Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A month of goodness

I am a terrible, terrible person. Not only have I not updated my blog in forever, but I have also not been to karate class since my last blog post! I tried going last night actually, but it seems class was canceled. The lights were out, and no one showed up for the 20 minutes that I waited there, besides a parent and his two kids who were also waiting. I hope it wasn't just that class started late. :-/

Okay, so, many, many things happened over this past month! My friend Oreo came to visit (I don't actually call him that; though it's possible that I called him that 10 years ago). Anyway, he is an old friend whom I hadn't seen since last summer (or earlier?) I think. We traveled quite a bit of places in Miyagi.

I met up with him on a Thursday. I was in Sendai that day for a work-related conference. Unfortunately, the last bus leaves pretty early, so we decided to save our Sendai festivities for later. On the following day, we went skiing! It was my first time, but Oreo is an expert, so he was showing me the ropes. For those who know anything about skiing: I spent most of my time in pizza. It was quite fun, but since I'm not any good, I was just stuck practicing the basics. I really need to learn how to properly stop (the turn-sideways version, not the falling over version).

Then on Saturday, we drove over to the local onsen and took a dip. There, we were talking with a couple naked old guys. Apparently, the hot spring that the water comes from is one kilometer down! Pretty awesome. After the onsen, I took us to a local steakhouse. They have amazing beef curry there, so we ordered that. Afterward, we hit up Sendai to check out their night life. Unfortunately, because of the season (read: effing cold), it was pretty dead. But we still walked around a bit and found a quaint little restaurant/bar place. The hosts were amusingly nice to us. We kept asking for their recommendations so they gladly said, "Leave it to us!" Though there was a point when they were trying to figure out what my background was. I overheard them say "Chinese [person]." But then they also said something like, "his Japanese is good!" Haha

On Sunday, I drove us up to Naruko Onsen, where we once again took a dip in the natural hot springs (fresh smell of sulfur and other minerals, yay!) and also saw some of the beautiful scenery. The mountains in that area had gotten hit with a lot of snow, so that in itself was pretty nice to see. Pretty slippery though. We also bought a bunch of small little omiyage for people. I got a set of chop sticks made out of cherry blossom wood!

On Monday, we went to Matsushima. But instead of walking along the long red bridge to one of the islands, we hopped on a boat and got a chance to see a bunch of the islands! It was a really fun ride. Of course I played, "I'm on a Boat!" by The Lonely Island. There were seagulls following the ship, and it was really amusing seeing them dive into the water as people threw shrimp chips/fries at them. I got some sweet video of that. Ah, and before we boarded the ship, we also visited some temple grounds and also ate some fresh Matsushima sushi! We had oysters, fatty tuna (YUM), and Sendai beef! Yes, that's right, BEEF SUSHI. It was surprisingly delicious.

The following day, I took Oreo to work with me, at the Elementary School, where he sat in on class and even answered a few questions. At night, we went out to karaoke with some friends, which was incredibly fun, but I wasn't able to hold my liquor very well. Hah, I'm so weak! On Wednesday, I took him to the Jr High in the morning, and he was quite a hit! He did a great job interacting with the students and forcing them to speak English to him without them being able to fall back on Japanese (like they do with me, because I am able to understand most of what they say). In the afternoon, he came with me to the other elementary school and even helped me teach class! It was really fun. On Thursday night, we went to a friend's house where she hosted a hot pot party. The people who came were all either English speakers or people who wanted to learn/improve their English, so it was good for Oreo to be there.


Okay so the big car story takes place on that same Thursday. Oreo had intended to drive to the same mountain we went to in order to go skiing again. The route is very simple, so he knew how to get there, and I had let him practice in my car a few times so he was used to driving in Japan. Well, he drove to the mountain, and as he approached the top, the engine was dying, so he pulled into the first ski lodge (he wanted to go to the second one). When he finally parked, the engine had died.

He gave me a call and told me that there were three employees trying to help him with the car, but none of them could speak English and he can't speak Japanese so they were using hand drawn pictures to communicate. Eventually, after some discussion with me, my coworkers and those employees, Oreo decided to drive back to town. The car was able to start, but it just sounded weak, he said. Luckily, he made it back okay with no problems.

After school, one of my JTE's called his car man to come and take a look at my car. He arrived in a tow truck and took it away! The next day (Friday), he took apart my engine and tried to see what was wrong with it. He said that whatever problem it was was only fixable by replacing the entire engine. Knowing that it wasn't worth it, I said that I'll look for another car. He put the engine back together, and the car runs, but it feels weak. There is definitely less power than before, and the car will probably die in the near future. I can still drive it places, but I am trying my best to get my "poor man's dream car" (Toyota Celica GT-Four) as soon as possible. I need to find out how to get rid of this car, too.

It was a wonderful time, and all of the seemingly bad things are actually pieces of good fortune in disguise.

Word of the Day: 旅行 「りょこう」 "ryokou" which means "trip" or "travel."

1 comment:

  1. excellent account of a action packing time in miyagi. I think the term oreo takes on some sort of racial connotation nowadays, but i'll take it.

    karaoke note: we performed an excellent rendition of Kanye's remix of Daft Punk's Stronger and showed Japanese people how american's treat/abuse an open bar. I would say you weren't as weak as we were extreme. Saki-bombs all around!

    Car story note: One of the lucky parts of the drive home, is that i kept the car in neutral for the first 15 kilo's since I was near the top of a tall mountain when it died. its probably the main reason why i actually made it home without carrying the car on my back.

    school note: all the kids make me origami which is now on my wall back in DC!

    It conclusion, many adventures, cool memories, and souvenirs! It is well worth you while to make a pilgrimage to Hbag and the prefecture of Miyagi!