As my time in
Pancho Villa’s Fried Chicken Chimichongas (with extra cheese sauce): Mexican food is a little hard to track down in
Bacon: for the love of all that is holy; STOCK UP ON BACON! It doesn’t exist in
Blue Raspberry Slurpee from 7-11: The have 7-11 here; in fact, they’re on nearly every street. What they don’t have is Slurpee machines. They have ATMs and fresh made sushi – but no Slurpees. It feels like the soul of 7-11 is missing.
Cinnamon Rolls: Bakeries are everywhere, and they all have very good baked goods. The only trouble with their cinnamon rolls is that they don’t have frosting on them. I personally think that it’s the cream cheese icing that defines it as a cinnamon roll, so I refer to the frosting-less variety as “spice bread swirl”.
Fuddrucker’s Half Pound Burger with Fries: I really just want a burger, but Fudd’s has the best, so why request anything else? Besides, the one in my college town closed down, to
Prime Rib: I’m really just starting to miss eating chunks of beef as big as my head.
Cheese: The cheese here sucks. There is no other way to describe the deplorable cheese situation here. The most common cheese I see is *shiver* American Cheese slices, which I really don’t consider to be cheese at all. I just want to get my hands on a giant chunk of Jarlsberg Swiss and just start taking bites out of that sucker.
Mema’s Chicken Salad with Reduced Fat Triscuits: It’s delicious; plain and simple.
Peanut Butter: They charge $6.50 for about ¾ cup of Peanut Butter! And it’s not even that good! I call shenanigans on you, Japanese Peanut Butter! Shenanigans!
Strawberries (preferably of the Westmorland Berry Farm variety), cantaloupe, and cherries: They’re just….so expensive here. Most fruit here is; except for apples, but I’ve never been a huge fan of those. I’m seriously in an extreme state of fruit deprivation. One time I bought a strawberry cake because buying a cake with strawberries was about $15 cheaper than just buying the strawberries!
Maru-Chan Pork Ramen: I know what you’re thinking; “you’re in
The thing it that they all come with roughly 10 flavor packets to add (some are bases, oils, spices, dehydrated veggies, tofu, toothpaste, or whatever other variety of stuff they can put in a flavor packet), and if you just use one it’s just like having noodles in water – no taste. Somewhere inbetween packets 7 and 8 you end up adding something you don’t like (for me it’s usually this oil that smells and tastes like burnt peanuts) and then there is no going back. I just want my simple pork Maru-chan. It’s taste is unparalleled and it’s simplicity is appreciated (one bowl I was making had 9 steps illustrated on the lid – 9! That is far too many steps between me and eating “instant” soup)
Ben & Jerry’s: Give me Chubby Hubby, Phish Food, Americone Dreams, or Chunky Monkey, please. I guess eating ice cream at home never caught on here, because the only cartons of ice cream I’ve seen here have been vanilla flavored and cost $13. And personally, if I’m going to pay a crazy amount for ice cream, I want it to have a catchy name.
Microwave Popcorn: I found a *single* bag in a store *once*.
Papa’s Black Bean Soup: I miss spicy things, and Papa’s soup is one of my all time favorite dinners. I’ll even make some garlic bread to go with it!
ANYTHING WITH GARLIC: $4 a bulb. No kidding. I’ve been trying to figure out why our kitchen even has a garlic press with prices like that.
Mema’s Beans and Tortillas: It’s been a while.
Mema’s Enchiladas and Pineapple (because they always seem to go hand in hand in our house…): you know what? Screw the description. Let’s just have Mexican Night. You can cook and I’ll siesta. Deal?
Papa’s Ribs and Kraut: Despite their love of pickled things, the Japanese never embraced the sauerkraut.
Portabella Mushroom Sandwiches: Tons of mushrooms (expensive), peppers (expensive), and cheese (non-existant); it’s pretty much the accumulation of everything I’ve been craving but could never afford. Le sigh.
Double Stuff Oreos: There is no way I’m paying $7 for 12 Oreos because they’re individually wrapped. No way! I’ll somehow figure out a way to grow my own stupid Oreos before that happens.
IBC Cream Soda: Possibly the best soda on earth, aside from Squirt, but we all know the likelihood of tracking some of that down before I get home. Maybe when I get home we should go on a Squirt Safari across state borders.
Pizza Hut Mushroom Pan Pizza: I never realized how much I loved it until it was gone. Now it’s like a part of me is missing; a hot, doughy, greasy part of me, but a part of me none the less.
Pretzels and Hershey’s kisses: I shall combine them together to create chocolate pretzels! Muh-ha-ha!
Custard Style Vanilla Yogurt from Yoplait: The Japanese never really got past the part of yogurt making where they mix together dairy and bacteria. It’s all so sour that it makes me nauseous. I miss yogurt that I can actually eat without risk of vomiting it back up instantaneously.
Jelly Belly’s Very Cherry and Pomegranate Jelly Beans: My all time favorite flavors of congealed bean-shaped treats. I brought a bag with me but I got to the bottom of it in about three days. I tried to ration them – but they’re too delicious not to eat!
Mary’s Cakery and Candy Kitchen’s Praline Fudge: I ate a ton of this before I left, anticipating my craving for it while I was away. Recently, my need to feast upon fudge has awakened again.
I’m sure that there are other things I’m craving, but I feel that this will give everyone a decent heads up on what I will be demanding when I return home. I may update this list as things come to me.
- Current Location:In a chair
- Current Mood: hungry
- Current Music:"Real Me" by Ayumi Hamasaki
Chances are that if we’ve spoken at all during my time here then you’ve heard me complain about Japanese TV. For those who haven’t, this will all be new to you, then.
I just want to preface this entry by saying that I really don’t like Japanese TV. In fact, depending on the day and how tired I am of watching game shows, I even hate it. So this entry is nothing but 100% biased against Japanese television programs.
The top programming genres are as follow: Game shows, cooking shows with celebrity panels, diet product paid programming, and karaoke shows. That isn’t all there is on TV, but if you manage to find anything else it’s probably because you’ve cashed in your entire life’s worth of karma just so you can watch a bizarrely subtitled version of “Frankenstein” (they don’t subtitle any of the dialogue, just the occasional sign or book title).
And you would think that having cable would remedy this problem, right? Wrong. The Japanese TV will pretty much only receive 10 channels at once, and they will change throughout the day. In the morning we might get channel 6, but at night time when we press ‘6’ on the remote it takes us to channel 35, which we also don’t get. People will go out and buy really expensive HD Widescreen TVs just to watch a static-laced broadcast of the Hanshin Tiger’s baseball game.
After about 9 weeks of watching people get doused with water for missing a note on karaoke and seeing some celebrity who I really don’t care about proclaim a dish was ‘So delicious!’ for the 1,000,000th time, I was pretty sure that Japanese TV couldn’t get any more confusing for me. How wrong I was.
The Japanese love
The worst misuse of American music happened on this program I was watching the other day, though. This guy was at an archery range, and given that he had never used a bow before, was doing quite badly. The all of a sudden “Mr. Bojangles” starts playing softly in the background. A little strange, but okay. Sure. After the archery range the host of the show goes to hang out a fish market. The camera pans over these giant frozen tuna and then “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel starts to play.
Me: *looking at fish*
TV: "I'm gonna' try for an uptown girl; Shes been living in her white bread world-"
Me: WHAT? Are they really playing "Uptown Girl" while showing giant piles of frozen, headless fish? Oh, and guts.
Erin: Looks like.
TV: "As long as anyone with hot blood can; and now shes looking for a downtown man-"
Me: I...don't even know what to say to this.
I still haven't figured out what to say to that.
- Current Location:Under the Sun, Osaka
- Current Mood: confused
- Current Music:"Burning Love" by Elvis
Okay, here’s the deal. I’ve been neglecting updating my blog for a couple of reasons. No, that’s a lie. One reason: I really don’t want to write about
So, in order to get back up to date with the happenings of life here, I’ve decided to only write about some of the highlights of my
This is officially the first place that we went in
So, we manage to find our way into the
The entire grounds could be described in one word: dead. The grass was dead, the plants were dead, even the flower and vegetable gardens were dead. It was actually quite a depressing place to visit. We entertained ourselves by visiting the old historical buildings, but it was hard to mask our disappointment about the gardens being so…depressing.
We managed to find one sakura (cherry blossom) tree in bloom and all the visitors to the gardens swarmed it like it was the last Tickly Me Elmo at Toys ‘R Us on Christmas Eve. Everyone gathered around and took dozens of this solitary tree on the outskirts of the garden. It was pretty funny that everyone got so excited over seeing a pink tree, but it was the only patch of color in the entire garden, so I can’t really blame anyone for their enthusiasm.
By the end of the week Erin and I had visited Harajuku twice. It was definitely one of our favorite places to browse around. It has so many different clothing and shoe shops that it was impossible to see it all in one day (two wasn’t enough either, but we were only in
Our first time in Harajuku, the fashion capitol of
As the day grew hotter so did people’s tempers. One member of the group was upset at another because they thought that our temporary leader was taking us to the wrong place to see the famous Harajuku cosplayers (people dressed up in costumes). We let the upset member take the reigns for a while and she led us down and around random streets in the prefecture. Erin and I were eyeing a kimono shop hungrily, since purchasing the traditional wear was one of our goals for
We were a little disappointed that they decided to follow us, but they grew bored in the kimono store quickly and left to do other things. Erin and I were thrilled by this and had a great time wandering around by ourselves the rest of the day, happy that our quartet had been reduced to a duet (our quintet member took off quite early in the day, leaving us floundering in the waters of Harajuku with our other members clinging to us like their lives depended on it. Thanks for that, buddy).
I know that the last section makes me seem kind of mean, at least when I was talking about my other group members. I don’t mean to sound so short about it, but I was really irritated with them that day. One of the worst parts happened in the kimono shop when Erin and I were looking around. We were trying on furisode (long sleeved kimono for unmarried women) and yukata (light summer kimono), and the entire time the other two members of the group were circling in the background making unnecessary comments, mostly about the cost of the kimonos.
We asked one of the girls if they were going to try any on (it’s
I tried on this one red furisode and it was *gorgeous*. The color went perfectly with my skin tone, the pattern wasn’t too outrageous, and the entire thing was just balanced perfectly. I had it on and Erin and I were ‘ooh’ing and ‘ahh’ing over the robe, and one member looks at the price tag and scoffs “You aren’t going to buy it are you? It’s way to expensive,” while the other girl nodded her consent. They were seriously bringing down our good time with their negativity. They left shortly after and we were glad that they took their bad attitudes with them. We later found out that they went to Ginza (the most expensive and upscale shopping district in
I ended up buying a lovely purple kimono and gold obi (sash) from the coming of age set (Japanese girls and boys “come of age” when they turn 20. It’s a pretty big deal for them and their friends. They all dress up in traditional garb and go to temples to pray and then they all go out drinking). For $200 I got my kimono, my under robe, robe ties, pads, obi, obi stiffener, tabi (socks), zori (shoes), and an instructional book about how to put it on. It was an amazing deal and I was lucky to have found it.
Later that night, I was relaying the story about the kimono shop to Mema, and she said that she wished that I would have bought the red one. She said I should return the set and buy the other one the next day. Who was I to argue? Erin and I returned to the store the next day, and after a quick bout of pricing individual items we decided that I would spend more money buying all the accessories individually than I did buying the set, which included another kimono and obi. I bought the red furisode and a long, ceremonial gold obi with a special obi scarf and rope.
I’m thrilled by my kimono and am looking forward to studying the art of wearing kimono when I get back home. Right now I have them both wrapped up neatly in their original fold and wrapping that the store put them in; neat and ready to travel.
During my high school years I traveled down to
Because of our shared love of the “Pirates of the
It was quite easy to see the difference in quality between the old pirate robots and the new ones they added in because of the movies, but they managed to blend them into one ride nicely. I’m glad that they didn’t redo the entire ride and ruin its classic appeal like they did to my precious Tiki Room. To this day I’m upset that they put in comic relief birds from Disney movies and am quite excited that they turning it into a Lilo and Stitch attraction. At least that way I won’t have to listen to an animatronic Eiago anymore. Gilbert Gottfried’s voice makes me die a little everytime I hear it.
We also went on Star Tours (because I love that ride and forced Erin to go with me), the Teacups, It’s a Small World (because I had neglected to the last time I was in the park), the
There were many different snack carts at the park where you could get a decently priced snack filling and sugary enough to satisfy your child until an actual meal time rolled around. Our favorite carts were the popcorn carts. Tokyo Disney sold three types of popcorn: butter, chocolate, and curry. You could tell how popular each flavor was by how long the line to acquire it was. The buttered popcorn cart was always empty. Always. The entire day I didn’t see a single person purchase a single kernel of regular popcorn. The curry popcorn was a different story entirely. The line for curry popcorn would wrap around corners and start so far away that you had to squint to see the end of the line.
Erin and I, being the curious and adventurous eaters that we are, decided that we had to try the curry popcorn. After over half an hour of waiting, we had our prize in hand, and let me tell you that it was delicious. Seriously, the best popcorn I ever had. As soon as I got to a computer with internet service I was looking up directions and recipes for replicating the treat at my house. I told my boyfriend this and he was less than thrilled by the prospect that he would have to eat curry flavored popcorn. I kind of hope he hates it so I can eat it all myself.
The ride itself was fun, but I think we had more fun waiting in line for Dumbo than we did actually riding it. There was this little boy in line behind me with his mother that provided me with some excellent entertainment. The boy was around two or three, and during one of the rare periods in which the line actually moved, he accidentally ran into the back of my legs. I turned around to make sure he was okay, and when he realized how tall I was he got this stunned look on his face and staggered behind his mom. I was used to this reaction and wasn’t too phased by it.
About ten minutes later I felt another impact on the back of my legs, more forceful this time, so I turn around again to see what was the matter. This little kid was giving me the deepest death glare I’d ever seen on a little kid’s face – he was seriously trying to take me down! I think he was trying to protect his mother from this monstrously tall creature in front of him in line. After this happened I moved my purse so that the bag hung in front of me.
Time passed in the Dumbo line slowly. We occasionally got to move and I pointedly ignored the tiny punches that were delivered to the back to my calves. We happened to catch a glimpse of a passing mini-parade and decided to watch with the rest of our line brethren. The parade had Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. All of these characters were given passing notice and the occasional camera flash by the Japanese in the park. Then
As soon as they spot
At one point in the line
I never saw the Electrical Parade before, and I’m really disappointed I hadn’t. I always forget just how magical lights can be until you see them at their best. After the parade Erin grabbed onto my purse strap and I used my Gaijin Smash (a super power given to any foreigner who visits
We were worried about having to suffer through the wait that buying tickets and waiting for the train would cause, but right as we were lamenting such, fireworks exploded over the park and the hundreds of people leaving the park with us all froze and began snapping pictures of the sky on their cell phones. Not ones to pass up such a golden opportunity, we took off full sprint towards the train station and bought our tickets (no wait this time) and were close to first in line for the trains departing from the park.
By the time we got back to the hostel we were tired, our feet were sore (we had been on our feet for 13 hours straight at this point), and we were starving; but Tokyo Disney remains as being one of the best times I had not only in Tokyo, but in Japan. I think it’s because I got to spend the entire day having fun with my best friend without having to worry about homework or finances and just got to concentrate on goofing around and laughing for the sake of laughing.
Me and my friend Steven (who I refer to by the name he had in Japanese class: Goro) both applied for different study in
Goro got a little lost on his way there, so Erin and I treated ourselves to some authentic Japanese pizza to pass the time. I got potato and mayonnaise and
We decided to meet up in Akihabara, the electronics district, because Erin and I had yet to go and he said that he wanted to visit again. We poked around in shops, played Pachinko (which
Different waitresses would stop by and teach us cute hand motions and songs to ensure that we remained genki (happy and energetic) while waiting for our food. After it was all over with, we received point cards that the waitress personalized herself. Mine reads: Master Mary, Level 1: My Master. Since you’re not allowed to take pictures in the cafes, we stopped by the gift shop and bought trinkets to prove to people that we actually went to one.
We ended our day with Starbucks coffee (it was the only coffee place still open) and a ride on the ferris wheel called “The Big O” (named such because it doesn’t have any of the center spokes of the traditional ferris wheel and looks like a giant ‘O’). It actually had a rollercoaster track running through the middle of it, but that was closed due to the late hour and the rain. Regardless, we enjoyed our ferris wheel ride and prepared for our departure back to
It’s fast. REAL fast.
Even the abridged version of
- Current Location:Funkytown
- Current Mood: relieved that Tokyo is done!
- Current Music:"Rehab" by Amy Winehouse
Considering that my spring break was going on three weeks in the past, I figured it was about time to stop procrastinating and actually write about some of the things I did there. I’m going to break it up into manageable segments (probably by day) so I don’t go crazy writing it all in one sitting and you all won’t go cross-eyed from reading a gigantic block of text.
There was a little bit of drama from the other girl we were going to go to
That’s right – she left
After her departure we were left with our last minute roomies who, with the absence of a fifth person, declared the room too expensive and vacated the room the next day. But I’ll talk more about that later.
Erin, our guy friend, and myself took the Shinkansen to
There was a minor scare during check in though when the desk manager asked for my passport. I went a little pale because as soon as I was able I took it out of my purse to lower the risk of it getting lost and stolen. I told him I didn’t have my passport and asked if my alien registration card would work instead. He said that my alien card was even better and that he was happy I was staying in
We dropped off our bags and went out to get dinner. By accident/fate we ran into the other members of our group who had arrived the night before since they opted to skip their Friday classes. The rest of us, realizing that our midterms started right after we got back, went to class and tried to suck every last bit of knowledge we could out of class, because goodness knows we wouldn’t be studying in Tokyo.
The rest of day one was spent eating Chinese food (Erin and I got this huge smorgasbord of food that could have easily fed a couple other people with us, but we were hungry and unwilling to share) and talking about our plans for the next day. Since Sunday would be one of our member’s last day (since she needed to go be economical or something), she wanted to go to the fish market. I didn’t think it was open on Sundays because of the old saying “never eat Sushi on a Monday,” meaning that all the fish was day-old, but it was added to the ‘to do list’ along with visiting the imperial palace and Harajuku. We messed around the city for a little bit before wandering back and going to bed while anxiously anticipating our first full day of exploring in
- Current Location:Next to the window
- Current Mood: blank
- Current Music:"You Can't Stop the Beat" from "Hairspray"
As an American going abroad I knew that I would encounter certain stereotypes while I was in
My first meeting with my Japanese speaking partner, Saki, was…awkward at first. We exchanged our names and started to ask questions about each other’s lives. We eventually got on the topic of travel and where we had been. Or so I thought. I thought Saki had asked me “How many gone?,” in regards to places I had visited. So I start talking about all the different places I had been before I realize that she wasn’t asking me about my travel experience. She was asking about “How many gun” I owned.
Suddenly, all of the Japanese people at my table had their eyes on me, like I was about to reveal some great secret as to why, for the love of all that is holy, boy bands are still so outrageously popular in Japan. I told them I didn’t own any and had actually never even seen a real gun before, and while they nodded their heads in understanding, they didn’t seem convinced that I was telling the truth and sort of looked like they expected me to whip out a semi-automatic and start shooting Russian terrorists ala Bruce Willis.
And while this incident was a little odd, I sort of wrote it off as a freak thing that just popped up into our conversation one day. But it turned out that it wasn’t an isolated incident – it keeps happening on a very regular basis.
Erin’s speaking partner, Ken, is going to a college in
From what I’ve gathered from talking with various Japanese students, a few things have become apparent:
1) Americans are given guns at birth. So if they tell you that they don’t have one, they’re lying (probably because they intend to shoot you)
2) The only reason women carry purses is to carry larger guns.
3) Not only do all Americans own guns, all of them own lots of guns and take them everywhere; school plays, funerals, and nursing homes especially.
So if you don’t own a gun, I recommend that you go out and buy at least fifty because, apparently, that’s the American way.
- Current Location:Procrastination Station. All aboard!
- Current Mood: shocked
- Current Music:"Walk Like an Egyptian" as sung by The Puppini Sisters
One day Erin and I were walking back from Makino and were passed by four boys on a bike (yes, I know I used the singular tense there. Somehow four Japanese boys managed to cram themselves comfortably onto a solitary bike). They cruised past us without giving us much notice, but quickly realized they had passed by two foreign girls and immediately all four of the heads twisted around and they all called out “Hello!” to us. We of course said “Hello” back – they pretty much earned it for performing their amazing bicycle acrobatics.
Little girls tend to have the best reactions, though. They’ll either totally freak out about my size and run/cry to their mothers, or stare at me in wonder like I’m some sort of near-extinct magical creature that will spirit them away to Narnia.
I was shopping in the supermarket today and was busy looking at the tempura section when I noticed a little blob of pink dashing through the isle. I turned around and saw a little girl rushing around – darting around people’s legs and generally just having a good time.
Somehow she noticed that I was looking at her and she paused and looked up at me (this took a while, because her eyes went to where she thought mine would be, which was about mid-torso, so her eyes just kept going up and up…). When she finally got to where my eyes were, her head was nearly horizontal to the ground. I watched her little eyes go wide in terror and she ran full tilt to the safety of her mother and spent the rest of the shopping trip looking at me from behind her mother’s legs.
I know I shouldn’t have found it so funny, but that little girl’s abject horror at my size was pretty darn hilarious. It reminded me of the scene from the Road Runner Cartoons where Wile E. Coyote was standing wide-eyed on the ground right under the falling boulder. Hilarious!
- Current Location:Here and There, Osaka
- Current Mood: amused
- Current Music:"Sunshine and Summertime" Faith Hill
But yesterday was different and that was nice. We woke up when we wanted, had a nice leisurely breakfast without worrying about having to rush to meet any one at (insert location) station. I even got to test my train station skills and successfully bought my tickets and got on the correct train.
As it turns out this Ferris Wheel was built on the seventh floor of this indoor shopping mall monster. This mall was so big that they hung a giant fiberglass Mama Whale with her calf from the ceiling and were able to fit no less than a bajillion stores in this place. As I said: huge. So
It took a long time to get to the
Anyway, we had a rather long detour on the way to the building, but it was worth is once we got there. The building itself is impressive – two towers connected by a main circular deck on top called “The Floating Garden Observatory”. Getting to the top of the building was a lot of fun. You have to take an elevator that stops on the 35th floor (it only had three buttons – 1, 3, and 35) and from there you took an escalator up to the 38th. The cool thing was that both the elevator and escalator were see-through, so you got to watch the scenery as you climbed higher and higher above the cityscape. We took the final set of stairs onto the roof and immediately we lost the ability to speak. You could see for absolute *miles* around every side of the building. It was amazing. We found the Ferris Wheel we had been on before that had seemed so big and tall and laughed because from the top of the
One of the other things I wanted to do in Umeda was go and see a movie, but we couldn’t decide on which one to see. I wanted to go see the new Deathnote Movie “L: Change the World”, but apparently “Sweeny Todd” was still in theaters and
Thanks to warnings from my friend Ashleigh (thank you so, so much), I knew that the Japanese have assigned movie seats, so if you want to sit with your friend you need to buy your tickets all at once. So I went to the window and set about to order two tickets, only to have the woman at the counter bombard me with questions I didn’t understand. Thankfully, there was a chart in the window she pointed to that helped me understand the situation. Apparently buying movie tickets is an awful lot like buying tickets for a play. You get to choose where in the theater you sit – this includes section, row, seat numbers, and if you prefer a middle or aisle seat. After a couple of minutes of nodding my head and saying “that’s fine”, hoping the woman would understand my bad Japanese and realize that I really just wanted two tickets and didn’t give a fig about where they were. Thankfully she did, and we got tickets to the show we wanted.
We both showed up to the movie half an hour early in our usual American fashion, but we realized very soon that almost no one did that. Then we realized why: having assigned seats in a movie theater guarantees you a good seat. There was really no need to show up early to grab a good seat. Almost immediately we went from talking about how complicated their movie ticket system was to praising it. To waste time before the movie we bought stuff from some capsule machines (those little toy vending machines they have in grocery stores in the
So we’re ushered into the theater and we find our seats and start talking for a bit before the movie.
I also want to ask everyone who has ever used a cell phone in a movie theater in
- Current Location:Compter Lab - Seminar House 1
- Current Mood: awake
- Current Music:"Luck Star" opening song. I played Taiko Drums agian and now it's stuck there...
- Current Mood: contemplative
- Current Music:"Sign, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder
And a pictures of me climbing through “Buddha’s Nostril” is here: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v472/P
- Current Location:In my room!
- Current Mood: accomplished
- Current Music:"Skid Row" from "Little Shop of Horrors"
Anyway, we arrive at the Aquarium with a light dusting of snow on the ground, with Yasahiro repeating how strange the weather was. We gave the admission people our discount tickets that Yasahiro helped us buy at a local convenience store (that machine had about a million buttons, each with a kanji none of us had ever seen before) and we were in! We had an awesome time looking around the aquarium - especially at the main attraction: the Whaleshark! It was so cool! And even though my camera was acting up when I tried to take pictures of other marine life, I just kept snapping awesome picture after awesome picture of that Whaleshark. After cruising throught the aquarium (and stopping for a long while in the gift shop...) we walked outside to find around an inch and a half of snow and slush on the ground. We all rolled up our pants and soldiered on, but even walking as carefully as we were, it was only a matter of time before water seeped into our shoes and up our pants' legs. We didn't care though, because we were still in the midst of our "snow is so magical!" mentality.
On the way back to the train station Yasahiro asked if we would like to see Osaka Castle. He told us the train stop was on the way home, but we'd have to walk an additional twenty minutes to get to the castle. Adrianna was especially excited to see it, so Erin and I shrugged our shoulders and followed Yasahiro to our next stop. Since seats on the trains in Japan tend to have heaters in them, we realized very quickly upon exiting the train just how wet we were from the falling snow and slush. It wasn't until we reached our first staircase that things began to get a little scary. None of the sidewalks or stairs had been salted, so everystep you took you risked putting your weight onto a big clump of compacted snow (read: crazy-dangerous ice). This wouldn't have been so bad, but I quickly discovered that the boots that had been keeping my feet nice and warm provided limited traction in this weather. Hmm. So I slide carefully along the sidewalk, making my way towards the castle.
Once we get there we encounter another obstical: ramps. The castle was built on a veeeerrry high hill as a percaution against invading forces, and in an effort to seem nice to visitors, they opted for having a series of steep ramps leading to the castle instead of stairs (and since, according to Yasahiro, it never snows in Hirakata, this was a pretty considerate thing to do with no negative consequences involved). Long story short; Erin pretty much pulled me up the ramps while I slipped and skidded all over the place. Eventually we got to the top of the castle, and I have to tell you that it was worth all the trouble. The entire castle and grounds were covered in a blanket of snow, and the grey sky behind the castle made the gold embelishments on the castle practically glow. It was jaw-droppingly beauitful and we were very lucky to have been able to see it like that.
Afterwards we stopped at Subway and ordered some very interesting food. I got chicken and cheese melt on onion and pepper bread with basil mayonaise, and Erin bought an avacado with shrimp sub. I was so happy to have warm food in my belly that I didn't even care that it came with a $10 price tag. And in case you're wondering: yes, it was the best Subway sandwich I have ever had and I don't think I'll ever be happy eating at American Subways ever again.
We arrived home at around 6:30 at night (having left at 9:00 that morning). I was sopping wet, freezing cold, my nose was running, and I had developed a slight fever from romping in the slush for so long, but despite all that, I still had that warm "it's been a good day" feeling in me. I pretty much fell into a dead sleep that night and refused to wake up in the morning, despite how ever many times my alarm clock tried. Even though my sleep schedule is all out of whack and I'm still a little sore, I think that Saturday was one of the best days I've had in Japan yet.
Despite all the snow we had.
Even though it never snows here.
Hirakata Castle in the snow: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v472/P
For more pictures please visit my Photobucket page! : http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v472/P
- Current Location:watashi no heya
- Current Mood: rejuvenated
- Current Music:Sherly Crow "Love is Free"