golden week っぽい

Japan’s Golden Week is a series of bank holidays that are designed to let basically everyone in the country get more or less than a week of time off from work.  Then everyone travels.  All at the same time.


But I didn’t travel, I stayed in Fukuoka.  Which was kind of nice, actually, because I got to see a different side of Fukuoka–the one that is full of  a zillion more people than normal.

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mary poppins would be proud.

I taught the japanese kids in my class how to say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” last night.  and they still remembered it today!



ipod photo cache dump!

its almost like eating at the fat duck!

So I learned about this craziness a few months before coming to japan–casto and I really wanted to try it since it’s like molecular gastronomy for kids!  One day I was browsing a random grocery store and stumbled upon the motherload of POPPIN’ COOKIN! SUSHI MAKER! kits.  Of course I bought 3.  I had dinner with my friend Lily the night I bought these, so obviously I had to try making one.  She thought I was nuts.  Rightfully so because these things taste GODAWFUL.  But they’re fun to make…

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blogging is hard!  here’s part 1 of an update of my life:

march 12-23 I was at a conference for architecture and urban design in takahashi city, okayama prefecture.  it was the most intense week and a half of architecture and urban planning I’ve ever experienced, but it was good.  I learned a lot, made lots of friends, and sang a lot of karaoke.

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Sorry it’s been awhile–I haven’t taken many good pictures lately and I don’t like making text-only posts.

But let’s see.  Last week was relatively uneventful until Friday when Lily, a post-grad student from China who works in the architecture department office, took me under her wing and introduced me to her other Kyudai (short name for Kyushu University) international friends.  We had some time before we went to the yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers) restaurant for dinner, so we went bowling at this place across from university.  It had this big box with a guy inside cleaning shoes and if you put money in the slot for your shoe size, a pair of shoes would tumble out like a candy bar from a vending machine.  It is true–there really are vending machines for everything here.

So we went bowling.  Most of the finger holes on the lighter bowling balls were too small for my fat American fingers, so I ended up with a ball that was probably too heavy for me, but for some reason that didn’t matter.  I was bowling like a pro!  I have never gotten so many spares/strikes in a bowling game in my life!  Considering I managed to bowl a 1 during my last game in the States, my skills had improved dramatically in 6 months with no opportunities to practice.

Then I started to think about it.  The lane seemed awfully narrow….and extremely short.  This bowling alley was probably less than half the size of a normal American alley.  No wonder I was bowling so well!

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Yay internet!  It was a little strange feeling so disconnected the past few days; though I was never alone for very long.

I guess I should start from the beginning.

You know how when you’re sitting in the airport at the gate and you see some person that you’d really like to sit next to on the plane because said person looks interesting or attractive, yet you absolutely never end up sitting next to that person?

An old friend from high school, Sam Davis, sat next to me on the flight from D.C. to Tokyo, entirely by coincidence.  Of course, at first I thought he didn’t immediately say hello/start talking to me because he was trying to ignore me.  He thought I just looked really familiar and didn’t want to say anything in case I wasn’t who he thought I was, which would make the rest of the 14 hour flight really awkward.  Finally we figured it out and it was all good.  Sam is quite fluent in Japanese and was going to Tokyo on business, so I was extremely lucky to have him and his friend Kenji with me to talk to the airport personnel when our flight was late arriving to Narita and I had about 20 minutes to get my bags (of course they were the last to come down the baggage claim chute), go through customs, recheck the bags, go through security, and get to the gate in an airport I had never been to before.  It felt nice to run after having been on a plane for the past 17+ hours, but it was not particularly enjoyable.

But the fact that Sam was on that flight AND ended up sitting next to me is probably the biggest coincidence of my life to date.  Thank you, ANA.

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48 hours from now I’ll be on a 777 en route to Narita International Airport.  Holy crap!  I can’t believe it’s actually happening.  I’ve been working to get this arranged for nearly 1.5 years and I’m just so thrilled I really get to go.

Packing sucks though.  It’s probably one of my least favorite activities, maybe because I have a hard time paring down the things I want to take with me to a manageable amount.  I’ve never packed for 6 months in 2 suitcases before, so it’ll be interesting to find out what I end up using and what is completely useless.

I bought a ton more random gift things too.  Ghiradelli brownie mix (best brownie mix EVER), Reese’s Cups, Hershey’s bars, Big League Chew (bahaha), god knows what else.  Oh, and my Aunt Susan and Uncle Chris gave me a ton of Reebok/other t-shirts for gifts, but there’s no way they’re going to fit in my luggage as of now.  Thank god for USPS Flat Rate Boxes.

In other news, today I passed the age where certain birthdays mean something fun and exciting happens–well, I guess at 25 I can rent a car, so that’ll be marginally exciting.  Now I am officially an Adult.  I’m not sure I feel ready for it, but I’m off to have a Grand Adventure, so I suppose I better start being ready right quick.

P.S: The yen is falling ever so slightly against the dollar (it’s about time!); current exchange is 83.86 jpy to 1 usd.  Yay!

To give some perspective, in 2007 the exchange rate was about 120 jpy to 1 usd.