Sunday, April 25, 2010

Of Baskets, Compact Discs and Frilly Skirts

Today I woke at 8:15am--major sleeping in for me here--feeling 95% better than last night! I decided to move along at a nice, slow pace, having nothing major planned besides a trip to Jusco to buy eggs and pancake syrup (I'm making french toast tomorrow for breakfast...yay!), to wash a few clothes, and as it was sunny and beautiful, to get on my bike, take off in a direction, and see where the wind and wandering took me.

What an excellent day! Before I even left my house, Steph and I miraculously were near the computer's Skype at the same time, so we got to talk for a long time as her Saturday ended and my Sunday began. We caught up on each other's lives (the little things that can't be understood entirely through blogging (no matter how thorough one might try to be), and just generally touched base. I wasn't 100%, alas, but 95% was a heck-ton better than yesterday!

Also, as a total aside, since I've arrived in Japan, I've found it difficult to sleep through the night without getting up at least once (usually to use the bathroom...I'm wondering if the tea intake is getting to me) for some reason or another. I think the environment is just so different from what my mind and body is used to (even now). For one thing, it's WAY quieter here! In Philadelphia, my room is at the back of the house, so I'm not as thoroughly inundated as my poor mother with the music of the city (ambulances, cars, buses, screaming people, etc) but even the relative quiet of the rear of a Philadelphia house is a perpetual boom box in comparison to the peace and quiet here. I think in the back of my mind, the silence is warning my backbrain that something must be terribly wrong, and so I'm up every few hours checking in to make sure the world hasn't ended. (You'd think after a month...but no)

Also, Japan doesn't go on daylight savings time, so this time of year the sun rises here sometime between 4:45 and 5am every morning. Even with the curtain drawn, some sunlight peeks through, and so every morning (if I'm working) I wake up in a state of mild terror, convinced I've overslept. I'm up at 5am, 5:30, 6am, etc. So unlike in the States, here in Japan, I'm an early riser. (though I refuse to let myself wake up before 6am. I'm still tired, even if my brain wants me out and about like an Army of one.) It's really weird.

So when I finally left my house (second set of laundry churning, first set hanging,) I started out in the direction of the Toyota Art Museum. I followed the running path by the art museum (there are some lovely pictures and videos of this path a few weeks ago during Sakura time that you can check out on facebook) then hung a left and aimed myself in the general direction of Jusco. I figured I'd go on past it and continue biking towards the mountains. Actually this city is surrounded by mountains, so I just aimed myself for the closest set and shebang!

On my way, I stopped at the Conbini and paid my gas bill (gas here is very expensive, which solve the mystery of why next to nowhere has the option for you to use hot water after washing your hands in the bathroom.) I also showed them the 100 yen ticket I'd gotten last week and asked them if they knew where I could pay it (with the vague hope that I could just do it there). As with everyone in Japan, they went way out of their way to help me (which makes you feel a little guilty actually), reading the ticket, looking up in the phone book the location of where to pay it and writing down the phone number for me. So now at least I have somewhere to call about this ticket. Not being able to read SUCKS!

Then I hung another left, (though the streets here are winding, so that doesn't mean that I was heading in the direction of two lefts, even though I had taken two lefts) and seeing distant mountains in front of me, peddled onwards. It was a crisp, beatiful day and I really had a wonderful time biking through the fantastic landscape, glancing at stores and resturaunts and other things as I peddled onwards. I did make one stop though that is worth noting, at a CD, Video Game, and book shop. This stop is worth noting in large part because of their used CD section. They were selling CDs as cheap as 50 yen a piece (that's about fifty cents), which is amazing especially considering how expensive CDs are here in Japan especially. I picked up about eight or nine CDs for 850 yen total (about $9, I bought one 100 and one 300 yen CD, splurging I know). The first one, by a band called Chemistry (I'm pretty sure I have one or two of their songs already, but this CD is different and it rocks!), is quite good (and it works). So this was a huge find for me! I also picked up a manga with furigana for kicks.

Eventually, I started coughing and feeling hungry, so I ate my Onigiri from the Conbini and then decided to head back. I'd seen a Jusco tower while biking, as well as the Stadium in the distance, so I figured that I'd retrace my steps, look for the Jusco tower again and then (assuming it was the other Jusco that's near Higashiyama) continue on further down the road, over the bridge and back towards my target Jusco. But actually, in about two hours of being out biking (and CD buying), I hadn't ventured as far afield as I'd thought...the Jusco tower was for “my” Jusco! So I went in, back to where I'd originally bought my bike, picked up a basket for the back rack (which the salesman installed, OMG thank you!), paid to have it registered with the police, picked up a U-lock (a small aluminum one that also is put through the wheel but is much thicker and more secure than my current wheel lock. One less thing to worry about.

Then after my bike purchases were complete, I wandered around for a little bit, and lacking shopping discipline, finally broke down and bought what I'd originally thought was one of those frilly skirts that I see everyone in, but turned out to be a pair of shorts that resembled the skirts (not quite a Squirt, but close). Considering how short these skirts are, I was much happier with the shorts, which go with the frilly shirt (both actually) that I bought last week, as well as my other t-shirts (yes, it's all black...awesome!). I almost bought a second skirt (that was actually a skirt) but I'm not made of money. I did pick up an adorable half price long sleeved shirt that I couldn't resist. (I'm turning into such a girl here!)

Lastly, I hit the grocery store where, as-per the usual, my 5 item shopping list turned into a full cart of goodies. I even found instant beef curry (with veggies I think), good for four meals, as well as a ton of other great food! I also bought some horrid processed Kraft cheddar cheese, which with the super processed shredded mozzarella I bought last week and a lot of strawberry jam, made a decent cheese toast. Tonight's dinner was an odd mix of American and Japanese: cheese toast with jelly, cocoa (with cinnamon...thanks Shveta; and generic brand Pocky...thanks Japan), stir fried veggies in special sauce and gyoza.

Now as I prepare for tomorrow, the beginning of another week of teaching, I feel excited, relaxed and happy. Also, thanks to the schedule change, I'm starting the week with Toyota Yogo, which means sweats and t-shirt to work. Yay