Thursday, January 05, 2006

And End to the Holiday Hiatus

Yes folks, we are back. Three weeks without a post but now I am back in the office and totally ready to post again. It's Friday, schools starts again on Tuesday. That's because Monday is Coming of Age Day, when all of the people who had their 20th birthdays since the beginning April of last year or before March of this year are recognised as adults in a big ceremony. Why April to March? Well for one thing it's the school year, and perhaps it's the fiscal year as well.

So just what have I been doing since the last time I posted here? I'm sure you are sweating in your socks with eagerness to hear. I'm wondering much the same. I do recall that we had special Christmas activities in English class on the 21st, and that school was cancelled on the 22nd due to a snowstorm. I remember that I went with Hideki and Sasakyon to Takamatsu to buy a snowboard and bindings on the emperor's birthday the following day. I remember that it rained on the 24th because that meant the slopes were all "sherbet" conditions and we couldn't go snowboarding after all. I remember that I borrowed Jonny Lawless's gamecube and played a lot of the Legend of Zelda.

And that's why I didn't wake up until like three in the afternoon on Christmas Day. Christmas dinner was at Colin and Jenny's place, had with Prenecia who lives in Komatsushima as well and with Ron Page whose wife was in Bangkok with the kids on their way back from Laos, and dinner was okonomiyaki. They have one of those tabletop okonomiyaki pans, so we sat around in the living room, four Ozzies and one Canuck. Dinner was followed by the Revenge of the Sith and Christmas pudding, which is like fruitcake pudding. There was also a rice pudding and custard. I got home at about 12:30 am, just enough time to tidy up a bit and set out my presents. The phone rang at about 1:00 and I was back in Canada for an hour or so, opening gifts and listening to my family open theirs from me. It sounds like this is not the norm for people here, but I can't imagine doing Christmas away from home any other way. After that I was too happy and alive to go to bed, so I watched The Ref, which I had gotten on DVD from my sister. And after that I just couldn't keep myself from playing more Zelda.

My initial plan was to get my body clock back in shape by not sleeping until the following evening, but I fell asleep at my kotatsu as the morning light was starting to come in through the windows. And then I woke up as the sun was setting. This time I was really going to do it, I was sure. But then I fell asleep while my windows were still dark in the morning and woke up after the sun had set. So i missed all the daylight on the 27th. Derek and his dad and brother were coming to visit on the 28th, and I was asked by Hideki to pick them up from the ferry at 11 am.

So trying to at least act like an adult I tried to go to bed early, like at sometime after midnight. But my brain was moving just way too fast, and though I lay there for a long long time, my body was convinced it was noon. Silly body clock. I don't know what was going on, but perhaps out of boredom, I began to think about ways I could kill myself without leaving the apartment. And I was shocked. As I flew out of bed I said something like "Holy crap! Something is definitely wrong with this picture!" So I did some rebuking of spirits in the name of Jesus. I'm not so blind as to miss a spiritual attack so blatant. The next natural thing to do was of course to talk to somebody. But who can I call at three in the morning? So I called Phil in Canada, for whom it was almost midday. After that I forget just what I did, but it was either watching DVDs (my brother had given me Batman Begins, sweeeet) or more zelda, or perhaps I read some Kamui-Den (this old comic I have gotten into lately). Or maybe i cleaned my apartment up a bit. Anyway, when it came time for me to leave I was good to go, and just a little bit tired.

They had way more luggage than I had expected, and it made for a tight squeeze. Not that I could have changed my car had I known beforehand. This was only their second day in Japan, and seeking a unique experience, we took them to okonomiyaki, where you make it on the table in front of you. I forget if I did that with my parents and sister or not when they were here. Perhaps I went with just my parents? I'm sure they ate it even if we didn't particularly go to a restaurant for it. Anyway, that was good. Thinking back to what I did with my parents, I suggested the Awa Odori Kaikan, which is like a museum for the Awa Odori dance (the summer festival is the third largest dance festival in the world, and until New Orleans gets back on its feet, perhaps the second after Carnivale), and you can normally see one of the troupes (called ren) of pro dancers perform. Sadly, when we got there we found out that it was the first day of the museum's new year holidays. Too bad. So instead we decided to go back to Kamikatsu and hit the onsen. That way they could see that not all of Japan is concrete. And get all relaxed after all that travel from the States and Osaka. Then it was off to Hideki's aunt's restaurant for nabé. It was Hideki's treat. Hideki had gone with Derek to Seattle the year before. Then Derek's "Mama-san," his former host mother picked them up in Anan to take them south to Yuki town, and I headed home and went to bed.

Just to make sure I set that body clock right, Hideki and I were going snowboarding in Ikawa town the next day bright and early, meeing at 6:30. When I woke up to the sound of the phone at 6:45 we changed the time to 8:00. Oops. It turned out to be just as well though, as we were able to buy day passes off of some people that were leaving already at 10:30 (the slope was packed) for like a third of the normal cost. It took a while for me to get my sense back as far as the board is concerned.
We hit an onsen on our way home, too, which was nice.

The next few days were all tv, movies, comics, and some video games. The 30th was my last chance to do any shopping for food or anything for the next few days, so I splurged and got myself some wine and cheese and olives and spaghetti and some real spaghetti sauce (all comparitively expensive here). Happy eating for Matthew.

New Year's Eve was spent watching NHK's 紅白合戦 (kohaku gassen)and The Empire Strikes Back. KôHaku Gassen is the CrimsonWhite Battle. NHK is Nippon Hoso Kyokai, or Japan Broadcasting Corportation. So in principle, it's the Japan version of the BBC, or perhaps of the CBC, or of Australia's ABC. Perhaps lower than the CBC in entertainment value, so way below BBC's reputation, at least. I would say NHK's rep is boring in a sometimes interesting or historic drama sort of way.

Anyway, the RedWhite Battle gets its colours from the flag, the national colours. The battle is between guys and girls, and is fought musically. If I'm not mistaken, it's two hundred people altogether, 100 guys vs 100 girls, and maybe 40 or 50 songs altogether? It runs from about seven thirty until about quarter to twelve. All the performers are the year's most popular, including everything from popstars to enka singers. Enka is mostly old people music, a style of easy listening that is painful for teenagers. Too much of it is also painful for me. So I found the lineup on the internet with my cellphone, and only watched the ones I wanted to see, watching starwars the rest of the time.

Most of the time Japanese TV leaves a lot to be desired. However, if there are three days of the year when there is something good on almost all day long, it's the first three days of the year. And only those three days. So New Year's Day was spent watching highly entertaining variety shows. The second was spent snowboarding in the evening. The third was spent watching more variety shows, and My Happy Mask Marriage, a reality TV show for people who want to get to know the other without having to show their face and get judged right away. For people into StrangeLove. It was as interesting as it was low budget, so VERY. I'll post my thoughts on Shibui later.

With all the interesting programming, I managed to throw my body clock off again, so yesterday was spent trying to recover it and reading a lot of Legend of Kamui comics. I'd watched all my movies and TV was largely boring again, you see.

Today is go to school and type a blog entry day. Then get lunch at the ikkyuchaya, and then get my hair dark again. While it has gotten much lighter, it's not light enough to not look green. They won't want me teaching like this. I already have my next colour at home, waiting to be put in. I'll keep you in suspense until Tuesday as to what it is. Will it look good? Hard to say. I like the green more as it has gotten lighter, it suits me more. Maybe I'll do it again in the fall or something. But for now we have to try something more normalish. How normal? Wait and see.

Tomorrow is another snowboarding day. Then it's go to Osaka day. Monday is people watching day and come back from Osaka day for me, but 成人の日 (seijin no hi) Coming of Age Day on the national scale. Tuesday is opening ceremonies and clean the school day, and staff party which was postponed from december 22nd day. For more offensive opinion on what day it is, this might be amusing.

So after all that rest time, you would think I would have to have come to a conclusion of some kind, something deep and profound, or some kind of revelation. And you would be right. What I have learned in the last few days is this:

Ayumi Hamasaki is a robot.


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