Between the Nagoya Castle post, 12 on the 12th, and the upcoming post featuring Kyoto, there are actually quite a few pictures remaining that unfortunately don’t have enough inherent ‘theme’ to get their own individual blog posts. So this one’s a bit long and ranges a bit in it’s material.
Alright, who remembers the glass roof bit from the last 12 on the 12th? The Oasis 21 building?
Anyways, we were eating lunch under it the same day we went to the castle when I looked up and was slightly alarmed to see what appeared all of the day’s rainfall collected on the roof and moving…somewhere. Further investigation proved that the water was being purposefully circulated and that there was in fact an elevator going up to the roof. We headed up there after we finished eating and Dad snapped this shot of the restaurant section of Nagoya Tower.
On Sunday, the day after we went to the castle, we headed out to Okazaki, a city to the southeast of Nagoya to meet up with the host family that I had stayed with for a few weeks in high school. I was rather excited to be travelling on a train that stayed aboveground, after having taken the subway for 40 minutes a day, 5 days a week for the past two months.
Alright, from right to left, Me (obviously), Keiko (my previous host mother), Rino (my older host sister, a 6th grader), and the boy who couldn’t seem to stop making what I think of as Sailor Moon’s trademark move whenever a camera came out. If I remember correctly, he was Rino’s “boyfriend” Ren’s younger brother. There’s also Maho, Rino’s younger sister and a 4th grader.
We met up with them at the station and they took us to where we could get lunch and talk. They were shocked by how much 2 years of college courses had improved my Japanese, which was encouraging. They seem to be going up in the world – when I was last there, Host dad was a company worker, but one of his cows won some big Shizuoka (a prefecture to the east of Aichi, where Nagoya is) cow contest and now he’s on the farm-animal-raising fast track. Go figure.
It was heartening to be reminded that I could get along with Japanese people that I had lived with.
The next weekend, on Saturday, we headed out to Inuyama, where I had spent my orientation with IES. It was cold and rainy, but the ramen from that same shop was as excellent as ever. The owners even recognized me, which was especially nice.
I have a peculiar fondness for face-on photos of myself that are a bit odd – photos where I didn’t smile or didn’t realize that my picture was being taken.
Anyways! That was taken in the courtyard of Inuyama Castle, which is definitely more ‘open’ in terms of what you can see and do, compared to the one in Nagoya. You can risk getting yourself killed on the same narrow, slippery wooden steps as the daimyo and his samurai did 400 years ago.*
Better – you can look out the same windows they did onto all the little people. We happened to be at the castle on Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3), a holiday for children at those ages. Kind of a ‘yay! you didn’t die!’ kind of celebration and one of the things that I can trace back to elementary school as peaking my interest in Japan. I didn’t see any overt festival thing going on, though there was an unusual preponderance of small-ish children wearing very good clothes wandering around.
Finally, two shots from Birthday/Dorm-Move-In-Day…
First, my birthday picture. Every year since I was born, my dad and I have taken a picture together and this marks the 22nd photo oppurtunity.
Hmm…the next picture I was planning on posting was of me in front of the sign for the dorm I’m staying in now, but I just realized that it has the address printed on it. Never mind then.
Next up – Kyoto!
*Though I didn’t manage to fall down those particular steps, it was a falling down sort of day – we were walking up to the castle when I noticed a particularly slick looking, sloped bit of sidewalk. I thought ‘that looks slippery, I should be careful,’ took a careful step…and fell flat on my bum, almost taking my dad with me.
Later that same day, I was rushing to catch a train in exactly the manner that about fifty different signs in the station were telling me not to use (in Japanese and English), tripped, and awkwardly slid down a few steps. Cripes.