Things which will be missed by me

Monday, 23 June 2008

Thursday, 19 June 2008, 04.30 pm JST

sotd: 宇多田ヒカル, Prisoner of Love
cotd: R35 Nissan GT-R Premium Edition

So although this blog has basically been left on a freezing wintry mountain to die a pathetically miserable death, there are still ways to see what I’ve been up to. Here is probably the easiest, and even then it may not make many of you out there into fans.

1. Go to my other website. The one that has pictures.
2. Bookmark it.
3. Wait several months for me to upload newer pictures.

Well, there you go. I thought it pretty simple, too, now that you mention it.

With exactly fifty days left in the increasingly sweltering heat in this country, and exactly fifty days until I return simultaneously to my country, my state, my city, my (parents’) house, and my room, I thought it fitting to make a passing reference to small parts of this country that I’ll miss instantly upon surrender of my gaijin card to the faceless, nameless immigration official. (Well, forty-six days now as I didn’t publish this post immediately.)

1. Expressways

This only comes up first because I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) recently within the jurisdiction of the Nippon Expressway Company, and will probably be pouring more such time and money into their coffers over the next couple of weeks as I try to extract the maximum amount of touring possible before permanently returning to that little island in the middle of the ocean where road trip means covering the entire circumference of O’ahu in two hours. It’s not that I particularly care paying the exorbitant rates that increase proportionate to distance traveled, but it’s made for bullet-like point A to point B travel in getting Kristine and me to all corners of the Kansai region, and even OTHER ISLANDS OF JAPAN like Shikoku and Kyushu. Plus, service areas rock my socks.

[This entire section can also be applied to trains. Haven’t ridden much of those lately, though.]

2. Melon everything

Like balls of melon ice cream and Fanta Melon Soda. A taste unlike anything previously encountered, and which will be hard to come by after going home. Though there are goods of the kind imported directly to Daiei, they only bring in the cheap, unmentionable stuff, and so it is not worth lavishing my time on here. At least we get real Calpis, expensive as that also is.

3. JDM

Despite coming with funny names like Toyota Ractis and Honda Stepwgn (and really, those are two of the tamer ones), Japanese Domestic Market cars come with ten times the goodies cars in America do (including cars from these very Japanese companies!) and for the best prices possible (since, of course, they don’t have to export them anywhere). With features like automatic power-folding mirrors and 50GB hard drive-based user-updatable navigation systems available on even the smallest, most anemic cars, I’m a SUV and fullsize truck-averse citizen of the USDM wishing I could uproot and take the entire JDM back with me. Except kei cars. Those can stay.

4. Sending e-mail by cell phone

And no, I don’t mean that to include more limited SMS text messaging services that the few readers of this site may be more familiar with. I’m talking about sending real e-mails from a real e-mail address with @ and all to any other e-mail address on the planet FROM THE PALM OF MY HAND. Virtually identical to your gmail or hotmail. I guess I don’t mind using a phone to talk (actually, that’s not true…I don’t really care for talking on the phone, necessary and emergency situations aside), but being able to type out a message in seconds, send it off, and wait for the other party to respond with a similar text-based message in due time while carrying on with your day is real nice. Sure, there are inconveniences given the limitations of a cell phone keypad, but the portability can’t be beat. Another thing which I won’t be able to do once home. Not for a while, anyway.

5. Japanese bookstores

Filled with so much knowledge and information that Japanese people themselves can’t be bothered with (Why read about history or literature when you can read manga instead?…but sorry, that’s a topic for another day), bookstores in Japan are my one-stop shop for car periodicals (of course), domestic travel information, 漢字検定 practice books, and recently even Japanese legal volumes. Not that wallet-killing trips to bookstores are nothing new for me, but I sure will miss the vastness of J-bookstores and the impeccable ability of Japanese bookstore clerks to wrap (for free, mind you) your novels and other paperbacks in 4.7 seconds, no questions asked. Surely, there’s nothing there that I can’t or don’t already find via the internets, but hey, I’m a dork. Those who wish to doubt or make fun of me and my books will not be receiving invitations to the future Leong Library.

Five is a nice round number, so I’m stopping here. Plus any more time I spend investing in this first blog entry in months may push it back until after I get back to Hawaii. So I hope you enjoyed. Pray for another entry, if you so desire it.


Blogging (sort of) from Kristine’s house

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Saturday, 29 September 2007, 12.15 am JST

sotd: 宇多田ヒカル、Beautiful World
cotd: ZSP110 Toyota ist 180G

After a year (plus) of living in Japan, Kristine finally decided to bring her humble abode out of the digital stone age and recently decided to sign up for broadband internet through SoftBank‘s Yahoo! BB service.

Although it came to the house on Wednesday, it was not properly set up until Friday night when I arrived at Kristine’s apartment for the weekend. Why the two-minute installation process had to wait until I came is a mystery, but now we can do things like blogging and watching too many YouTube videos from the comfort of her bedroom.

That’s all for now. Real posts still forthcoming. Maybe.


ごめん。

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 10.00 am JST

sotd: Clazziquai Project, Come To Me (Mellotron Remix)
cotd: TNT31 Nissan X-Trail 25X 4WD

Summer is over. (The vacation, but definitely not the weather.) School has begun. I know I haven’t written anything new in all that time, so once again, my apologies. I’m also still behind on organizing my Fotki pictures. Summer vacation has enabled me to catch up a great deal, but even on that site I’ve caught up only to the beginning of our Shikoku trip.

As always, for more regular updates, go to Kristine’s blog. It comes complete with pictures.

In the meantime, I will try to catch up as best as I can and maybe even have something worth looking at here. Perhaps shorter, easier to write posts are in order, so look forward to some experimenting with that in the near future.

 Kthxbye.


DJ, play that music louder, お願い

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Thursday, 26 July 2007, 11.00 am JST

sotd: m-flo loves melody. and 山本領平, miss you
cotd: MHU38 Toyota Harrier Hybrid L

For the first time on this blog, I’m going to recap events of last weekend as a photoblog. It’s what sites like these are meant for, and it’s about time I got on top of things. Good thing I’ve got all the pictures uploaded.

Friday, July 20

Our epic journey begins, like most, with my customary 1.5-hour drive to Miki. After getting dinner, Kristine and I showered, cleaned, and finished packing, before heading out in the muggy rain to Shijimi Station. Roughly 60 minutes later, we walked into the Sannomiya Bus Terminal, joining our travel companions Heather and Dylan. Boarding the awfully cramped, slightly uncomfortable 青春ドリーム bus at 10:00, we were off for the Great Kanto Plain. Our only relief from the bus came around midnight, when we pulled into the Kusatsu Parking Area of the Meishin Expressway in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture. Hooray for Mini Stop.


Yo yo yo highway style.

Saturday, July 21

At approximately 7:30 in the morning, feeling not at all rested, we thus arrived at the one, the only, JR Tokyo Station.


Ah, city life.

From here, our two couples split up, Kristine and I opting to shoot immediately for Ikebukuro and reunite with a long-lost love: Burger King.


Three minutes before we Had It Our Way.

Remembering that the point of our trip was not to camp out in the middle of Tokyo sprawl, we jumped back on the train and headed for Yokohama.


Ta-da.

Swiftly escaping from the mess of the underground exit, we passed through Sogo and headed over the pedestrian walkway to the Yokohama Bay Quarter.


This generic facade belies the plethora of Hawaiiana inside.

Once there, we immediately found ourselves drawn to the smell of fresh-baked malasadas, courtesy of this odd-looking Ford van:

And then we chowed down:


We even had lunch at a place with stuff like this:

Afterwards, we headed to Sakuragicho to find our hotel:

And then set off for the Yokohama Arena:

To rock out for three straight hours with thousands of our best friends to m-flo and almost everyone who’s appeared in the Loves series.

Afterwards we walked down the street to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, to have some ramen:

And show off our shirts:

And then we took the subway back to our hotel and slept very well.

Sunday, July 22

After we checked out of our hotel, we started with breakfast at Cafe de Crie.

We then went to Chinatown:

Where we saw this giant temple in the middle of everything:

And met this crazy-looking guy:


Lovely.

After grabbing a reasonable buffet lunch in Chinatown, we walked over to the Motomachi shopping area to see the shops:

And head up the hill to the Yamate area (read: Foreigner Area) to see some of the old buildings and lookouts.


山手十番館

We also got to see Taka’s school, St. Maur International School.

And after that, we walked over to the 港の見える丘公園 (Minato no Mieru Oka Koen, Park on the Hill from which you can see the Bay):


The Yokohama Bay Bridge.

And after that, we came back down towards the bay to see 山下公園 (Yamashita Park) and enjoy the bay for a bit:


Shipping container art.


The Hikawa Maru.

 At the end of the park we came upon this curiosity:


I was at a loss for words.

Inside, Taka demonstrates about 57 reasons why this kind of establishment could not exist in America:


Yeah, that’s a gin and tonic he’s holding in front of the kids’ playground.

After that delightful stop, we made our way to the 横浜赤レンガ倉庫, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses. Originally constructed as a symbol of the modernization and development of the port of Yokohama, today they are nothing but. . . a shopping mall.

After this, we headed back to Sakuragicho area, where we got to see the famous graffitti wall that is located on the back side of the station.

After viewing the wall, we got one last look at the Landmark Tower

And then pretty much headed back to Tokyo.

Having been taken back by Taka to Yurakucho, one of the “locals” areas of Tokyo, we wandered around a bit until finally settling in at a pretty awesome yakitori stand.


Yum.

We also went [were taken] to Hub, this time the Yurakucho branch.


Oh dear.

From there, we left, Taka heading back to his house, and the two of us heading back to Tokyo Station to get on the cramped, uncomfortable 青春ドリーム神戸号 night bus. All in all though, an incredibly AMAZING weekend. And hey: yay for pictures.  All the above and more can be found here.


But now, for some real traveling.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Friday, 20 July 2007, 02.00 pm JST

sotd: m-flo loves Crystal Kay, Love Don’t Cry
cotd: GH8 Subaru Impreza S-GT Sport Package

Today, Friday, July 20: End of the first term of the school year.

Tonight: We will be on a bus to Tokyo Station, then heading to Yokohama to partake in the bound to be absolutely amazing m-flo Cosmicolor finale show at Yokohama Arena.

Gods.

 

More later. Like, after we come back.


Time To Get Packing

Friday, 13 July 2007

Friday, 13 July 2007, 04.00 pm JST

sotd: Clazziquai Project, Fill This Night
cotd: ZRR70 Toyota Voxy ZS

Apparently we’re going to China. Who knew?


Cosmicolored

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 12.30 pm JST

sotd: m-flo loves 日之内絵美 & Ryohei, Summer Time Love
cotd: ZRT260 Toyota Allion A18 S

For this time, I have three big events to report on.

1. Kristine’s family came to Japan. After roughly ten or so months of living in the Japanese ee-naw-kah (countryside, in English), with only ourselves, a few other gaijins, and even fewer English-speaking Nee-hawn-jins (Japanese peoples), suddenly we had an entire weekend with people we knew from Before Japan. Five of them, no less!

Since Kristine’s site already has a much more in-depth description of the weekend than I need to include, I should just say that it was nice to see them–ALL of them!–and show them around some of our oft-visited areas.


Yay for pictures!

 

2. m-flo had a concert in Osaka, and we went to it. No kidding. With an odyssey that started in March, coinciding with the release of m-flo’s latest and greatest, “Cosmicolor,” we managed to snag some tickets to their live concert on June 16 at Zepp Osaka. Because words cannot describe seeing my most favoritest musical group ever live, I will only say (1) my sole reason for coming to Japan has been fulfilled, (2) the tour finale in Yokohama which we will be going to next month will rock a hundred million times harder, and (3) it was absolutely ヤバイ.

Cosmicolor

 

3. For the first time ever, my entire house is clean. And for once, I’m totally serious. Granting a few loose articles left on the floor and not owning a vacuum cleaner, Kristine and I over the course of one Saturday (we originally budgeted both Saturday and Sunday to the effort) managed to clean practically the entire interior of my house, including the upstairs balcony, downstairs front and rear entrances, bathroom, toilet, and all rooms, AND THEN moved a whole ton of crap around until it morphed into an altogether much more suitable living arrangement with a general feeling of openness and organization.

But? No pictures on this one. At least not yet. Once I clean the rest of the books off the floor I may get around to that.

 

To come: summer in Japan, and the horrors of obtaining a Japanese driver’s license.


Epiphany Achieved

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Thursday, 28 June 2007, 08.30 pm JST

sotd: Monkey Majik + Yoshida Brothers, Change
cotd: FD2 Honda Civic Type-R

Alright. To the P.C.-inclined, close your eyes and hold your breath for a few minutes.

So…I have learned today that I am a retard.

While signing into my Fotki to look over some stuff, I finally saw a link detailing how to link Fotki-hosted pictures onto any blog or other website. Now, this makes sense, right? Even on my part, for the longest time I couldn’t imagine that such an organized, well-put-together site as Fotki couldn’t have a mechanism in place to link pictures into the outbound direction to blogs, by now the most common way to communicate, inform, and share with the world.

Indeed, what I was trying to do months ago, that is to take the URL of my uploaded pictures and plug them into my WordPress posts, ended up not working. At all. What I have learned is that Fotki provides a pre-prepared URL to let the pictures be linked. It takes a couple more links into sections that aren’t obvious up front, but now that I have discovered it, definitely expect to see pictures from here on out (you know, for the 2 or 3 posts I may write before I leave JET).

Moral of the story? There’s no way for me to do things the way I want, in fact I must conform to Fotki’s slightly unusual system of linking. If you’re thinking this sounds pretty Japanese, I do agree, but I doubt Fotki has any Japanese origins or connections. Just my overactive imagination trying to make up for a sad, sad mistake. It’ll take a few more clicks and a lot more time, but hopefully the result should be worth it.

 

So again, next time: pictures.

 

See you again!


Super Hyper Total Catch-Up

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 03.15 pm JST

sotd: Teriyaki Boyz feat. Kanye West, I Still Love H.E.R.
cotd: GDB Subaru Impreza WRX STI Spec.C Type RA-R

So. I think we can reasonably conclude that my experiment in blogging has failed pretty miserably. [Don’t worry. This isn’t an annoucement that I’m shutting the site down or anything.] But, in my attempts to live Japan up as much as possible, I’ve constantly been anywhere from weeks to months behind in my relating of happenings. Therefore, this post is devoted to a true bullet-point attempt to talk about events since the beginning of year. Check my picture site, since it can describe things better than I can, and imagine that I’m right along side you, offering my boring narration to the visual goodies offered there.

Picking up from where I left off last time:

 January 1: 2007 スタート!

January 4: Back to work. >.<

January 8: Ono Drive.

January 18-January 19: Hyogo JET Mid-Year Conference

January 20: Birthday party in Osaka for Kelly and Brenda.

January 26: Went to Miki. Picked up Kristine and came back to Tamba.

January 27: In Tamba. Yaitei (yakiniku!) with Dylan and Heather.

January 28: Nishiwaki Drive.

February 2: Snow Day!

February 3: Costco trip.

February 4: Hyogo Prefecture High School Volleyball Tournament (in Kobe)

February 10: Spent the afternoon in Sannomiya.

February 11 and February 12: Osaka Auto Messe 2007 (at Intex Osaka on Nanko Island)

February 17 and February 18: Okayama Road Trip

February 24: Went to Osaka. Yodobashi Camera, El Pancho, and the Hyogo AJET “Valentine Party”

February 25: Back to Tamba for Hikami’s graduation ceremony.

February 26: Izushi Day.

February 27-March 10 (roughly): Sickness.

March 11: Taking a ride on the 三木鉄道 (Miki Railway) and exploring Kakogawa.

March 13: Dinner with Laurence at Steak One (first time we had gotten together in a while)

March 17: To Sannomiya for one last romp at Star Child’s.

March 19: Had to reinstall Windows since my computer decided to crash while I had been sick.

March 21-March 25: Nagoya Trip (including my day at Toyota Headquarters)

March 26: We meet Howard in Kobe during his Spring Break trip to Japan

March 29: Dinner with Dylan at Gusto (again, first time in a while)

March 31: Hanshin Tigers vs. Hiroshima Carp at Kyocera Dome Osaka. Dinner in the Okinawan district afterwards.

April 1: Using the Seishun 18 ticket to make stops in the JR Himeji, JR Akashi, and JR Kobe areas.

April 2-April 3: Kristine came up to Tamba outside the normal weekend pattern. Discovered Para Para in Sasayama for the first time.

April 7: Visiting Kyoto (read: JUMBO.) to finish up our Seishun 18 tickets. A dash back to Kobe for Kristine’s school party. I got to go to the nijikai immediately after.

April 8: Kyoto again: the Imperial Palace, Maruyama Park, and the Kyoto Botanical Garden (sakura light-up).

April 9: First day of the new school year. 着任式 (ceremony to welcome new teachers and office staff), 始業式 (ceremony to mark the beginning of a new term), 入学式 (ceremony to welcome the new first-year students).

April 10: 離任式 (ceremony to say goodbye to the retiring and transferred teachers and office staff), 歓送迎会 (party to say goodbye to the departing teachers and office staff and welcome the incoming teachers and office staff) in Kaibara.

April 12: Dinner with Laurence at Sukiya.

April 13: Went to Miki to pick up Kristine, back to Tamba for a school party.

April 14: After stopping at youme town, we visit the Harima Chuo Park and then head back to Miki.

April 21: Stayed in Miki during the day, but at night drove to Seishin (Nishi-ku, Kobe) for the first time and had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.

April 22: Drove to the Aeon Kobe Kita Shopping Center. Stayed there all day. ALL DAY.

April 23: Took a nap after work for three hours. It was nice.

May 3: Cleaned up almost all of Kristine’s house in one go. Don’t think I have any pictures though.

May 6: Went to Ono Saty for the first time. Confirmed our fuddy-duddyness.

May 11: Kristine came up to Tamba again. Enjoyed Para Para again.

May 12: Had to go to work for PTA day. That night: Maison Ikkoku.

May 13: Drive through Tamba, Fukuchiyama, Asago, Kanzaki District, and eventually ending up at Ono Saty.

May 14: 代休. Spent it in Miki.

May 16: Met Dylan at McDonald’s and had one of the most important conversations since I’ve been in Japan. Details to appear on this site soon.

May 18: 歓送迎会 for outgoing second-year and new third-year teachers. Don’t try to understand it. Spent the rest of the night at Mihara sensei’s bodacious pad.

May 19: Drove down to Miki, and then together went to Costco. I also got to see a Japanese version of Carrefour for the first time.

May 24: Met Dylan at Sukiya for dinner. More important discussion.

May 25: Kristine came up to Tamba again. Dinner at Para Para!

May 26-May 27: Anniversary Road Trip to Amanohashidate. Overnight stay at a ridiculous ryokan. Drove back through Yosano Town (京都府与謝野町) and found a couple more 道の駅 (Michi no ekis? Michis no eki?)

May 28-May 30: Recontracting Conference for all JETs in Western Japan, held at the Kobe Portopia Hotel.

June 2: Drove to Seishin again. Spent the day at Plenty Mall. Came back to Miki for dinner at sushi, which we haven’t had for a while.

June 3: Dinner BBQ at Jason’s house, followed by Sunday night karaoke at Dolphin.

June 4: Indulged in a nice three-hour nap after work.

June 6: Today.

Man, one need only look at April 9 and April 10 to realize why nothing ever gets accomplished here.


年末年始

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 12.00 pm JST

sotd: 柴崎コウ, actuality
cotd: TU31 Nissan Presage 250 Highway Star J

In English, there is no succinct way to explain the concept expressed by the 4-character kanji phrase 年末年始. This is not to say that I or others do not understand what it means. Upon sight alone, the meaning is obvious. With only the slightest knowledge of kanji, we can see that it means year-end-year-begin, and if you can read them, you will see that this phrase says ねんまつねんし (nen matsu nen shi). When, exactly, it begins and when, exactly, it ends is not clearly defined, but to render it in English, we must say “the end of the year and the beginning of the year.” Two different years, of course, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year. In English, 11 words (13 in my additional explanation). In Japanese, 4 characters, and 2 of them are the same character. This conciseness, I believe, is symbolic of the importance that the Japanese attach to the coming and beginning of a new year.

The beginning period of a new year is full of 新年の挨拶 (new year’s greetings), 年賀状 (new year’s cards), 初詣 (new year’s prayers, lit. first prayer), 初夢 (new year’s dreams, lit. first dream), 初日 (first sunrise), etc. etc.

For Kristine and me, there was somewhere between little to none of that. -_-‘ Having been exhausted physically and financially from the Tokyo and Kansai components of our winter vacation, we spent the last hours of December 31, and then January 1, 2, and 3 (the 4th brought the resumption of work) in almost complete rest.

BUT, there were high points too. December 31, the last day of the year, meant the live broadcast of the NHK紅白歌合戦 (the Red and White Song Contest, or more simply, Kohaku). Yes, LIVE on NHK, as in, not a couple days delayed on KIKU-TV. It was amazing. To prepare, we gathered up food and drink from the Miki Co-op, including a whole party platter, came home, warmed up food, set up shop, and Kohaku’d the night away. Granted, we took bathroom breaks and got food and did other such things during the enka numbers, but all in all it was an enjoyable show.

On New Year’s Day, we mostly stayed in, relaxed, made curry for dinner (初カレー?), and watched more new year television.

Fast forward to the 4th, when it was finally time for me to return to Tamba, and indeed, to work. It was almost a disappointment. I think the vice principal, Taniguchi sensei, and myself were the only individuals present. Everyone else probably took holidays to extend their New Year’s vacations, I imagine. At any rate, it was pretty quiet in the 職員室. The second day back, Friday the 5th, marked a marginal increase in the amount of teachers present, and it also meant that I would be climbing a mountain. No, really. With no warning whatsoever, the vice principal told me that we would be going up 城山 (Shiroyama, home to the the ruins of the old Kuroi Castle 黒井城 which used to exist in this area). And we did, me and him plus Ido sensei and three of the 上陸 (track and field) girls. Once to the top (I’ll skip over the unbearable agony that came in between), I had fairly impressive views of the valley in which my sleepy town lies. Once down, I went to lunch with some fellow teachers and then left early to head to Miki. Pretty much as soon as Kristine was finished with work, we hopped on the train and rode into Sannomiya, where after some confusion and a few calls, we met up with Azumi, one of my comrades from the Fall 2005 CET Beijing Language Program. Because, you know, I like reunions. We talked over dinner at the Thai restaurant until we had to go back to the station so that she could go home, and then afterwards Kristine and I went to Tokyu Hands. For what, I don’t remember. Then we went home.

After a pretty quiet weekend at home, on Monday the 8th (成年の日, Coming of Age Ceremony Day–yay random holidays), Kristine and I did the first of what I hope to be many ドライブ trips. Essentially a katakana-ized version of the English word “drive,” a ドライブ can cover any reasonable distance and amount of time and would be roughly equivalent to what we call a road trip. For this one we stayed reasonably close, using a guidebook I had picked up earlier from Kristine’s local bookstore. This was to be our day to explore 北播磨 (Kita-Harima, the part of Hyogo north of Kobe and south of Tamba, which includes Miki). Most of what we saw was in Ono City (兵庫県小野市), which borders Miki to the north. Our first stop came at the site of castle ruins, Kanatsurube Castle, a smallish minor(?) castle in the middle of Ono. After some wandering around and lots of pictures of Ono, which unremarkably looks the same as every part of this area, we moved to the Jodoji Temple, which is not only a national treasure on its own, but also contains a mini-henro. The 遍路 (henro) is a very traditional Buddhist pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku which takes the pilgrim through 88 temples after the pattern of Kobo Daishi, who first brought the Shingon sect of Buddhism to Japan (specifically, Mount Koya in Wakayama) from China. I know personally two people who have completed the pilgrimage, both on foot, no less. You can imagine my surprise when I searched for henro via Google and found this interesting article. Yeah, I know him! And chances are, some of you do too! The other one posted his results here. Anyway, all said and done we took about half an hour to complete the mini course and then were off for lunch.

Located at one of the intersections along Route 175, I had always seen そろばん亭 (Soroban-Tei, soroban = abacus), but had never ventured inside, not knowing whether it was a restaurant or a meeting hall of some kind. But this was to be its day. And a good thing, for it turned out to be a katsu restaurant, and man was I in the mood for some good katsu. After this, we took a romp through the ひまわりの丘公園 (Himawari no Oka Park), but soon gave up on account of the fierce winds and mostly child-age population. After this we stopped at the Ono Public Library and browsed around for a couple hours, eventually emerging into the dusk of that chilly January day and heading back towards Miki. Yay ドライブ. An auspicious start to what I hope becomes much in the way of touring around Japan.

And then the third semester began at school. (Third Semester? What Strange Place is this?)