Since last Monday was a holiday I didn’t have to go to school. My family went to the biggest Buddha in Japan (not the famous one but one that is relatively new) though I didn’t go with them. My plan was to get homework done and explore the area some more because they left me a house key. I didn’t get up until 11 because I’ve had little sleep lately. When I did get up I wrote e-mails and ended up staying inside all day. Tuesday was more eventful; I met Steph in Ueno and we saw the movie The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves (which we both really enjoyed). Before and after the movie we wondered around the area and saw two Buddhist temples and Ueno park. It’s really amazing that they have so many green parks in the midst of huge office buildings. It almost feels surreal when I’m walking around the greenery and I suddenly spot a high rise between the leaves.
One of the temples had a wall of wishes; the wishes are written on a piece of wood and then tied onto a peg. It was one of the best visual representations of many different languages and cultures. There were wishes written in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, English, Dutch, French, Arabic, German and many more. I took pictures of all the wishes on one side of the wall (I’m planning on using them for my next Photography critique) and a few on the other side that interested me. We went inside the temple and bought a board for ourselves and wrote our wishes down. It was really hard to generalize my wishes so they would fit on one half of the small board.
Wednesday I had my Art History midterm which was a lot harder than I expected. He doesn’t really lecture so the only information we get is from the readings and research we do on our own. When he briefly went over the questions on the exam it was really generalized, which makes sense since he doesn’t want to give us the exact questions, but it made it difficult to know what to focus our research on. I ended up writing two practice essays on questions I thought he might ask but when I read the real questions, neither of my practice essays worked. I had to come up with totally new information and I racked my brain for one hour and didn’t feel confident when I turned both essays in. He gave them back to us the next Friday (which is amazing since we have about 30 people in our class) and I got a B+. I was really surprised since I didn’t feel good about either of them really but I tried to answer the questions whereas most people just spit out any information they knew on the subject. This Friday I have my Gender midterm which I’m sure is going to be much harder (gulp!).
Thursday another homestay student (Megan) in the area and her mom (Megumi) came to our house for a little bit. Megan can speak a little Japanese and we used her as a translator until she had to go to school. After Megan left Ayumi and Megumi took me to an electronic store to look at phone plans. I asked a lot of questions and finally found something that sounded like a good deal but Ayumi asked me if I wanted to look at prepaid phones. I hadn’t planned on it but decided I should look at all my options before making a decision. Megumi left us and Ayumi and I rode to another electronic store she thought had prepaid phones. Turns out it didn’t but we found one not too far away. I decided to try the prepaid phone first and if it doesn’t work out I’ll get a phone with a monthly plan.
Friday we had another meeting for the Christian club and it was really cool because Steph brought her guitar and we sang several worship songs. (I forgot to mention that at the church she goes to she leads worship. I think for a couple of Sundays she was doing it solo…Amazing and impressive!) After the meeting I went to Roppongi where they had a Softbank (one of the major phone companies, the other is AU) with staff who spoke English. I bought the phone and had them register my number which took about an hour. I thought about going back to school while I was waiting since it was so close but decided to explore the area since I didn’t have anything important to get done at school. I walked down the main road which was really busy and had a lot of shops and restaurants. When I turned off the main road I noticed there seem to be a park or something with lots of trees and decided to check it out. I had found a cemetery; it was very peaceful and there was an air of respect that surrounded the place. It was such an amazing experience.
After school Steph came back home with me and spent the night. We talked until 11 with Ayumi about Japanese culture, especially in regard to marriage. She told us that husbands don’t generally help their wives, they are almost the same as children. Wives don’t really want their husbands around because they add extra work and the less time they are around, the less fights occur and the less likelihood of divorce. Japanese women are envious of the wives whose husbands work and live away from the home. It was so shocking to hear that and Steph and I told her what the ideal American marriage looked like.
Steph and I ended up staying up until 2 am talking about anything and everything. It was really nice to have girl talk even though we were exhausted the next day. Saturday we went to her pastor’s (Jeremiah) house about two hours away. Jeremiah and Geigy have three kids, California, Jazz, and Justus and while Jeremiah and Geigy went to a wedding Steph and I watched the kids. We had a lot of fun with them, we took them to a nearby park and ran and played for a while and picked up ice-cream afterward. It was so nice to be able to speak English to kids and have them understand me.
That night we went to a church service that was conducted mostly in Japanese and I even recognized several of the songs. Jeremiah and Geigy are moving into a bigger house and have put some of their stuff in the new house, though they are still living in the old house. Steph and I were able to spend the night in the empty house (before they moved in) and it was really nice. The next morning Geigy picked us up and we had breakfast with the family. We went to the newly renovated building (most of the work was done by volunteers and it looked amazing!) painted in bright colors on the outside and the inside. The service was very small but everyone was really encouraging and I hope to be able to go back soon. This Friday is the start of a bilingual college group and I’m planning on going with Steph.
On my way back home I stopped at a station a few stops before mine and explored the mall attached directly to the station. I had lunch at one of the bakeries (they have really yummy bakeries here, I’m so spoiled) and headed back home. I made another stop at a store next to my station and walked home slowly enjoying the nice, clear day and cool weather. When I arrived home I found that my family was planning on going to a video rental store right next to the store I had just been at. Ayumi was in the middle of writing an e-mail to me when I showed up. I decided to go with them and we rode our bikes to the store (thankfully, because my feet were hurting by then). We ended up getting Bambi, The Emperor’s New Groove (my recommendation), the new Pride and Prejudice and a few others. Today (Tuesday) Ayumi and I are going to watch Pride.
Yesterday Megan and I met Megumi at a tsukiji (a Japanese fish market) and had lunch in one of the restaurants. I took a picture of my lunch so you can see how far I’ve come.