Konnichiwa (that is actually in the Word spell check)
On Saturday I went to Kyoto and visited with Tomoko. I did absolutely nothing intellectual. We went to Starbucks, and just walked around. We also went in Channel and the sales people kept looking at me like I was going to buy something. Then we also went to her brother's LIVE (show). It was exactly like a US punk show. People standing around with their arms crossed, nodding their heads.
On Sunday I went to Himeji Jyo (castle). It was AWESOME. Just a huge castle that was really we reconstructed. They suggest 90 minutes for the tour, but I spent over 3 hours. People were looking at me funny because I was lying on the floor in the hallways to take photos. It was fun spotting the gaijin (foreigners) because they would go to the vending machines and in a state of confusion yell “EXCUSE ME! Where's the water?!” I at least try to speak Japanese, but no one ever understands me. I also encountered a ninja eating ice cream. He started talking to me and it was really awkward. His English was fine, but he was dressed like a ninja...
On Monday I went to a café/bar with some work people to watch World Cup. I was wearing a Samurai Blue jersey which got me either high fives or laughs. Masako told me to wear blue, but forgot to wear blue herself. I made fun of her. Even though we share almost no language, we have figured out nonverbal ways to make fun of each other. The entire bar exploded in cheers when Japan scored their goal. I never watch soccer so I mostly didn't care, but it was fun to be in a place where everyone was so crazy for the team. That is except for the guy blowing smoke in my face the whole time. I've noticed that many Japanese don't smoke the cigarette to the end. They smoke less than half and then light up a new one.
I'm starting to realize that Japan is a really strange combination of the future and 1973. You go out in the middle of nowhere and see amazingly well designed and impeccably crafted buildings, incredible ads for the most mundane things, and high resolution monitors integrated into everything. Then in a big city, an expensive new apartment building looks like a cheap hotel in Atlantic City circa Danny Bonaduce. It's really hard to explain the weird mix of decades unless you've seen it first hand. Also great is the public signage like the cartoon of the dog holding a bag of poop.
Japanese television is so bizarre. Basically, you have sports, news, or some kind of variety show/weak Fear Factor show. On the news for the past few days there seems to be some on going story about some broken elevators. I really can't make out anything more than that they are broken. I don't think anyone died or anything. Also of interest is the 4 days of segments on a building that fell in a sinkhole. But they only talked about the earthquake that we had the other day for about 3 seconds.
Tonight on what I will call “Fear Factor” they had a bunch of girls in yellow dresses and some guy. Then they would bring out animals like mice and soccer playing dogs. Then the girls all scream, they put an eye mask on the guy, and then stick a feather up his nose. Then on another show, they cram as much stuff as they can, like cotton balls or yams, into a bag. Then the winner got stuff like packaged ramen or a big pile of panties.
The cafeteria workers in the dorm are ridiculously nice. Tonight I was really hungry after work so I grabbed a small dish of curry rice at a Yoshinoya. At dinner time I wasn't that hungry so I didn't take this one dish in the cafeteria. [There is this meat that is really common here, it reminds me of cold, boiled, fatty bacon. It's ok, but if I'm going to ditch something, that is one of the first things to go.] I sat down, and then a few minutes later, the one woman shows up with a fried egg and ham for me.