July 31, 2001


Right now I'm feeling: Buzzay!

Right now I'm listening to: Onitsuka Chihiro

Onitsuka Chihiro -- Edge  

Feast of the ages with the Takaokas
Rolling sushi with the Kawakamis
Mr. Kawakami's artwork
The Kawakamis
The Washiyamas
Karaoke with the JETs & JTEs
O-chan after a feast


I am so, so, soooo busy!! I'm not usually one of those people who carries around a day planner. These people are usually obessive organizers, or truly busy people where almost every waking hour is spent doing something or going out with someone. That's not to say that I sit around all day staring at the walls, either; I can keep myself pretty busy. But these days almost all my time is completely occupied and I don't have any veg-time. I need veg-time. I need veg-time.

So anyway, all of my friends and acquaintances have been scheduling themselves into my calendar for last dinners, bon voyage parties and final karaoke outings. Which would be fine.. better than fine, except that I have so much to do around my apartment. There is still so much cleaning and packing to do. And I mean a lot. It makes me sad to think what I have put my apartment through for the past three years. I know I have to clean up, but it is the least important thing right now. Let me see if I can summarize the stuff that's been going on:

Had a terrific day with the Takaokas. I love the Takaokas. They own a large bamboo farm outside of town and are totally loaded from it. They sent their only girl to boarding school in the States when she was 15 so that she could get some experience traveling and come back with fluent English. She used to call them up every night, crying, begging to come back home. Now she wants to live in the US.

Despite being independently wealthy, they love teaching. Mrs. Takaoka's father is very high up in the board of Education. Mr. and Mrs. Takaoka are both English teachers in Wakayama City.

So anyway, they invited me over for a "feast of the ages" BBQ. Today they had a special guest. There was an American kid, about 17 years old who is a friend of a friend's family or something like that. This was his first time anywhere and they hoped that having Anna visiting (their daughter) would make him more comfortable, but he was like a fish out of water and everyone could tell. He was nervous and quiet and it made everyone else nervous and quiet.

With all the subtlety and guile of an elephant in a china shop, I tried to get everyone laughing and talking, and after a while, we were having a great time. I had a great time talking with Anna! She is so funny and talkative and engaging. I wish she were four years older. Haha! There was so much food there! They made so much! Mr. Takaoka had a bit too much to drink and started saying weird things like, "If you have a problem, look at the moon." Like, what the heck does that mean? And then after that, every now and then he would just say when there was a lull in the conversation, "look at the moon." He was a riot.

In the little town they lived by, they were having this festival and there were the usual stalls of food and drinks outside the shrine. Inside the shrine, people were ringing a bell and tugging a rope for blessings. It was too dark for photos, but we had a terrific time. I'm going to miss them a lot.

Mr. Kawakami from Seiwa JHS was badgering me for weeks to have a dinner with his family. His daughter is a travel agent and speaks almost perfect English. We hand-rolled sushi, ate fish and some other stuff. He showed off his origami and gave me a couple nice pieces of it. He loves his origami.

The Washiyamas had me over for a farewell dinner, too. Junko has been so nice and so helpful over the past three years. She often gave me a ride to Isao JHS, which was on top of a freaking mountain and ordinarily takes an hour and a half for me to get there. She made a whole slew of Western foods for me.. fried and baked chicken, salads, breads, tons of stuff. Their son, Taka, really, really likes me and he's grown up quite a bit since I've been living here. They showered me with gifts. I felt so guilty because I didn't really have anything for them.

One of the really cool things they gave me was a happi coat which is what everyone wears during Shiro Matsuri. they asked me if already had one and I kind of fibbed and said I didn't, because it seemed like it was a huge deal for them to give me the coat (which was probably very expensive!). I do have one, but it got ripped and is coming apart, so I'm sooo glad I have a new one. I'll probably hang it on my wall when I get back.

Seriously, I haven't been able to catch my breath since I got back from Danjiri Matsuri. I leave here really soon, something I'm not looking forward to at all, and really have to get to doing some final packing.

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