Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lost, Lost, Lost, Sheffield, London.

On Monday Dan and I went to Sherwood forest in the morning.
The first thing we did was walk to Major Oak, where Robin Hood is said to have hidden from the sheriff at one point. The tree is really old now, and Natalie (who is from Nottingham) said she went as a kid she was so disappinted that she couldn't climb on it like Robin Hood, and she was annoyed at the fact that its branches are now held up by posts.

Then we went for a walk, and not knowing which path to take, or if we should go back to the visitor center for maps et cetera, or what, we stood at a crossroads. So I said, "Well, let's just go get lost." And off we went. And after a while we sort of did feel like we had gotten lost, but after a sit for to eat some packed sandwiches in the sun, we did find our way back. It was a beautiful place to get lost in. It was also very different from the forests of Japan, which made it interesting in other ways, too.

On our way back from the forest, we passed a maise maze (corn maze) and having an extra couple of hours, decided to give it a go. Some of the paths were a bit poorly marked, so I think I took a few shortcuts that weren't supposed to be paths. In fact I know I did. I ended up at the end right at the beginning and worked my way around the whole maze, but couldn't sort out where I was supposed to end up. It was pretty fun anyhow. The sun came out, which was nice.

That night we had curry for dinner, satisfying me desperate need to get some rice into me system. Mmmm... chicken tikka masala...

And I started downloading season 2 of Lost so that i can watch it and be in the know when I get home. We watched Pride and Prejudice in the evening, and it was pretty good.

The sun goes down so late here! It throws me. After three years in Japan, I feel like if the sun is in the sky, it can't be much later than six, ever. But the sun stays up until like past ten at night. So often its nine at night but I feel like its five. Of course, when I first went to Japan it was the quick sunset that drove me nuts, rather than the reverse now. Ironic.
And Nottingham is a little farther north than Winnipeg. Winnipeg is 49 degrees and 50 minutes north, but Nottingham is about 53 degrees north.

Tuesday Dan and I went into Sheffield in the morning, walked around, and then met Natalie for lunch at a pub, and then Dan got his football (soccer ball) which we kicked around for an hour before he had to run to the dentist. Sheffield was a nicer town than I had imagined, because of the way everyone seems to joke about it.

Yesterday Dan and I hopped a train from Nottinham station into London and walked around all day.

The station in Nottingham had a very different atmosphere from what I'm used to. And instead of reliable mechanical gates, they had people checking and taking your tickets! Crazy!

So we got into town, hopped on the tube, and started our day of walking around downtown London. We walked down to Trafalgar Square and saw Nelson's column. And while we were there, we checked out the National Gallery. I'm not so partial to much painting pre-baroque, and given our limited amount of time, we just did from 1600 forward. I'm sure it's tragic that I missed out on seeing some of the great stuff they surely had, but time is a limited commodity on a one day trip.

Then we walked to the parliment buildings and Big Ben, crossed the river thinking of taking the London Eye to check the city out, but summer tourism making the lines it makes dissuaded us from following through on that. So I posed with Winston Churchill for a photo, and after checking out Westminster Abbey, we continued on our way.

On the way to Buckingham Palace, we also stopped at the memorial for dead Canadian soldiers, as well as the Victoria Memorial.

There were lots of tourists outside of Buckingham, but it was interesting enough I suppose. Then we walked to Hyde park, and Speaker's Corner, which was set up hundreds of years ago for people to exercise their freedom of speach and get up on the metaphorical soapbox and speak against the government, or whatever. Not much to see, but interesting to have been there.

After that we hopped the tube to St. Paul's Cathedral, the main place for the Church of England (Anglican Church). It was really money. It must have cost so much to build that place. Not my bowl of fish, but worth the trip, I suppose. After walking around for a bit, I sat down in a chair and took a cat-nap. I was woken with a start when a choir started singing. It was really nice with the acoustics the building offers. Then a preist (or is he a reverend? I don't know) got up to lead in some brief prayer.
Then we went down to the crypt to check out where rotting shells of dead people are kept for some reason. Lots of names on plaques. We played the "walk around and see how many names you recognise" game.

Then we walked accross the Millenium Bridge to the Tate Modern Art Gallery. Unfortunately we only had time to do one floor of it (hour and a half) before it closed. But much good art was seen. Any good vacation includes a few trips to art galleries or museums, in my opinion. We were going to check out London Tower and the Tower Bridge, but it started raining. We retreated to a pub in hopes that it would let up altogether, but it was not to be. It only let up enough for us to make it to a station to get on the tube, to get to our station, to come home, to sleep the sweet sleep of people who have been on their feet all day.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Everyone Loves Robin Hood

Matt Hood, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

I haver arrived safely in Nottingham. Yesterday we set out to check out the downtown, which is a massive collection of not office buildings but small shops and stores; lots of shopping. It reminded me of America-mura in Osaka, or Harajuku in Tokyo, or perhaps a theme park, because there were so many people amongst the many shops, and it all seemed so foreign and just impossible to be real. Where were all the Japanese people? It's really very strange.
We also swung by Nottingham castle grounds, and I sat on Robin Hood. He's so strong and cool! Arms like bronze, I tell you.

Oops, I think we'll be heading off to church soon. When was the last time I went to church in the morning instead of the evening? I don't actually recall.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Better rested now.

Here I am in Nottingham, London, after a comfortable but long day of sitting and standing.

I did walk to the subway and then stood on the subway with my suitcase, computer bag, and snowboard. Then I sat on the bus from Umeda station to the airport (about an hour) and then stood in line for check-in.

Then I sat while they urgently tried to get me a visa to China. Then I sat while they gave up on China and tried to sort out a solution for me and bought me a new ticket to England. Then I stood in several different lines in the process of going through immigration et cetera.

My flight to London was twelve pleasant hours of sitting and reading and watching movies on my private tv screen. I love the new planes JAL has! And being a fit young guy willing to help out in the case of an emergency, I was able to score a seat by an emergency exit, which is nice when your legs are as long as mine are.

Then when I got into Heathrow I called Dan and he said they'd be happy to come pick me up if I was willing to wait. He'd wait for Natalie to come home, then they'd have some dinner and set out to get me. Which translated to five hours' wait. So I happily sat down and continued to read my book.

So precisely 24 hours and 5 minutes after I had woken up in Osaka that morning, Dan and Natalie found me at the airport. And then four hours later (we stopped for a bite to eat for an hour) I was comfortably in bed.

And here I am in Nottingham.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Travel is so unpredictable.

I guess I won't be seeing China this time after all.

The problem? They won't let me fly without a visa. Why don't I have a visa? Why didn't I look into it? Well, my trip and tickets were arranged by a travel company, and the guy I went through was sure that for a mere three days I certainly wouldn't need one. He sorted out all the stuff I would need. But overlooked the visa, it would seem. So my flight leaves in 50 minutes, and it is highly unlikely that I will be on it.

Now, China was just a bonus, and I suspect that they will pay for me to stay somewhere in town tonight and fly me out tomorrow, or the next day, and I will just change planes in Beijing without actually seeing it. Which makes me kind of sad. I was looking forward to my two days of travel.

Oh, no, wait, they are going to have me fly today and just arrive in London like two days earlier than planned. Which is fine, I guess. I'm going to need to call Mr. Moore and let him know what's going on.

So I'm angry at the Nishikawa-san (the travel agent) for thinking that a Canadian would enjoy the same privileges as a Japanese and so neglect to think about a visa, I'm sad that I don't get to enjoy a couple days of adventure in China, I regret that I am going to have to spend money to pay for where I am staying and I regret having told so many people that i was going to be in China, but I also forgive the travel agent for the mix-up, and am thankful for the efforts to which they are going to get me to London nonetheless.

China will just have to wait. I wonder if I will ever go now? I hope so.

[sigh] Oh well.

I suppose that if there is a lesson to be learned here it is to be very carefully aware of what is needed for travel, instead of relying on someone else to work it all out for you.

It's funny how much I want to go to Beijing now. If I had never made the plans, it probably would not have been a big deal to never go. But having made the plans and had events negate them, to be denied the chance to go somehow makes me want to go all that much more. I was so close to a new experience, to seeing a few really famous things.

But like the verse in James says, don't go around saying I'm gonna do this, and then I'm gonna do that. Instead say, if the Lord wills, I will go to this or that place and do this or that.

And I don't need to worry about missing out on China now. I trust God that he will work it out for good. I may not have been able to enjoy it anyhow, if the typhoon makes horrible weather there for the next couple of days. And that has been a concern. I was psyching myself up to get soaked.

Oh wait! Now they are just flying me straight to London!

Last Moblog From Japan

Well cell phone, its been fun. I've given you lots of abuse but you held out for three years and for that I am thankful.

The next photo blog entry may have to wait until Canada now.

going out for dinner

derek and emi are joining me for my last dinner in japan

osaka at night

osaka at night, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

this city keeps its heat really well in the evening. but air conditioning pouring out open shop-doors is as refreshing as the smell of greasy unhealthy ramen is tantalising.

chillin in osaka

chillin in osaka, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

Goodbye Japan

Dear Nihon,

I'm going to miss you, Japan. I've fallen in love with you and your people. I love the way you think and the way you talk. Your songs have such beautiful lyics. Your language fascinates me.

To people who don't know you, you often seem so cold and mysterious. But you have a heart of gold. You welcome visitors and lavish kindness on them. Even if you aren't keen on them staying forever.

I wanted to get to know better, but you are so emotionally complicated that you made it hard for me. I have enjoyed our three years together, and I will never forget them. But you have made it clear to me that we don't have a future together, we just can't seem to live with eachother. I do want to come back and see you again someday.

It's hard to leave you here, Japan, when I really don't know what comes next. But it is time to leave. I'm glad I stayed as long as I did. You taught me so much, helped me to grow as an individual.

I pray that you too will grow and develop, and mature into a country even more full of admirable character.


Sincerely yours,
Matthew Shettler

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Travel's Way

On Travel's Way, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

Well, that was very sad.

A lot of people came to see me off. Hideki and Otsuka-san arrived just in the nick of time to say farewell. I almost cried as the bus departed. Goodbye Tokushima, goodbye everyone!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


gross!, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

this was a dangerous snake

group shot

group shot, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

curry dinner

curry dinner, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

i am so full! a liter or more of water and a huge pile of rice with curry later, ive almost forgotten the pain of the day's dancing. now i just want to rest and digest.

more old folks homage

us actually dancing!

i got someone to snap some shots while we were dancing this time

Monday, August 14, 2006

waiting waiting waiting

and we're done!

and we're done!, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

tokushima was a blast, people seemed to really enjoy us, and crowd response gave me the boost i needed to make my solo bit a real success!

a good night, sore blistery feet and all!

in the thick of it

in the thick of it, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

we did one of our three or four performances and i saw my friends yuki and fumi, who were on thir way to dance with arasowaren, and they stopped to watch. we (kocho-ren) also passed iya joe an jordan.

six o'clock

six o'clock, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

we're in tokushima, we've eaten our udon dinners, and we're getting ready to dance. but because we are a small and seasonal troupe we cant dance through the main streets like in the back there.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


pocari!, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

the old folks home gave us Pocari Sweat to drink after we performed

last location

last location, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

i got my friend natsuko to take some pictures while we were dancing at the festival. but due to the low quality of my camera-phone they didnt turn out so well.


., originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

in the hood

in the hood, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

now half done, we just danced through my neighborhood.

on to location two

on to location two, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

ironically i cant take pictures of us actually dancing

but we've done our first kamikatsu hour performance and are on to kamikatsu location two

and my shoulders are killing me

Saturday, August 12, 2006

good to go!

good to go!, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

Getting Ready

Getting Ready, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

so we dance a bunch today and we're all getting suited up.

goodnight tokushima

dancers everywhere!

You cant even buy fruit without being accosted by Dancing Fools! All i wanted was an apple...

let's get my face in there

because i forget what i look like

many troupes crammed together

waiting for their chance to progress down the road

so it begins!

so it begins!, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

awa odori starts tonight and here it goes!

i get to watch tonight

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Visible Finish Line

I am now down to just one week left in Japan.

And this last week has been one of the most relaxing weeks I have had in the last three years. I tied up most of the really important loose ends before I moved out of my apartment on the second, and though the place I'm staying is really something else, i've been able to properly relax and enjoy the summer weather. I don't even need to show up at school! I just do what I want. So my rhythm has become something like
wake up between nine and eleven
email julie from my cell phone
eat some bread etc for breakfast
lie naked on the roof suntanning
go for a swim in the river to cool down (not naked)
eat lunch at the cafe with the beautiful view
do some errands or something in the afternoon, maybe come to school to check a little email
read a book/watch movies/go out at night.

So very relaxing.

And I do feel like ive earned it. All that preparation and running around making myself insane while also making a book and trying to see the girl I love as much as possible. So now I get to just chill out, think, relax, listen to music, and generally recover from the tyranny of the urgent which I so easily succumb to.

I should probably write something about all the awesome fun stuff I did with phil, and how it sucks to be so far away from Julie now, but maybe I'll save all that for later.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Crazy Environmentalists

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The road goes ever on and on

So Phil has just left onthe bus to kansai airport. It was super fun having him here and now its back to closing down my life here. It's sad to say goodbye, but change is healthy. Only two weeks left!