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It begins.

Week #10

Monday - 17 Mar 2003
Nagoya , Aichi, Japan - Japan

Day 62 (Monday)

Happy St. Patricks.s Day! Mo throat still hurts. Boo (cough! cough!) hiss. This morning I didn.t have my usual ceral. Just a banan and some milk. I made it out of the house and was unlocking my boke in the garage when Ojii-chan opens the window, leans out and tries to give me 2 mikans. Oh no. We are NOT having this again. I took one and said "That.ll be enough, thanks." Then I was off. I usually only eat breakfast to make my host family feel good. I know that they want to do thinks for me, but I.m pretty good at being independent. Therefore, I eat breakfast, even if it is only a small bowl of cereal.

However, my ass cannot take so many carbohydrates. I don.t like eating white rice. Everyday I see the mother put brown rice in the rice-polisher (which I have nicknamed the nutrient-destroyer) to have the brown-removed. I can feel my butt-expanding. Then, they keep giving me sweets...made of rice. Sometimes I let them give me rice for breakfast, too. Japanese food is not slimming. Whoever said this is a liar. LIAR.

Even in the States I don.t really eat breakfast. If I do, it.s usually a piece of fruit and some yogurt. Oy.

Day 63 (Tuesday)

Okay, so officially died. My throat is a mess. My head is almost visibally throbbing. (To be honest, I was so sick that I didn.t write this on Tuesday. I.m writing in retrospect, but the feeling is defiantely the same.) I skipped business class today and got home around 1:15pm. My host mother opened the door smiling, said " home early!", and then promptly freaked-out when I told her I was sick. It.s nice to have someone who cares.

I went straight to bed and to sleep and she made me some corn soup later. Hey, if there.s no accessible chicken soup, corn soup isn.t a bad substitute. I gave into my host mother.s suggestion that I take some painkillers...I was such a wuss.

Since my body was fine I ate dinner. Just the neck and up hurt. Then I went to bed. I did not, however, enter the furo (bathtub). Before coming to Japan I had heard that not really supposed to get into the tub if sick. Plus, I wasn.t really in the mood.

I was sick, but to everyone.s surprise...well seeing as how it.s obsessive-compulsive me, it was really surprise...I still did my homework. Believe me, it was painful.

Day 64 (Wednesday)

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. My nose was stuffed, but once I got up it started running like mad. Problem solved. I kept getting "Daijyobu (Are you OK?"ed like mad by the family at breakfast. When I got to school, I got steadily worse and skipped out on listening lab to go home at 9:45am. It was an easy day, so I only had 2 classes to begin with.

As I cycled into the garage my host mom gave me the sympathetic look from the 2nd story balcony (she was doing laundry). Yeah, sympathy. As is probably the same with everyone, I just wanna be coddled and "poor you!"ed when I.m sick. I went to bed again, but couldn.t sleep at all. I just read a really bad novel that I borriwed from school.

I came down to civilization before dinner because I was a little bored and feeling out of the loop (I usually spend all of my time in the living room with everyone when I.m not at school). After dinner Mrs. Sato came over wth a thermometer and I found that I had a little fever. I wasn.t perticularly surprised because my head was throbbing and BRIGHT red. Not kidding. Not kidding at all. Not just flushed cheeks, people. I was completely crimson. I got to take my temperature through my armpit. Cool. Then Mrs. Sato scolded me for doing my homework and said that when you have a cold you shouldn.t do anything. If only...

My host mother had suggested taking me to a doctor, but I declined. Not a chance in Hades. They have these cool self-stick head pads here. They stay cool for, like, an hour and they don.t leave your forehead sticky at all. I am SO buying some to bring back to the States (incidentally I never called the US "the States" until I was here). My host family spoke of cancelling the trip to Shizuoka on Friday, but I objected. Sheesh. I.ll be fine. Just a little (HUGE) cold (THE PLAGUE), right (NOPE)?

Day 65 (Thursday)

Last night I entered the furo. I suggested just taking a shower, but my host mother said that when sick it.s all or nothing or you.ll get sicker. When I got out she said she.d talkedto Mrs. Sato you said I shouldn.t have bathed at all. Dang it. Too many rules. Before I went to bed I watched some Stuart Little 2, dubbed in Japanese. Quite entertaining. However, host mom made me go to bed. Logical, but I didn.t want to go. Being sick makes me feel 7 years old and grouchy. Clutching my teddy bear, I went off to bed.

So, it was brought to my attention last night that there are an awful lot of spelling mistakes in Monday.s entry. decided not to fix them. If I was so whacked out by sickness that I didn.t notice, then that.s how the entry will stay. Today I.m feeling a lot better. Tomorrow is that trip to Shizuoka with the host family, so I.m glad that I don.t feel like dying anymore.

Since spring break starts tomorrow, don.t be expecting any new entries until Thursday-ish. Sorry. I can.t get into the computer lab. I.ll do my best.

My English ability is rapidly fading. So sad. Don.t know Japanese. Don.t know English. Can.t smell anything...still partially stuffed. It.s a dreary existence.

Day 66 (Friday)

Today I wentt to Shizuoka Prefecture with my family and the Sato family. The purpose of the trip was to take a ride of the SL. I.m not really sure what SL stands for, but it.s and old-time train. It was really cool. I was feeling much much better, so I was able to go.

Shizuoka Prefecture is known for it.s green tea. Since Japan is known for it.s green tea, that.s saying a lot. The fields of Shizuoka are the prettiest green. The little tea bushes (yeah, apparently tea grows on bushes) were so uniform and nicely trimmed. Just staring at the bushes was hypnotic.

The car-ride there took about 3 hours. While we were waiting to board, we looked around a train museum. Interesting. The train itself was really narrow. There was only room for 3 seats in each row (2 on one side of the aisle and 1 on the other). The train was taking us up into the mountains. All the way up we played word games. It was a little difficult for me, but I learned a lot of new vocab.

While we were riding the conductor told us to look out the window at the Tanuki Forest. A tanuki is a raccoon/dog-like little animal. In Japanese folklore, they can morph into other creatures. seen as funny, not-too-bright creatures. There are human-sized tanuki statues in front of lots of businesses. The statues are of a smiling tanuki with his/her head cocked to one side, carrying a barrel of sake (rice wine). Not so wierd, right? Every nation has folklore, right? It.s just like a lawn jockey, right? Wrong. Here.s the wierd part. Tanukis are also well-known for their GIGANTIC testicals, just hanging there, kind of swaying in the breeze. talking canteloupes (yeah, I may be in Japan, but I can still spell canteloupe. score!). Disturbing to say the least. The women are also quite breastily-endowed. So, that being said, the Tanuki Forest was something special...I only wish I knew what.

The train was going through really woodsy areas. The train stationg we passed we miniscule. There was just a platform there. Cool. I like the countryside. When we got to the top My family went to the "onsen" (big fancy bathhouse) and the Sato family went hiking. I wanted to go hiking, but it was cold and I was recovering. The onsen wasn.t really impressive, and the water wasn.t very hot, but it was still a nice bath. The way down the hill was pretty much the same except the we stopped half-way down to change trains.

The new train was an old-fashioned steam-engine. I can.t tell you how cool it was to ride on it. The sound of the the chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo! was so coooool. It was just like you see in old movies. As we started moving, I was spellbound,...that is until the conductor started singing karaoke over the PA system. Oh my, is nothing sacred? It was great though. And Mrs. Sato bought me a sterling silver bookmark as omiyage (a souvenir). That was nice. Now I owe her a gift. I guess it.s my fault for starting it. I bought her a box of chocolates a few weeks ago as a thank you for always bringing me little objects of interest.

Next we went to Ocha No Sado (that means Tea Village). There was a tea museum. We weren.t about to pay to get in, so we just looked around the omiyage shop and ate all the free samples. My host mother bought some green tea flavored omanju (sweet paste filled, uh, sweet paste?). Yummy.

The ride home took a little over 4 hours because there was a traffic jam due to an accident. Not cool. Apparently, traffic jams abound on Japanese highways. We stopped for dinner along the highway and the little boy cried because he had missed his favorite TV show. Little wuss. All he does is watch TV and he cries when he misses his shoes. What.s worse is that his parents apologize to him because he.s so upset. Sheesh. Let him cry like a little girl. My mother would have knocked me out for silly stuff. All in all, it was a good day.

Day 67 (Saturday)

Sickkkkkk. had a relapse. Not cool. But, today I played tennis with the Sato family. It was just host mom, sister, and I because the men-folk were busy with stuff. They adults wanted to play a game since there were four of us. I, of course, panicked. I can fake my way through most sports, I.m even good at many of them, but tennis is not one of them. In fact, since high school I have often acknowledged the fact that, aside form volleyball, tennis is my worst sport. However, nearly everyone in Japan plays golf and/or tennis (or can at least fake it) so, regardless of my cries for mercy, the game was on.

Now, these people had all played with me before. They knew how bad my aim was, so they were just being mean. I decided to be a good sport and joined Mr. Sato for doubles. We whomped on Mrs. Sato and host-mom. We completely demolished them. It turns out, the other team was afraid of my serve. I.m not sure how it happened, but there must have been divine intervention. I.m horrible with a racket. I though I was saved when host-mom got a phone call to pick up her son form soccer. Unofrtunately, she asked the Sato family to take me and h-sister home so that we could play some more. The nightmare continued.

Mrs. Sato and I joined up against Mr. Sato. We won almost half the matches. It was fun. Then we all went home and I tried not to be overcome by my sickness. Couldn.t smell a thing.

Day 68 (Sunday)

Captain.s Log

Stardate: Sunday, Day 68

Diagnosis: The Japanese Plague

Prognosis: Will surely die.

Still can.t smell. I.m almost as bad as I was before. But, I.m not whining about it to the host-mother or she.ll make me go to the doctor.s.

After tennis we all went to Obaa-chan.s bar to drop of some omiyage from Shizuoka. Did I mention that Gramma has a bar? How cool is that. It was my first time going inside. She has this wicked karaoke system which she let us play with while she made yakisoba (fried beef and noodles). Everytime I see Obaachan I.m depressed or sick or something, so this time I decided to be cheery if it killed me. We had a lovely, cheery conversation and she made me sing karaoke songs in English and Japanese. Amusing. Then, hearing that I like sashimi (raw fish slices) she asked is I had tasted namanoika (raw squid). Nope.

So, Gramma hooked me up with the namanoika. They were about 4 inches long and stll had their eyes and tenticles. She demonstarted that I was to pick it up my the forehead with my chopsticks and slurp until the tenticles disappeared. Alrighty then. She warned me that the eyes where a little hard. I was allowed to spit out the pit inside the eyeball (kind of like the seed in a cherry). So, I slurped one up. I quickly learned that the brain and guts were still in place. Lovely. It was cold and slimy, but really tasty.

Later, we went to a cemetary to clean off the grave of Ojiichan.s parents. Obaachan hates Ojiichan, but still does this because it helps her out spiritually. Cool. She poured water on the gravestone with a ladle and the cleared away all of the brush. She put flowers in the vase and we all lit incense and put in next to a burning candle. Nice.

Later we rented about a million videos. Yea!

Week #9
Week #11
  Shub Ganster - Bio and Journals
  It begins. - Intro Average Rating of 21 Viewers
Chapters of It begins.
  Getting There
  Week #1
  Week #2
  Week #3
  Week #4
  ***The 4-Week Break: What Have I Learned So Far?
  ***Trip: Hida Takayama
  Week #5 (Naked Men and Perverts)
  Week #6
  ***Trip: Kyoto
  Week #7
  Week #8
  Week #9
  Week #10
  Week #11
  Week #12
  Week #13
  Week #14
  Week #15
  Trip: Shizuoka (Take 2)
  Week #16
  Week #17

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