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Alive and Kicking

April 28, 2010

Last night I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go to the bath house or take a walk, so I ended up taking a walk to the bath house. It was a beautiful night, with a big full moon overhead, and I grabbed a beer at the convenience store on the way back and sat by the river watching the moon. All in all, a fabulous way to spend the evening. Because of that, I’ve been inspired to make a quick update again. Walking seems to help keep this blog updated.

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve posted here, and I’ve done all sorts of things since last time. I donated blood, ran in a marathon, watched a ballet, went to some house parties, gave a lecture about economics to a bunch of rich old guys at the Rotary Club, my mom came to visit, I switched over to a Japanese driver’s license, and I took a trip up to Nagasaki. Whew! Got it all into one sentence.

Giving blood was pretty much the same as it is in America, except I got some fresh eggs for my trouble. The marathon (well, really only a half marathon) was up in Hyuga, and that was quite an interesting experience. There were a bunch of hills in the first part of the course, so I was pretty exhausted the last five kilometers or so. My goal was to run the whole thing without stopping or walking and I made it, so that felt good.

The ballet was pretty cool. A troupe from Tokyo came down and gave a performance at one of the local elementary schools and I got to go along to watch. We haven’t had very many school visits this last month, but it looks like things are going to pick up again next month. I was kind of nervous about giving the lecture to the Rotary Club guys, as I’m quite sure most of them know way more about economics than I do, but it went okay.

My mom came to visit, and I was able to show her around my favorite places here and we even discovered some places I haven’t been before. She got to meet all the good people who support me here and eat lots of the good food available around here, and everyone here seemed to have a great time as well.

Getting my Japanese driver’s license was kind of a pain, but I passed on my first attempt, so I felt good about that. A lot of people have to go back again and again until they drive around the course exactly the way the instructors want them to, and the test is not really a test of actual ability at all but rather a test of how well you know when you’re supposed to turn your head at different parts of the course. But anyway, I made it, and now I feel somewhat more officially “here.” Somehow, having a Japanese driver’s license makes me feel more like I’m not just here visiting.

I’ve actually been out as much as possible, going on little trips here and there. I took a trip over to Saito a couple weekends ago with Miyuki, and we played frisbee in the middle of huge fields of flowers. The day after that, we took a trip over to Sakurajima and played around underneath lifesize statues of dinosaurs. We had a picnic lunch there as ash fell on us and we were dive-bombed by a kamikaze hawk that wanted our fried chicken. The trip up to Nagasaki was great. I got to try the Sasebo burger, which is famous because there is an American military base up there so there are burger restaurants all around to cater to the base personnel. We went to Haus ten Bosch, a Dutch theme park, and played around amidst the windmills. Driving further south, we crossed a channel in the ocean where swirling currents create giant whirlpools as the water rushes through. That evening, we watched a gorgeous sunset from a “million-dollar viewpoint” and the night view of Nagasaki was dazzling. The next day, we went to Glover Garden, a garden and museum of an old house that was owned by a foreign guy who came to Nagasaki in the mid-1800s. We also went to the peace park, and it was interesting to see it after my experiences in Hiroshima. I also got to try out some of Nagasaki’s famous food – champon noodles and Turkish rice. We walked through China town and had some amazing Starbucks down by the wharf.

Hmm, that about sums it all up, I guess. Hopefully I’ll be able to write in more detail about upcoming adventures and keep you all more regularly updated. Golden Week starts tomorrow, and I’ve got a bunch of fun stuff lined up!

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