Thursday, October 25, 2007

last weekend was the Northern Youth Group festival. やんばる青年祭り and even though the weather wasn't the greatest, i think it was a success. This is the third time the festival has been held and the first time it was held in my village of Ogimi. I went to the festival in its first and second year and looked somewhat jealously at the young men and women who walked around wearing "staff" shirts and were busy with the organization of the fest. This year, I got to wear the shirt and look important in it! I went to help set up on friday night, but there didn't seem to be much work, so most of us just hung around and chatted and any time a job came up we'd rush to do it. At the evening's end we had food and drinks. Saturday, before the festival, we started set up at around 1pm and once again not much work was actually needed from a large group of people but we all tried to look as though we were just moments away from doing something helpful. I guess that's just how it works for most things. There are a few people who know exactly what needs to be done and do it and other that stand around until they are told what needs to be done. That was me. Standing around. But feeling pretty good about it nonetheless. My job for the fest was to help make popcorn for sale at a booth, but there was a lot of time to just walk around and watch the festival. During the day there was a hip hop group, elementary school kids danced, a jazz band performed and after 6pm it was all eisa groups from the northern villages and towns. Our eisa group performed last and that was probably my last time performing eisa. It was good times, and I'm really glad i joined the group to participate in these events.

The evening was cold, though. The wind blew from the sea and kept tossing sand in every direction. But people stuck around and a large enough crowd was there through the end. When most of the take down was finished around 11pm, the guys and some girls sat around in a large circle in the middle of the field and made speeches, ate and drank. Sunday was the rest of the clean-up which was done by mostly our group and when finished, we had barbeque and played volleyball. It was a gorgeous day, the morning of which i spent driving around new roads. I was trying to find a way from Kijoka to Higashi and also was hoping to catch a glimpse of the illusive kuina, the endangered flightless bird that lives exclusively in the jungles of northern Okinawa. I did find a way to Higashi but no kuina was sighted.

The week went well. The schedule has been through all sorts of permutations this week. Today for example this was the schedule (火曜日these kanji means Tueday and 木曜日these kanji means Thursday so 火2means Tuesday's regular second period)
crazy, really. this whole week has been like that. some of it for teacher's being absent but mostly because we were picking shiquawasa and it had to be done this week because the company paying the school for it was only going to pay full price until the end of this week. The kids (and teachers helped) picked over a ton of shiquawasa between Friday and Tuesday. Pretty cool.

Today, during lunch time a package arrived for me at the school. I thought it was the next book club book from Amazon so was surprised to see a large box. In it, to my utter amazement and amusement, I found an instant ramen set and then some! I completely forgot that about two months ago I entered my name and address into a ramen set giveaway advertised on some JET website. Somehow, I actually won it! I think they were drawing 10 names a month or something, and so I lucked out, which is amazing 'cause I never win anything.
The set is awesome. It has portable chopsticks, a cup and small burner to heat up water, a cooler sack, some cups of instant ramen and even three water bottles. There's also a wet paper towel, and a lighter to light the burner.
Here are the pics. Sorry they're tiny, I had to use my cell phone camera 'cause my digital camera is out of commission. Actually a bit irritating that. Only bought it a few months ago and the shutter stopped working last week. But since it's semi-new the warranty still covers it and the fixing should be free. So much for getting a Cannon. I've had my Minolta for over two years and have dropped countless times and it still works, but this new Cannon has already crapped out on me. :(

anyways, here are the pics. and i'm off to watch the first episode of the new season of "Heroes"! Yipee!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The most exciting thing happened tonight! We had an earthquake! An actual honest to goodness, the building was shaking for more than ten seconds and i jumped to stand in the doorway, earthquake!! I've felt a couple here before and slept through a couple I'm told, but this one was something else. It started shaking and it didn't stop, it got stronger and the walls were moving in front of my eyes and I even waited a few seconds before i jumped up and went for the doorway, laughing all the way. And thanx to a friend on the island, I have a link to prove it. A couple of the dots seem to be hovering right over my village, so no wonder it was strong enough to make the dogs go mad barking for minutes after it stopped.
Here's the link. Fun times!

Tokyo was also fun times, but to keep the blog short, I'll try to say it all through photos. They will be few in number, as I have a few of them up with comments on Facebook and all of them will be up on Fotki site with comments by the weekend. I'm assuming there are only a couple of you out there eager to see the whole bunch (hi, mom!) so hope couple of days wait won't be a problem.

Here are some of my favorites from the trip.
Btw, if you'll be in Tokyo, I highly recommend you stay the Oak Hotel in Asakusa. They have singles, doubles and small dorm rooms for very reasonable prices. The staff are helpful and nice and they internet, small kitchen, common room, and tons of info. Plus a convenient location.

These tablets are hung up at temples and their writers usually ask for travel protection or safety of their loved ones.
The walk up to the Sensou temple in Asakusa. One of the most visited, if not the most visited temple in Tokyo, even at night.
The back of the gate with the famous, giant, lantern
Peek inside the Asakusa shrine. A shinto shrine quietly hidden behind the overwhelming Sensou-ji
What do you think? 20kg?
A cigarette break next to shoe polishers. All over Tokyo, I saw special corners set up for smokers with ash trays with messages to keep Tokyo clean.
A hat store in the fancy Isetan department store. With an even fancier clientèle.
"Piss Alley" in Shinjuku
Entering the teenage crazy zone, Harajuku
Style blending. And yes, that is one building and not a camera trick of superimposition. I like this one.
And of course, what we all came here to see, the Harajuku kids. I only caught a few of them as i came to Harajuku too early. These two were just getting set up but kept getting interrupted by the camera clicking tourists. After snapping that photo I had to rush directly to the airport. Glad i caught them.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

it's my last night in Tokyo and with all that's been going on here and the pics i'll be posting later from the trip, i don't think i'll have time to tell you all about my last weekend sooooo
i propose you check out Kevin's blog and read his post from Okinawa. I have been coded as the "friend" in the post. I think you can figure it out.
Things are good. I do like Tokyo, but i am ready to get back to the casual pace of life in Okinawa. It's too hectic here. Too fashion driven, too many stores and too many pretty people. They make me concerned about my appearance. I don't like that.
I was so worried about my slightly dirty flip flops that i went out and bought a new pair of shoes. Ha ha. i love them though. I'll post a pic of them.. They're tres kawaii. if i do say so myself.
and worth every penny.

time for last night sleep in Tokyo


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

oh no! the blogger is in japanese and the space bar keeps getting stuck! hmm.. not sure how long i'll be able to type in these conditions. ha ha

had in mind to sit down and type about last weekend, but can't. way too tired. i think i've had a combined 10 hours of sleep in the last three night so brain is on very rapid shutdown. hoping to write down today's events, sign some postcards and crash early.

am in Tokyo, btw. staying at a nice hotel in asakusa area, not far from Ueno station, if you're familiar. Got here early this morning. Left Okinawa on what was promising to be a gorgeous sunny day and stepped out into a chilly drizzle in Tokyo. but did get a single room for one night at the hotel. not sure why exactly, figured they saw how tired i looked and decided that instead of 4 nights in a small dorm i should only spend three there and one night resting fully on my own. yipee!
i walked around quite a bit today. walked into a soba shop for late lunch and was seated with a nice elderly salaryman. apparently at these small places it's customary to put solitary costomers together to accommodate all. makes sense. most of them looked like local workers in for a quick bite. so i got to try out my japanese on an unsuspecting tokyoite (sp?) and we had apleasant chat. he claims to be a Packers fan but says he's dissapointed with this year's performance. since i haven't watchef ootball in over two years, i just nodded and said that favre must be getting tired.
sorry for all the types. the comp is acting very strangely. there's alag of 5 seconds between me typing and the words showing up on the screen which makes it hard to go back and correct typos. so now you can see how many i actually make while i type and you'll be glad to know that i try really hard to clean up my posts before exposing you to them. but not this one 'cause i'm lacking for patience on this comp already and will finish here.

hopefully am genki enough tomorrow to sit down and write up about last weekend 'cause it really deserves an entry. quite something.

wherever you are, hope you're having a lovely day