Monday, May 15, 2006

grand finale

Well folks, I'm at the end of my internship in Chiba. It's been a really great year and I'm really going to miss the friends I've made and the places I've been. I have one last flurry of photos for all who are interested. They come with their own convenient captions. Again I apologize, many of these were taken with my cell camera, I didn't have my digital with me. If you squint they won't look so bad.

I recently took Channing, our newest team member, on a tour of Tokyo. After visiting the Imperial Palace Gardens we stopped by Tsukiji fish market for lunch. I've been told that every restaurant of note in Tokyo buys its sushi-grade fish at this market. After sushi we stopped by this street vendor selling mussels - grilled in the shell. Yummy. Those are sea urchins at the bottom. The inside has the richness of fois gras but taste of the sea. Great over rice.

My friends Haruna (holding chopsticks) and Sayuri, and Uchi (not pictured) prepared a delicious farewell dinner for me in a friend's apartment. The main course was chirashizushi. Imagine a bed of rice with snow peas, small slices of sashimi, sugar, and egg on top. It doesn't get any better.

This is Kenji, a college outreach staff member, looking his best. His English is very good and he often translates for me if I talk myself into a corner. Kenji and Channing also attended the dinner party. The background is a typical college apartment. What you see in the picture is about 25% of the entire living space, including the kitchen.

Dan and Carol are my host-parents. Dan is the Chiba team leader, English teacher, Bible-study leader, and pastor of Oyumino Church - for starters. Sometimes I think he gets more work done in a day than I will do in my undergraduate career. Carol is a KCS (soon to be CCSI) teacher and mother of nine kids. She also is very involved in the community. Thank you, Dan and Carol, for putting up with me for a year and being so nice about it :-)

It was a typical Sunday morning. I arrived at church a few minutes late for my Bible study at Honda Chapel, set up a few chairs, and tried without much luck to decode the Japanese sermon. (One nice thing is that many of the praise songs are in hiragana, not kanji, so that younger kids and people like me can pronounce them. This way I'm able to sing most of the songs in church, which is nice, even if I'm not certain of their meaning.) During the announcements, Nagata-san told congregation that I would be leaving. "Peetah-kun.... America ni kaerimasu...sui-yobi.... etc." Then before I realized it, he invited everyone to sento that night to see me off!

For the uninitiate, a sento is a traditional Japanese public bath. For details, try wikipedia, or watch Spirited Away. If you think that it's just a glorified hot tub, you need to experience it for yourself. Due to the nature of the sento, I did not take photos inside, but here are Ryosuke and Toshi relaxing and drinking coffee afterward.

That's about it. I may post a few more photos when I get back to the states, but Nashi Fruit is ending. This summer I'm continuing my Japanese studies at Stanford University and will be attending Georgetown University in the Fall. Thanks for watching!


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

ads i've seen on the train

I took these with my cell phone. Sorry for the shakiness.


I recently excurded solo to Tokyo for hanami (flower watching).

Flower watching - usually sakura, or cherry blossoms - is a serious spectator sport in Japan. Families will eat picnic lunches under cherry trees, sometimes lingering long into the evening and talking over beer and cigarettes. Since Japan is a very vertical country, some people even take month-long trips, starting in the south and driving north, to follow the sakura blossoming. Hardcore.

These pictures are from Ueno park. I was really impressed with how the lantern (?)...indwelt.... the tree behind it in this picture. The branches are just where the artist went a little crazy, or where he gave his sculpture an organic halo.

Homeless people inhabit the green and blue shelters in the background. Interestingly, even people at this level of society line their shoes neatly outside their shelters.