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Photo Dump

While putting together last week’s post, there were a lot of photos that I wanted to use, but couldn’t, since they didn’t fit with the narrative or had been taken on the wrong day.

So think of these as the deleted scenes.

This is the view from the mountain near Shirakawa-go. A bit of a hike to get up there, but pretty awesome scenery.

Another Cosmo flower, like the ones from the previous post.

There were fields of flowers all over the place.

I have no idea why this tree is wrapped up like a Christmas present, but I think my mom would like it.

A lot of the stores in the village, instead of having a fridge for drinks, kept them outside in this neat little set-up. It was actually pretty efficient at keeping the water and Ramune chilled.

Right before we left, I snuck down the bank and took a few pictures of the water, which was freezing.

We were taken on a tour of the forest at the Shirakawa-go Eco Institute. This bell is for alerting bears to our prescence. Hopefully in a time-to-leave kind of way and not in a dinner-is-served kind of way.

It’s hard to see, but most of these dogs are wearing little demon costumes, complete with tiny black wings.

At the famer’s market, most people were selling flowers, chili peppers and apples.

Pears too, as Phil demonstrates here.

Finally, a view of Takayama from the hill we attempted to climb on the way to the park.

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12 on the…er, 17th?

The idea behind twelve on the twelfth is to take 12 pictures on the twelfth of the month. Unfortunately, this month, the twelfth fell on Friday. So besides the fact that it can be hard for me to get a hold of a computer after 5PM, I definitely wasn’t going to be able to upload pictures over the weekend.

Also, the kid broke my camera and there was a mild amount of panic before the host family loaned me their old one. I loaded my card into it and was off.

First, a tribute to the dead camera. If you look closely, you can see that the outermost lens piece is dented in such a way that the camera won’t turn off. It’s appreantly irreparable in Japan, but a replacement is forthcoming.

Breakfast! About half the time, breakfast is Western style – some form of bread (toast or raisin roll), egg (fried or boiled), a little bit of lettuce and some ham. Otherwise it’s rice, miso soup, and some veggies. I always drink mugi-cha or barley tea in the morning, since the only milk they have is whole milk and I’d rather not puke on the way to school.

*sigh* I really wonder what the camera thouht I was focusing on. In most parts of Japan, people can park their bikes almost anywhere around the subway station, for free. Most of the time, they don’t even lock them up. However, near my station, you have to hook your bike up to this little doo-dad and pay a 100 yen to get it back at the end of the day. The cause of much griping on my host father’s part.

Side note – it feels really strange to refer to my host-parents as “parents.” There’s no physically possible way for them to have a daughter my age. At all.

After a twenty-minute bike ride (parking space finding time included), a fifteen minute subway ride and a ten minute walk, I arrive at Nanzan University.

Typically, everyone gathers around the building that holds the Center for Japanese Studies office until it opens at 9AM. There’s usually stuff about moved or cancelled classes, corrected quizzes, and ‘you lost something, please come pick it up’ notifications in our student boxes, so it’s a good place to start the day.

You’ll just have to imagine me sitting in Japanese class for the next three hours, as I didn’t think they’d take kindly to pictures being taken.

Instead, have a picture of one of the classroom buildings. Most of us had forgotten that Nanzan was a Christian unversity (though, a rather lax one) until we saw this.

Japanese class ends around lunchtime everyday and most of us tromp down the hill to eat at one of the school cafeterias. The food is okay and it’s cheaper than a hot meal might cost elsewhere.

Lunch for me is usually tonkotsu ramen at the cheapest cafteria…

…and something to drink from the vending machine. While you can find almost anything to drink in one of these things, including beer and hot tea, Japan is sadly lacking in the food vending department. I’ve yet to see anything besides ice cream offered.

Lunch is usually followed by more classes or, on this particular day, a trip to the computer lab with Joanna to check our e-mail and Facebook. Technically, we shouldn’t be doing this, but many of us don’t have access at home and bend the rules a little.

The way home can be…daunting. This is a hill I climb in the morning and skid down in the afternoon on the way to the subway station from school.

Finally, I leave you with an image that represents a lot of my time here – waiting for the darn train to show up.

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Well. That was fun.

So today I had a very interesting phone call.

From the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles.

Telling me that I had forgotten to indicate whether or not I have a criminal record on my visa application.

Some bad words, a minor heart attack, a run over to the local PostNet, and a fax declaring that I, [insert full name here], do not have a criminal record later and I think everything’s going to be okay.

I hope.

I’ll know Friday.

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