sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
This trip to Kanazawa was made possible by a grant from the Awesome Mom Corporation, and by the moral support of viewers like you...

Thank you!
sechan19: (butterfly)
So, it was a little after 10pm in the guesthouse. I had finished up my travel logs (though only posted a few as of that moment), and I was thinking about packing it in for the evening. I'd walked quite a bit that day after all, I was thinking, and had another full day in the works.

And then Kayoh-san (the girl from Tokyo) came in and asked if there was any alcohol to be had. Makoto-san, who had been chatting with Toku-san and Take-san - a couple also from Tokyo - explained that he didn't have anything, and that Kayoh-san should have bought something if she wanted to drink.

"Oh, but everyone would be sleeping, I thought," she explained. (I'm not sure what the reasoning behind this statement was, honestly.) "But if you're up, is it alright if I drink? I can drink by myself if it's a problem."

"By yourself," I broke in. "That sounds lonely... like you're drinking all alone in the genkan (foyer) or something."

The idea of drinking in the genkan put everyone into a fit of laughter for some reason.

"Well, if people want to join me, why don't you give me five-hundred yen, and I'll go to the store and buy things for everybody."

And that was pretty much it for us. It occurred to me very quickly that this was an opportunity absolutely not to be missed. I asked if I could join in, handed over my money, and begin introducing myself to the other members of the nomikai (drinking party) that I hadn't yet met.

When Kayoh-san returned, she had a bottle of red wine, five big cans of beer, and some izakaya-style snacks (nuts and dried fish, etc.). Makoto-san added in some tempura treats and we were set.

The conversation veered all over the place. We talked about English idiomatic phrases, the latest digital camera technology, differences in Japanese and American beer, chopsticks etiquette, travel and travelers, the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and other things that I couldn't possibly remember. We also played a batsu game, took lots of goofy pictures, and went for a second beer run.

At about 2am, a British traveler named Richard came in from his evening out and joined us. He didn't speak any Japanese, though, so I began translating the difficult passages for everyone and running a series of conversations in tandem. Conversation topics expanded to include the difference between American and British English, what I planned to do with my graduate degree, football (soccer), and more.

We finally packed it in around 3. I gave everyone a copy of my cell number and email address, and invited them to contact me when back in the Tokyo area. Then we all stumbled off for bed, and I, for one, slept the sleep of the just. (But I suspect my compatriots did as well.)
sechan19: (anne)
The weather forecast stated that the chance of rain was gobu gobu (fifty-fifty), and though my walk down the main drag was warm and partially sunny, I saw the dark clouds on the horizon and decided that my walking tour of the castle and Kenroku park would have to wait.

I decided to knock all of my museums out in one shot. I hit the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History, The Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art, the Nakamura Museum of Art, and the Yasue Gold Leaf Museum of Kanazawa. Impressive, no?

Read the full, and I do mean full, story here. )
sechan19: (morisot)
On my first full day in Kanazawa I decided that I fancied doria for lunch, and with the unending downpour of rain I didn't want to hunt for it. So I made for a nearby shopping center and looked for their restaurant road. In a shop delightfully located on the eighth floor and boasting a gorgeous view of the surrounding autumn colors, I sat myself down by the window and waited for the waiter.

He arrived quickly, if furtively, with a glass of ice water, and an apologetic smile. "This menu's only in Japanese," he murmured (perhaps to himself).

"Oh, that's quite alright," I told him.

"My goodness, you speak Japanese!" he exclaimed. "Oh, I'm so sorry. That was terribly rude of me!"

I assured him that it was quite alright. It was a safe enough assumption to make, after all. Although it was an assumption and therefore dangerous. (As I discovered myself quite recently.) I appreciated his apology, though. It was sweet of him.

He took very good care of me throughout the meal, and when I was finished and went to pay we had another brief exchange.

I asked if it was alright to pay with a 10,000 yen note (the equivalent of about $100... well, not right now, but you get the idea).

"Of course, it's fine," he said. "Boy, you sure surprised me earlier. Your Japanese is so good!"

"Not at all," I declined. But then, mindful of Tomono-sensei's previous shock, I tacked on a brief "but thank you very much for saying so."

Playing against type sure is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Full accounts of my travels in Kanazawa to follow. Stay tuned...
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
An amusing exchange took place between myself and a gaggle of middle-school boys at the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History today.

As I walked past the group, thinking to myself that it was time to hightail it out of the building now that the school groups were starting to show up, I overhead a voice say, "Hey there."

I turned around and found myself looking back at a pack of fourteen-year-old males, who were all grinning and shuffling and punching one another on the shoulder. The boy who presumably had called to me sketched a little salute and said, "Hello." I sketched one back, saying "Hello" as I did. This put them all into a little frenzy of excitement.

So I decided to be evil.

I walked straight up to the boy who'd called me, saying (in Japanese) "Do you speak English?"

"Oh my god, she's fluent!" one of the boys standing next to him exclaimed. (He used the same tone of voice one might employ to express the realization that someone was radioactive.)

"Uh, one more time please," the first boy asked, somewhat sheepishly.

I repeated my question.

"No, I don't speak English," he said.

"Oh," I said. "Your pronunciation of 'hello' was very good, so I thought you did."

This set off another frenzy. "Oh my god, she just praised him! What's he gonna do now?"

The boy expressed his thanks, then noted that it was strange to be complimented by me. I relented then and apologized.

"You boys have fun now," I admonished.

"We will," they chorused back to me, as I headed for the exit. (Because it's best to make a quick escape after teasing the wildlife. ;>) I suspect they'll all be talking about it for days.
sechan19: (kusama)
After my adventures on the JR trains, I got into Kanazawa at about 3:15 and headed straight for the guest house (with a brief and profitable stop at the station tourist information center).

It was raining heavily, but even the gray skies couldn't marr the splendor of the Kanazawa Station's East Exit. The entire plaza is overhung by a vast, and stunningly modern, canopy of glass and steel. A network of escalators connects the ground floor with the underground plaza, surrounded by a two-storey water fountain.

I'm not sure what I expected of the station, but that wasn't it. I was impressed.

Finding the guest house was easy, and it was mercifully close to the station. Even still, I got soaked. I was warmly welcomed by the proprietor, Makoto-san, who gave me the tour, let me settle in, and then checked me in when I was ready.

I checked some email and things, made a little plan for the following day, and then decided to find some dinner.

I didn't want to wander around aimlessly in search of food, so I went back to the station. Large train stations in Japan almost invariably have restaurants, and Kanazawa didn't disappoint. (And really, after that East Exit how could it have?)

I had unagi-don (grilled eel over rice) and a tall glass of beer, both of which just hit the spot. I took my time over the meal, which included miso and sunomono, and finished up with a leisurely cup of tea.

Back at the guesthouse, I worked on homework and then joined in a nice hour of Japanese conversation with Makoto-san and a couple of the other guests (a girl from Dusseldorf and a girl from Tokyo). Then it was bedtime, and a comfy-cosy futon awaited. I snuggled in and fell right asleep.

Note: This entry has been backdated to preserve continuity.

May 2014

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