Friday, October 28, 2005

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Well, I have been in Japan for exactly a week now, and I still cannot use contractions because I still have not found the apostrophre on the Japanese keyboard. Though I have had a chance to watch the Nippon Series (their equivalent of our World Series) and some pretty exciting Japanese TV while I was laid up in bed with a fever. Yeah, I finally got sick. But unlike Alec, Marissa, Andrea (twice) and Steve, I did not get food poisoning, just a small, short term fever; I am still the Iron Stomach. Need someone to go on a venture to find the best meat on a stick vendor in China? Want to share approximately 60 of these meatsticks from the Uyiger dristrict in downtown Xian? Need to see someone eat four or five Dunhuang "sloppy joes"? I am your man. (The SloppyJoes, by the way, are terrific, they are prepared in about 35 seconds on a worn down stump in the middle of the western night market, I strongly recommend them).

So what has Japan offered to this recovering traveler? Well, I have had good home cooking and a good warm bed everynight staying with my homestay familiy in Ibaraki. Now, let me take a second to describe what one my classmates host families are like. She is living with a young couple with two children, a seven year old boy and a ten year old girl with tons of homework who receive tons of attention and help from mom. The husband works at least until 8 or 9 and then commutes home to get home at around 10, or the childrens bedtime. The wife cooks all the meals for all the family, and even has a hot plate ready for the dad when he gets home after everyone else, even if he ends up (as is often the case) going bowling or drinking with fellow businessmen after work. Basically, the family is a stereotype of the Japanese Salaryman. My family, however, is an older retired couple, who speak rediculously good English and obsess over traditional home remedies and curatives (I feel like I personally tried half of them). The woman also obsesses over her veritable troop of cats and covering everywall in the appartment with applique` work. Like I said, they live in Ibaraki, which geographically is pretty much between Osaka and Kyoto and I think its name is derived from an old Japanese word for Commuters. I do feel good though that I am getting a chance to partake in a ubiquitous modern Japanese custom; the rediculously long commute, since it takes me about 2 hours each way, each day to get to the Kyoto Institute of Culture and Language, where our classes are being held. Speaking of which, it is about 4:00 right now so if I want to be on time for dinner at 6:30 I should probably start on my way back home.

Sayonara for now!