Hanging out in Kanagawa-ken

Will I ever actually start writing what I intended to write about two hours ago when I first sat down at my computer to add to my blog? I hope. Things just kept popping in to my head, so they became their own entries.

You need to read June 6 entries from bottom to top.

So indeed, I had a great weekend. Recapping, in case you don’t want to read from bottom to top,

My friend David (or Dave) from Los Angeles / San Francisco was visiting Japan with his from David (or Dave) from San Francisco. Apparently, Nagoya isn’t interesting enough to warrant a visit (sigh) so I made the trek up to Tokyo. That’s a huge sacrifice of course, having to go to Tokyo.

Dave (my old friend and not his friend) and I planned to meet for dinner on Friday night at 8:00 pm in Shinjuku. Dave had met my friend Jin during his visits to LA so I invited Jin to join us as well.

Jin invited a friend of his along as well, and we went to a nice café in Shinjuku Ni-chome and checked out the scene. It isn’t West Hollywood or the Castro, but it had its own vibe. Jin’s friend remains unidentified per his request. Sigh.

Dave, Dave, Dave’s friend Kenji and I met Saturday morning to do a day trip to Kamakura. I had not been to Kamakura in years. Some of my favorite black and white photos from Japan are from Kamakura.

 

 

 

I was curious what it would be like to go back to Kamakura with a digital camera instead of my film camera. Can I say I miss shooting on film?

We had a great time hanging out together, and I enjoyed Dave’s friend Dave and Dave’s friend Dave’s friend Kenji. I think from now on I’ll refer to Dave’s friend Dave as Dave II. I wish Tomo could have joined us, and that was the plan, but unfortunately last minute work plans messed up his schedule.

Kamakura is known for it’s 大仏 (daibutsu) or huge statue of Buddha. When we got off the train I saw the picture below and thought, “What’s the big deal?”

 

Ha ha. We walked to some different areas than I had not seen before and visited lots of temples. We stumbled across a Shinto wedding, complete with the traditional videographer.

 

It was cool to catch just the bride, groom, and the attendants.

 

There were a number of beautiful things to see at the various temples.

Honestly though, we saw so many, I’ve forgotten what we actually saw, so just enjoy the pictures below with no sense of place. Sorry about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At one temple, there was a woman selling cookies. It was clear that it was a fundraiser and she had samples. The cookies were very good. She was trying to communicate what the fundraising was about. I totally misunderstood her, and Dave II will claim that it was my doing. Anyway, I thought she was telling me that the cookies will make you smart because she was pointing to her head. Then she pointed to the picture which clearly indicated that the cookies were hand made by children with Down’s Syndrome. Needless to say, we bought some and referred to them as “the guilt cookies” as we munched them throughout the day. Miscommunication – you’ve got to hate it sometimes.

We had a terrific lunch and Dave II took some amazing food porn pictures. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not so good with food porn, so you’ll just have to believe me.

We wandered back to downtown Kamakura by train and then went to the daibutsu. It was as great as I remember.

Giving a sense of scale

A very large buddha

 

A color version of my previous black and white

The daibutsu in color

 

It gets pretty hot being the daibutsu ..

Back vents

 

Here are Dave II, Dave, and Kenji at the shrine

Fellow travelers

 

We also went to check at the 地蔵 (jizou) at Hasedera. Jizou are the guardian deity of children, or the patron deity of pregnant women. Many times, a statue is placed at this temple for lost children, often times aborted children. In the past when I was there, many of the jizou were highly decorated with toys, beads, and clothes. This time it seems there is an effort to tone things down.

Jizo

 

jizo

 

We walked to the beach at Kamakura as well and decided it was pretty ugly and dirty. For dinner, we thought we’d go to Chinatown in Yokohama. On the way there we saw something I’ve never seen before – a parent falling asleep instead of a child. It must have been a long day.

Tired on the train

 

We walked around Chinatown and finally made it to dinner.

Yokohama Chinatown

 

Yokohama Chinatown

 

Yokohama Chinatown

 

Of course, on our travels, we saw a few things that just didn’t make sense to us.

I’ve never seen a name this long in Japan

I've never seen a name this long

 

Huh?

 

A pork ice cream shop?

 

I have no idea how Amish cooking is related to Kamakura.

Japanese Amish

 

Japanese Amish

 

 

On Sunday, Tomo and I got to hang out together. We saw Star Trek. He had not seen any of the Star Trek movies and enjoyed it. I liked it too, although I think J. J. Abrams needs to stay away from time travel in everything he does. It is too convenient.

There, that’s a major blog entry.

忘れ物を忘れないでください

Last weekend was a terrific weekend. It didn’t start out so good, but I convinced myself to turn my frown upside down, pack up my troubles, sing halleluiah and get happy, and not let it bother me.

My friend David (or Dave) from Los Angeles / San Francisco was visiting Japan with his from David (or Dave) from San Francisco. Apparently, Nagoya isn’t interesting enough to warrant a visit (sigh) so I made the trek up to Tokyo. That’s a huge sacrifice of course, having to go to Tokyo.

Dave (my old friend and not his friend) and I planned to meet for dinner on Friday night at 8:00 pm in Shinjuku. Dave had met my friend Jin during his visits to LA so I invited Jin to join us as well. Of course, I had to work, but was planning on bugging out early to that I could get home, drop the work clothes and computer, grab my bag, and head to Tokyo. Of course, I had a meeting run long, and it really wasn’t a meeting I could leave. The intensity level was ratcheting up, and I needed to be there.

With one eye on my watch and another eye on the mood of my Japanese colleagues, I was able to wrap things up in time to catch a 4:20 pm train back to Nagoya. I got home, did the drop, changed clothes, finished packing my bag, and high-tailed it out of the apartment.

It was a pretty muggy day, so I was feeling sticky before I really even started traveling. I got to my subway, timed it well, and was on the subway BACK to Nagoya station and it looked like I’d have just enough time to check in to my hotel and catch the subway to Shinjuku. I noticed a scary old man in front of me on the train, and the train was crowded too and I felt like I was knocking people with my bags. The scary old man got off the train rather quickly.

I too was moving rather quickly to the Shinkansen but had not yet exited the subway. As I was heading towards the wickets, I noticed a crazy old man (was it the same one) kind of looking at me and waving his hand with a goofy grin, and it seemed like he was tapping his pocket.

[As I write this, I hear fireworks exploding in the background. Has fireworks season started? What matsuri am I missing?]

So the crazy man caused me concern. Did I get pickpocketed and was he brazenly taunting me? I tapped my back pocket and, much to my surprise, I found no wallet. Generally, Japan is very safe and I maintained good judgment. I calmly thought to myself, “Oh, drat” and then broke out in a frustrated soaking sweat. I turned around, got on the subway, and headed back home, hoping that my wallet was sitting somewhere in my apartment.

This little round trip of about 15 minutes meant that my start location and end location of my subway ride were exactly the same place. I never actually LEFT the subway. I knew this would present problems when exiting, so I went directly to the attendant and explained I had forgotten something. He worked his magic and I was allowed to exit.

I got home, went to my bedroom, and there was my wallet sitting on my bed. Teasing me. Oh well. Now, of course, it was getting late. If I caught the 6:00 pm shinkansen I would be able to take the Chuo Line from Tokyo to Shinjuku with my camera bag and surprisingly heavy weekend bag (traveling with an extra pair of shoes and a computer adds weight), maybe find a locker, and JUST get to the meeting place in time to see David and Jin. I treated myself and went Green Car of course, and remained calm. I made it no problem right at 8:00 pm.

I have NOT left the building

I know I have been remiss in my duties as a blogger and my general commitment to the blogosphere. But as a whole, it is not too bad considering the result of the “average life of a blog” search on Google.  According to Caslon Analytics

Several studies indicate that most blogs are abandoned soon after creation (with 60% to 80% abandoned within one month, depending on whose figures you choose to believe) and that few are regularly updated. 

The ‘average blog’ thus has the lifespan of a fruitfly. One cruel reader of this page commented that the average blog also has the intelligence of a fly.

The Perseus report noted above indicates that 66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, “representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned”. 



Jeffrey Henning of Perseus sniffed that

“Apparently the blog-hosting services have made it so easy to create a blog that many tire-kickers feel no commitment to continuing the blog they initiate. In fact, 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days.”

Perseus claimed that the average duration of the remaining 1.63 million abandoned blogs was 126 days, with some 132,000 blogs being abandoned after a year or more. The oldest abandoned blog surveyed had been maintained for 923 days.

That said, I should be proud that I have lasted over a year and over 100 entries. The fact remains that now my life is just sort of life. I’m here living, I’m doing fun stuff sometimes, I’m getting frustrated sometimes, but it is not THAT different from life in West Lafayette, or Los Angeles. I go to work, I do dishes, I do laundry, I watch a little TV (very little), I eat, I sleep, and so on. How exciting is it to say, “I went to bed at 12:42 am last night and, as usual, my alarm went off at 6:00 am. Gosh I was tired.”

I could whine about Japan as you often hear the expats who have been here too long complain profusely about Japan, the Japanese, and life in general. When you suggest it is time to leave, they state, “Gosh, I could never live in the US again.” Okaaaaayyyy.

This week I had big plans to write, and get everyone updated. Monday night I had to study for class on Tuesday, and Tuesday I had class. A general lethargy set in, that turned in to a cold. But I will keep this up, and might even double post tonight if I get my notes and pictures from last weekend pulled together.