nothing better to do, so I decided to loiter around until the time came. There was a shop inside the base of the tower with goods from all kinds of Japanese television shows, so I spent a while browsing. When I went back outside a street performer had just started a show, so I blew another half an hour there. Really, the time passed by easily.

Then I got my ticket and was boosted 350 meters into the air. The view showed the concrete ocean that is Tokyo, spanning out in all directions.

IMG_5778I don’t know if it was really worth the admittance fee, but I did enjoy the view. There were also screens showing timelapses, and some showing what fireworks look like from the tower. I walked around the circumference on three different floors and tried to find places I knew. It’s really hard to tell from that height.

And then I had to hop a plane back to Kagoshima. The ride only takes about an hour and forty minutes, but I was eager to get back. It was really a tiring few days! I’m quite glad I only have two days to work this week. I don’t think I could handle the whole five day thing.

Well, I haven’t been writing a lot of blogs lately, but hopefully I won’t leave a large gap again. My mom keeps scolding me over skype for not writing. I’ll try to do better!

Huge Apartments and the Holidays

•January 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The holiday season in Japan is a lot different than how it is in the U.S., for several reasons. I suppose the biggest would be that Christmas isn’t a national holiday. Instead of Christmas being the big thing, it’s New Year’s. Even though it’s eight days into the New Year, people are still wishing me a Happy New Year all the time.

Once classes ended for the season, I went to Saijo again. A lot of the ALTs would be traveling, so I thought it would be too lonely to stay. Instead I decided I would spend the holidays with friends up there.

On Saturday, I was invited to S’s Christmas party. It was in an apartment complex downtown that I’d never been to. I was really surprised when we got inside! It looked like a suburban American house on the inside! It was truly roomy, and I didn’t even get to see half of it. It felt a bit like a normal Christmas, especially when the food came out!

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There was a real turkey! In Japan it’s tradition to eat chicken on Christmas, for whatever reason. But this party had a turkey! Not only that, but S’s roommate is an excellent cook. Everything was delicious, like that vegetable Christmas tree in the back – it was filled with potato salad! While we ate course after course of things that S’s roommate spent the day making, everyone mingled. There were tons of really smart people there, so it was fun to talk to them.

The day after this I met with the current exchange student from Minnesota. We went to another party with more very good food, and once again it was hosted in a very big apartment.

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We had taco night! Mexican food is another thing you can’t really get in Japan. I know what we made isn’t authentic Mexican, but it’s definitely close to what we eat back in the U.S. The Minnesotan exchange student had received all of the fixings for Christmas from her parents, and she was kind enough to share it with us. We ate it in her friend’s apartment – a giant two story place one train stop away from Hiroshima City. He lived alone, so when we first got there it felt a bit lonely. But when we moved up to the room he spent most of his time in, it felt a lot more lived in and cozy. The group there was, to be honest, quite immature, but that kind of made it fun. The whole thing reminded me of sleepovers from days gone by.

The next day was Christmas Eve. That’s a funny thing in Japan. Last time I spent Christmas Eve in this country, all of us exchange students went to a party together. This year, however, I got to witness what it’s really like. What’s it really like? Well… Couples. Nothing but couples, as far as the eye can see. Especially in the city. I met with one of my male friends after work, and we opted to go to the least romantic izakaya we could find. On the way out he paid for me and said, “It’s because I don’t want to seem like I’m a bad boyfriend on Christmas Eve. I know we’re not dating, but everyone thinks we are if we’re out tonight.”

Christmas Day was no less bizarre. I didn’t do anything until nighttime – I went out drinking with a few new friends.

The park near the Genbaku Dome was lit up prettily, and the Dome itself was stunning. I think that night was the first night I’ve ever seen it lit up.

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Unlike the night before the city was rather dead, but not so much because it was Christmas so much as because it was a Tuesday. In Japan, Christmas is really just like any other day.

A few days later I went with one of these guys to an izakaya and tried fugu – the fish that is notorious if it’s prepared incorrectly. I had it fried, which I think is a bit unusual. I’m still here to tell the tale!

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The last day of interest was when I went to the 忘年会 (bounenkai), or end-of-year party at one of my favorite old hangouts. I got to see the maker of deadly takoyaki for the first time in two years! I came in about five minutes before he arrived. When I did I was facing the bar, and the two bartenders pointed at me when he came in. When I turned around he shouted with surprise. We got a game of darts in for old time’s sake. Before I left he gave me his business card and told me to visit his workplace in Osaka. Sooner or later, I hope to do so!

I came back to Kagoshima on New Year’s Eve. As I’ve said, New Year’s here is much more like Christmas. It’s a time to spend with your family. So instead of going out to a party as I might have in America, I simply went to one of the other ALT’s apartments to watch ガキの使 (Gaki no Tsukai), a ridiculous comedy show broadcast every year on New Year’s Eve. The show is more widely known as, “You Can’t Laugh,” or maybe, “Silent Library” is what Americans know it as. Basically a group is put through a day of ridiculous scenarios in which they can’t laugh or they get hit. Why is this a Japanese New Year’s tradition? I’m not sure, but I did enjoy watching it.

On New Year’s Day some of us ALTs did 初詣 (hatsumoude), or the first shrine visit of the year at Kagoshima City’s Terukuni Shrine. The shrine was really crowded!

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We waited a long time in line to get our chance to pray. I think the others might have been a bit annoyed with the crowds and the waiting. I’m not sure. I just know that I really enjoy the atmosphere in shrines. There’s something about it that really calms me, even when the place is bustling with people. It’s so unlike anything back in the U.S.

As so many other people do on New Year’s Day in Japan, I bought an お守り (omamori), which is basically a good luck charm. I spent a long time looking through all the different ones I could purchase. They have specific ones for luck in everything from money, to romance, to success in school, to general happiness. I bought one that grants one wish if I write it inside. I don’t have anything specific I want to wish for now, so the omamori is hanging with a blank card from my keyboard. If there’s something I really need to wish for, it will be there.Happy 2013 everyone! May it bring you many good things!

Sh*t Japanese Students Say 2

•December 5, 2012 • 2 Comments

155408_10152296515175526_1019606603_nI was correcting some papers today and ran across this beauty.

Which leads me into my second edition of “Sh*t Japanese Students Say.”

Normally during lunch it’s the girls who monopolize my time, asking me to speak in English with them. They like to ask what sort of music I like, what shows I watch, whether I like vocaloid, who I think is the most handsome out of such-and-such group.

But there’s one group who continually quizzes me on their names. “What’s my name?” I’ll get it correct and she’ll look happy, but then her friends chime in:

“No! Her name is 顎 (ago; chin)! Because her chin is her whole face!”

Then they’ll really get started.

“She’s はげ (hage; bald)! Her head is so 眩しい (mabushii; bright) that I can’t pay attention in class!” This is followed by two girls pantomiming themselves shading their eyes from the sun. Or rather, from that girl’s shining head.

“She’s the shortest in this class!”

“But I still have the longest legs!”

They can fill up a good ten minutes like this.

Today, the boys found me before the girls did. Usually they’re outside, but the weather’s gotten a bit too chilly for that now. I’ve forgotten how dorky middle school boys are.

Boy 1: “He’s a hippo!”

Me: “Then what animal are you?”

Other boy: “He’s a skunk! 臭いから… (Because he stinks…)”

By this time, ‘Hippo’ has joined the conversation.

Hippo: “またなんぱ?(Are you flirting with her again?)”

Skunk: “No no no. No なんぱ.” He then turns back to me. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

I’ve been told the best way to avoid this question is to ask the kid if they have a significant other, but he just tells me it’s a secret and asks again.

Me: “Okay. My boyfriend’s name is…”

At this point, three boys are leaning in close to hear what I’m going to say.

“Kamenashi Kazuya.” He’s a very famous actor and member of a boyband called KATTUN.

The kids roll their eyes, but recover quickly.

“Really!?”

“Yes.”

Skunk: “Do you like KATTUN?”

I tell him yes. As far as Japanese boybands go, I feel they’re one of the most tolerable.

Skunk: “Who is cooler? Me or KATTUN?”

Me: “Of course, KATTUN.”

Skunk: “NO. WRONG ANSWER.”

…was I that weird as a junior high school student? I can’t really remember. I probably was.

Days Off

•November 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Last week were midterms for my students at both of my schools. This meant that I would have had no classes. So, instead of sitting around all day, I decided to take a few days off. I went to Saijo again. A lot of people said, “You’re back already?” when I bumped into them. I guess it’s like my second home. My host father and the friend who let me stay with her kept making fun of me. “You’re coming back next month, too. Don’t try to deny it, we already know it.”

Kagoshima is still green, but Hiroshima is full of color!

What did I do in the rural college town?

Wednesday:

  • I met my host father in Hiroshima, who was there to drop a few things off to his son who attends college in the city. He was nice enough to pick me up from the station and drive me to Saijo. He had originally planned to take his son and I out for dinner, but his son was busy that night, so instead he asked me to invite the friend who I was staying with, M. The three of us went to a very nice Japanese-style restaurant near the university that somehow I’d never been to. The food was delicious! M and my host father got along really well. They both liked gossiping about me.
  • After dinner a group of us met at one of my favorite bars. This included the current exchange student from Minnesota, M, my former bandleader, DJ and his friend, and one friend who studied abroad in Minnesota. When the owner of the bar saw us, she said, “Ah, your favorite bartender is working from tomorrow.” I have a reputation.
  • M and DJ went back to her apartment to drink a bit more and chat. DJ told us how he views all of us. He’s strangely perceptive – he was more accurate about some people than I thought he would be.

 

The last course was sushi. The momiji leaf in the center was quite pretty.

 

Thursday

  • M had class, but DJ was incredibly bored. We met up with the exchange student from Minnesota and went on an epic quest to find pancake drink. Sadly, it was unsuccessful.
  • That night was a concert in Hiroshima City! The band was Royz, a moderately known visual kei band. As usual, knowing the general vicinity of the live house was enough. The fans were a glaringly obvious beacon in their idiosyncratic outfits. Royz is a rather flashy band. Their costumes are very over the top, and they give out a lot of fanservice. They’re good at riling up the fans with things like skimpy outfits and kissing each other onstage – it’s a fun spectacle. Because of this, I always expect less from their music than they actually deliver. They’re quite talented. Unfortunately the crowd at this concert wasn’t very energetic, so it was hard for me to get totally into them. Still, I enjoyed the show, and I got to shake the guitarist’s hand. Hehe.
  • After this I went back to my favorite bar to visit S. He was working with a new guy. At one point me and the woman sitting next to me realized he looked like a Korean celebrity – we just weren’t sure who. We spent far too long discussing it. The woman in charge of the bar is something of a hero to me, as she only seems to hire attractive men. It’s turning the stereotype on its head, in a way. By the way, when I woke up the next morning, I recalled who the bartender looked like. It’s this member of B2ST.

Royz always takes pictures with the fans. If you look closely, you can find me! From http://ameblo.jp/royz–subaru/

Friday

  • Friday during the day was rather uneventful. M had plans for the weekend, so I had to move to a hotel. After this, we got okonomiyaki together. I was supposed to meet up with DJ again when M went to class, but one of his professors gave him an assignment. So instead I got a haircut.
  • DJ texted me saying he was done. I was expecting us to go to karaoke, but that’s not what happened. DJ was hungover and wanted ramen. He ended up sleeping on the counter at the ramen shop, so after I finished eating he went to a friend’s house to sleep. I ended up at the game center.
  • That night was a party with some of the students who studied abroad in Minnesota last year and a few of their friends. It was really fun, and the food was cheap! 280 yen a plate/drink for everything! The after party ended up at my hotel. We just talked – I got a lot of things off my chest. It felt nice.
  • Despite it being 1:30am when everyone left, I wasn’t tired. I went to my other favorite hangout, a darts bar. One of the old employees I vaguely remember talked to me all night. I convinced some random customers to eat the deadly takoyaki. Then I split some with the bartender. I left way too late, because the next day I slept until 2pm.

Saturday

  • When I woke up, I went with a friend to see the new Evangelion movie. M loaned me her bike so that I could get to the theater, but I haven’t ridden a bicycle in about two years. I also hadn’t eaten a proper breakfast. I was ready to collapse by the time I got there. The movie was good, but not as good as I was expecting. It felt like it was just there to build up for the last movie and didn’t focus very much on character development. However, Kaworu was in it, and he’s damn charming for a cartoon character.
  • I met with S for dinner. He didn’t have much time, since he has 5 papers to write, but we ended up chatting for quite a while. I also convinced him to take purikura with me after dinner. Ha…
  • Everyone else had plans that night! I didn’t want to sit around in the hotel, so I went to the darts bar again. Turns out I was lucky – the manager of the place, whom I’d been friends with, was having his birthday party there! I only intended to stay for a little bit, but it was fun to hang out with everyone. Then, when I was about to leave I ran into another student who had studied in Minnesota. Small world! We played a couple rounds of billiards together. The friend she came with was also very friendly and cute. After the game, the three of us watched TV in my room for a while.

Over the course of those few days, I got invited to several events next month, all around winter break… We’ll see what happens. I’ll probably go for at least a couple days.

People find it odd that I keep going back. Or they say I’m stuck in the past. But would it be strange if it was Minnesota? Probably not. Saijo is just like my second home!

残酷な…

•November 13, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This song comes from Evangelion, one of the most famous anime in Japan. I’d heard of it in America, and during my study abroad days I realized that it was everywhere I looked. You could buy all kinds of fan merchandise, the characters endorse all kinds of products, and every Japanese person has probably seen at least some of this show. They also all know the opening song, “残酷な天使のテーゼ”, which means “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis.”

During my time studying abroad, I decided to try watching it myself. I’d always been curious, even though giant robots aren’t my typical genre. One episode in and I couldn’t stop watching. It was so much more than giant robots. It really digs into the characters, so much so that it breaks them. Some people hate the show, and others love it. I fall into the love category. I guess I really like the way the writers dig quite forcefully into psychological places people aren’t comfortable with. Does that make me strange?

Anyway, back to the song. Every time I sing it at karaoke with people who haven’t karaoke’d with me before, they get excited, presumably because we have some kind of musical knowledge in common despite different upbringings. Most people like the song despite its cheesy 80′s pop feel. I know I’m quite fond of it.

Because of this, my ears perked up when I heard some students singing it during lunch. However, something was off. I quickly noticed they were singing their own alternative lyrics. What were they? “残酷なはげ…” “A Cruel Baldness.” The main part of the chorus, “少年よ神話になれ,” “Boy, become a legend!” was changed to, “少年よ坊主になれ!” “Boy, get a buzz-cut!”

Pure poetry.

By the way, the third movie in the remastered series is out in theaters next weekend. I’m very much looking forward to it. カヲル ♥

 
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