Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Antics of the Drunk and Sober

So, to begin, allow me to explain. Electronic dictionaries cost around $200 dollars and they only do a limited amount. Also, they don’t have a touch pad, usually. So, to fill my need for a dictionary, and take advantage of the favorable exchange rate right now, I bought a Nintendo DS and a dictionary program. Now I have a dictionary with wireless that has a touch screen and I can buy other software for. And at a lower than average price since Nintendo probably sells the units at bellow cost to make a profit on the games. Probably the most expensive thing I will buy in Japan, but I needed a dictionary. That is what I spent most of Tuesday doing.

Then, Tuesday night, we had a party for Mori-mori, who seems to be one of the most senior of the tutors. Unfortunately the party started at 7, and he wasn’t supposed to arrive until 10. We made takoyaki, a Kansai regional dish, shown here.

Here is what it looks like when finished. If you pop this whole thing in your mouth right off the grill it can be quite hot. It does taste good though. Anyway, by 8:30 we had all eaten, by 9 o’clock 50% of us were totally smashed due to the small amount of food we had been given (I didn’t drink). By 10 the dorm father had to be walked home because he was too drunk to stand. At 10:20 Mori-mori arrived and had cake thrown in his face. The party got strange from there. Two Ryukoku baseball players showed up. One of the guys was pretty funny, and I would have thought he was hilarious if he hadn’t kept pretending to trip and then grabbing my crotch. That was more than a little awkward. I don’t know if it is just the baseball team or Japanese culture in general, but there seems to be much greater tolerance for behavior that Americans would consider “gay”. Although there is probably another layer to this. Anyway, he spoke no English, but we discovered he was the closing pitcher for the university team. He then proposed an American vs. Japanese arm wrestling contest. We grabbed Adam (whose sport is fencing), who had no idea what was going on and made him arm wrestle. The match went on for 5 minutes, and was close on both sides. It astonished us greatly when in the end Adam won. I told him later that he beat the second string pitcher, probably one of the strongest members of the baseball team. After this, the pitcher was not in such a good mood, but we made our best efforts to cheer him up.

The next day after class I decided to go to Kyoto. I had heard there was a monkey park and I wanted to go. I asked few people, but only Eric, Mary and Kari decided to come along. I promised them that if they didn’t see any monkeys I would act like a monkey and they could take pictures. This is Kyoto station. It is like a cathedral and is the nicest station I have seen in Japan. There are 4 shopping malls and one hotel inside the station. Also, it you go to the 12th floor you can see all of Kyoto from above.

We took a train to something-yama (as I will call it since I have totally forgotten the name). We then disembarked and walked for 15 minutes until we got to this area. The signs are for temples, and there was an entire city block that was nothing but temples. Also, great lotus ponds.

And in the middle of the temples was this shrine.

Sadly, the temple charged a high admission price, and the Zen rock garden also charged a high separate admission, so we did not go into either. Instead, we just hung around the front and took pictures of these rocks.

We left the temples and ventured over to the monkey park, which we were pleased actually existed, but not pleased that you had to pay a high admission fee, hike to the top of a mountain and had no guarantee of seeing monkeys. But we took this picture anyway.

We then discovered this sign farther along the path. If I had known that the monkeys shoot flame out of their butt I would have definitely paid for admission. Maybe some other time I can see the majestic fire-butt monkey in the wild.

So, monkeys having not been seen, I fulfilled my promise.

We searched the area for hot springs for a while and wandered in the small town of something-yama. The town is entirely very high class restaurants, Ryokans, private homes and souvenir shops. Apparently there is also white water rafting, and we may be going back. However, we also saw some very tough looking men in suits get out of a car and go into a tea house, so we don’t know if we’ll be spending too much time there.

We returned to Kyoto and went to Starbucks. Coffee in Japan is apparently very weak and sweet. The coffee that we American students here have made was found appallingly disgusting by the Japanese tutors. Thus, most of my small party had to go to Starbucks to get some real coffee. We then walked to Higashi-honji Temple, the temple that founded Ryukoku university. Huge temple.

The main wooden structure, however, was being refurbished, so it had been encased in a warehouse to keep it safe.

We went in. The main hall was silent, since we found out later it was past closing time. It was dark, with the smell of wood. Very creepy.

After visiting the temple we returned to Kyoto station, let the girls shop a little, ate some alright food served by a really rude waitress and ate fabulous waffles. It was then that I tried fresh Kiwi juice. Please take heed. Do not drink Kiwi juice unless it is strained. When they blend the Kiwi the seeds are fractured and made sharp. The sensation is interesting. It feels like drinking sand. The bad part is, after drinking the Kiwi juice my throat hurt all night because of the tiny scratches left by the seed shards.

All in all, great two days.


Mom said...

Cool temples. I imagine Trenton as monkey was actually more entertaining than real monkeys anyway.

DaD said...

Let me know if the seeds exit OK

Trenton said...

Yeah, about the exit thing...
Due to the fact that I have not been eating small ammounts of healthy food and have been walking an average of 4 1/2 hours a day, not much has been exiting.

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