Hi Folks! First off, thank you for all the messages and comments about my last newsletter! Great to hear from you and I’ll try to incorporate what I can in future newsletters…though there aren’t many to go before I return home! You can also view this newsletter (text-only) at http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cassl001/raincastles/
This past month was not so exciting…with a couple of exceptions. Mostly I have just been working on my research and teaching a few English lessons a week. I’ve met up with friends for lunch or dinner or maybe to go to a café. I got my haircut short again, though the stylist just couldn’t bring himself to cut my hair quite as short as I had asked, but it’s all good. Sometimes I just watch the Japanese game shows and try to figure out what they’re all about. A few times I figured out what they were asking (trivia games) and knew the answers, though not always in Japanese!!
Around the start of the month, I went with friends to the tokasan festival to pray for a good summer. It’s also unofficially a kind of yukata festival, so many people were in yukata (kind of like a summer kimono) and jim-bei (kind of shorts and top for men). There were colors and patterns galore! We also went to an Indian restaurant for some delicious curry. It was a good time…
I also mentioned last month that I was going to Takarazuka, the all women’s revue. Well, I went and saw the Cosmos troupe. It was a good time and the show was set up in two parts. The first part reminded me of “Hotel Baltimore” (I think that’s the title of the play) and the second part was a kind of showy Vegas-style feathers and sequins event. That’s more of what I was expecting, but it was interesting. Especially how the “male” characters portrayed their “male-ness” in an over-the-top way. I would easily say that it was campy: jutting jaws, hands jauntily in the pants pockets, step-step-turn-sweep-woman-into-arms type of campy. The singing was interesting thinking back to my years in choirs, I am sure that the “male” characters were singing in a way that sounded as though it would be painful over time. I still think that it was overpriced, though it was a kind of phenomena with all of the female audience, grandmas on a day out, mother/daughter pairs, wives dragging husbands, many OLs (office ladies) in fan club groups, etc. Fascinating sub-culture, I think. As far as I could tell, I was the only non-Japanese there! For anyone interested, I did buy a program in case you’d like to learn more!
Watched the FIFA game with a friend at a yakitori shop over a few beers. I love yakitori! (ie mostly chicken skewered and grilled over an open flame with veggies, sauces, etc.)
One Saturday last month, I met the teen daughter of a colleague and we went into H City to visit with some of my friends, go to a museum exhibit, and since we’re both book hounds, to the bookstore at Sogo’s. It was a great day and we both really enjoyed ourselves. We ended up at a standing yakitori bar and just had a blast with my friends eating different kinds of yakitori and talking. Afterwards, I teased her not to tell her mom, but she assured me that as long as she didn’t drink, it’s all fine. : )
A friend of mine from Fukuyama came to HCity and I was her tour guide to Miyajima island. It was her first time there, but we had a great time. Afterwards we met up with some of my friends in HCity and went out for American-style restaurant (my first in Japan!), then to an Irish pub for a few more drinks and some salty snacks. It was a blast and towards the end of the evening, we realized that each of us was from a different blood-type group and so of course we’d have a blast. Ha-ha! It was funny! (BTW: Blood-type is a typical conversation topic and is a lot like horoscopes were in the US as far as telling you compatibility, pre-dispositions, etc..)
More recently, it’s been getting quite hot each day and I can’t begin to describe the humidity. Suffices to say it’s worse that it ever was in Florida and I have at long last fired up my heater/air conditioner for it’s diuretic effect on my room’s air. (Have been told that I should air out books in the sun so they don’t mold. How scary is that?!?!)
Well, this next month will be busy with a cousin from eastern Pennsylvania coming to visit (ensuing trips to Kyoto for Gion Matsuri/Festival, Miyajima for Kangen Matsuri/Festival, and other destinations TBD) and a few sayonara parties towards the end of the month. I am also looking for and apply for jobs now too! Let me know if you have any tips! : )
Here are a few links that may be of interest to you:
Whale & lamb burgers:
What do you do with a drunken sailor?
Women in Japan
Kinky kings give new meaning to fairy penguins:
Sambo returns to books racks in Japan:
Interesting article that touches on male “coupling” and “boys love” in the world of mangas/comics women are making popular in Japan: