It’s been a whirlwind of a week with much excitement and a roller coaster of emotions.
On Thursday I met with Steph and we went to check out the one guest house that would let us see the rooms and facilities. All the other places she called said they wouldn’t know about availability until a month before we would want to move in. We arrived at the station but because of miscommunication (with many phone calls between Steph and the manager of the guest house) we met him later than planned. He walked us to the building located on a narrow, busy street filled with restaurants. After parking his bike he led us up the very narrow staircase and told us there was no elevator. The room was on the fifth floor and the while building looked ready to fall apart. Everything was old and disorganized, the room itself was very small (which Steph had been told previously) and the washing machine (there was no dryer) and showers were coin-operated. We were not impressed and decided we would rather pay more for an apartment if it meant avoiding that situation.
Thursday night was dinner at the sushi bar. We arrived a bit late and the whole second floor had been reserved for the group. At first I was worried because I thought I would have to kneel the whole time but it turned out the floor under the table was lower. The food was laid out but no one had started eating yet. I ended up sitting next to a woman who knew English fairly well and she helped me with the food. I was also able to see a whole new side of the Japanese. I had heard that when they drink they open up a lot more, sometimes they get a little crazy. None of the people I was sitting with seemed too drunk but they certainly loosened up. I was so used to seeing the quiet, reserved, never-look-you-in-the-eye Japanese. So when everyone was speaking loudly and their faces were very animated and they were even (gasp!) touching each other, I was taken aback. It felt like I was in the States (except I couldn’t understand what most of the people were saying). I even met a woman from the Philippines who spoke English fluently. All in all the night was very enjoyable and it was nice to try new foods and meet new people.
On Friday during my lunch break I met up with Steph. She had found another place about 8 minutes walk from the school. The women was willing to meet with us whenever we were able. We called right away to plan a meeting point and headed out. The woman was very nice, spoke English fluently and seemed very professional. She walked us to the building which had been recently renovated and is in a nice area. She showed us different rooms including her favorites (and ours as well) and explained the price and monthly bills. The place was very nice and each room has a sink (with no hot water but a hot plate is provided) and a fridge. It was very small but the price is right and we wouldn’t have to pay for showers or our laundry (and they had a dryer). Plus free wireless internet is also provided. Overall it was very positive and the complete opposite of what happened with the guest house. We’re really hoping that it will work out there. God has been so wonderful to provide for us.
In Photography Shinya is planning an overnight trip to Hokkaido (the northern most main island) in November for our class. I hadn’t planned on going because of the cost, even though the plane ticket is pretty cheap, for me it’s a lot. During my break on Friday, before Steph was able to tell me about the apartment, Shinya asked me why I wasn’t going. I explained that I won’t be able to stay with my family next semester and had planned on moving to an apartment so I needed to save my money. He said he understood but we could talk about it if I was interested. He even said that maybe I could work at school, cleaning up the computer lab or something. I was so surprised that he actually came and talked to me about it. It was very flattering and made me admire him even more.
Saturday I went with my family to Yui’s bazaar at her school. I was able to see more of the grounds and Ayumi bought a few things at the bazaar. There were a few performances (dancing, a band and baton twirlers) and they were very well done, especially for grade school kids.
After we got home Ayumi and I put on kimonos (which took about an hour) and headed to the local Japanese garden where we posed a lot for pictures. The kimono is somewhat akin to a corset because the area around the stomach is very tight. Ayumi said that normally there are about three women that help with the kimono and they make them so tight that the wearer cannot eat or drink or they will become sick. But Ayumi didn’t make it that tight, though it certainly was tighter than what I’m used to.
For dinner we went to a sushi bar were the food was on a conveyor belt. We simply picked up the plates we wanted as they passed by and at the end we paid for all the plates (about $1 per plate, pretty good).
Sunday I attended the church in Tokyo. Next week the man who caused so much tension at the building meeting will be speaking. I will probably go to Steph’s church next week, I’ve wanted to go and now’s a good a time as any.
After chuch and lunch I took the train to Yokohama (about an hour ride) to visit a different church and hear a missionary from California speak. The church was very small, maybe 15 people and a few kids. Everyone was very friendly and after the sermon (spoken in English with a Japanese translator, and very well done) we spoke with each other, drank tea and ate sweets for about an hour. It was very encouraging and I hope to visit again sometime. (After, John the missionary, took me to a “T.G.I. Friday’s” where the food tasted the same as the States. I love Japanese food but it was nice to have something “different.”)
Today (Monday) I went to one class and my other teachers were nice enough to let me have the day off. I was able to take my friend to the airport. It was a crazy day but on the way home I transferred to the wrong line only once and at one station the map for the ticket was all in Kanji. Fortunately I know the characters for my station so I was able to find my way. It’s an adventure to go anywhere new.
I have a Photography critique Wednesday as well as a presentation for Art History and a paper is due in Gender on Friday. Life is certainly picking up speed. It’s a bit stressful but it’s definitely exciting as well. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for over a month. Sometimes it’s still hard to even believe I’m actually here.