Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Japanese Barbeque

It was my distinct adventure to be a part of a Japanese Barbeque yesterday. Yesterday was Greenery Day the first day of Golden Week, a string of four holidays almost consecutively. The church that Aukje has been attending most Sundays while she has been living in Osaka, had a church barbeque at the hanabakutsurumiryokuchi (a big park a 25 min walk from our apt.). The park has barbequing areas and the church had secured one of these. The affair lasted for about 5 hours and we were eating most of the time. Food comes in small quantities but flows continuously. I sampled a large variety of different foods many of which I am not used to. I stayed away from the grilled squid, but sampled the cow intestine, the bamboo chutes, and the dried squid. I thoroughly enjoyed the beef and the sausages. I also enjoyed a tin of Kirin and got a taste of some really enjoyable rice wine.
Communication was not easy when I was engaged on my own but we managed with my few Japanese words and their few English words and some gestures as well. For more in depth conversation my wife did some interpreting for me. I was exposed to many interesting cultural moments. It was an enjoyable time but also very tiring.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Den Den Town

We are shopping for a fridge. Shopping for a fridge in a foreign country is different from shopping for a fridge in your native country. It can be more difficult because you are attacking the problem without much knowledge. First of all we didn't know where to go. We happened across a small appliance store in our neighborhood and had a boo, checked the prices and sizes. (There are scads of different sizes of fridges here). Later we realized there were fridges at the Yodabashi so we checked prices (which were cheaper than in the neighborhood) and selection was much more varied. We found two which would be suitable, but decided not to buy just yet. As we were headed to Yodabashi we met and talked to Noelle a Japanese friend (who speaks English) and she suggested Den Den Town was the place to go. I went on a scouting mission and discovered a place of nothing but electronics and related products. Spectacular to a technophobe such as myself. I discovered a very large variety and even better prices in an area that spans city blocks. Jackpot!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A time of Grief

In my new city, we had a tragedy yesterday. A train crash. The worst train disaster in Japan since 1963. The Japanese railway system, which is very extensive and on which a vast number of people rely for transportation, is considered one of the safest in the world. I fear for the driver. Traditional Japanese culture will demand honour. A situation of this magnitude will demand his death to satisfy that honour. I hope God's grace will prevail.

I lament this chaos.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Pocari Sweat

This one is for all you William Gibson fans (like me). On first glance to North Americans it looks like something sweet, but no it does actually say sweat. I wonder if that is supposed to taste good? My wife, once, when she was in a hurry and very thirsty was running by a drink machine, (which there are a lot of in Japan). Quickly she popped in her change and thought, hmmm, something sweet might be nice. Almost needless to say but not quite since it adds to the story, she reread the can after the first sip. Kampai!

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Quote

We are but two dimensional manifestations in a two dimensional world. Oh how I long for that day of glory when we will inhabit and engage all seven dimensions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Brush with the Unknown

I was on my way to the grocery store. I was chuffed to see the elevator already on my floor. As I hopped in the elevator I heard a door slam and then small feet as they scurried for the elevator. A little girl about six or seven quickly jumped into the car with me. Adults often keep their head down, polite but nervous about what to say to a foreigner. The little girl greeted me with interest and a smile. Konichiwa, I greeted her, and she responded with the same. She said to me, kono ikura desuka? My first clue, the tone of voice. Aha a question! Hmm, a simple question. I searched my memory banks. What could she be asking? I made like Arnold Schwarzanegger in the Terminator, scrolling through all the data bank menus, searching searching… Wait a glimmer, I think she is asking me where I am from. Quickly, acting as if there was no unnatural pause, (even though I bought myself some time with an um) I responded Kanada, with a big happy smile. She seemed a little confused; perhaps she doesn’t know what country that is. We arrived at the lobby where her bicycle was waiting, she had just forgotten her keys. I held the door open for her so she could easily get her bike out, and after we were done, I got a big smile and an arigatoo. (Thankyou). I waved good bye and mumbled something back. I think I may have made a friend. I was certainly a very happy person today.

Upon further reflection and discussion with my sensei who actually speaks Japanese, Okuni would be the word for country, so she wasn't asking me that, hence the confusion on her face. Further, what I have written doesn't make sense. Hmmm. My first conversation didn't go well.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Feet Dry

We touched down at Kanasi airport at 3:17pm local time, and arrived at our apartment at about 5:30pm. Traffic on the train and subaway was fairly light for this time of day. That was a Godsend since with three large and two small bags it was much easier to make our journey home.