July 31, 2001
now I'm feeling: Buzzay!
now I'm listening to: Onitsuka Chihiro
Chihiro -- Edge
of the ages with the Takaokas
sushi with the Kawakamis
with the JETs & JTEs
after a feast
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
I haven't been able to catch my breath since I got back from
I leave here really soon, something I'm not looking forward
to at all, and really have to get to doing some final packing.