okonomiyaki nights: eggs, cabbage, skillet

the delicious story

No, I didn't take a picture of the okonomiyaki that I had. The ability to blend in and understand requires me not to act like a tourist on a euphoric high and with nearly every JET participant taking pictures of their food, the road less traveled is ideal for me. So there. In retrospect, taking pictures may not have been a terrible thought as the company was great, the food scrumptious, and the following karaoke session a blast! My supervisor, Saya-san, his familiy, and Josh headed out for an enjoyable Friday night. There is so much on the Internet about okonomiyaki that I have no desire to repeat them here. I will say that the okonomiyaki sauce is like ketchup, the flakes are dried/shaved fish, and the greet tea leaves act as texture. If you don't like mayo, don't add the white stuff.

For those of you who do not know of my Filipino stories, which have been orally conveyed due to my laziness, then you will be surprised to find out that karaoke is a favorite thing of mine. Thank goodness they have it here! We sang for two hours at a place called US Land in an arcade called Caina. I wish I had more info on the place, but despite the panchinko machines, mock horse raceing machines, Half-Life 2 aracade machines, and odd trinket claw grabs, I'm sure you can imagine a standard arcade. Now, to this add the purikura booth. You and your friends enter an expansive photobooth and while the invisible machine girl is delivering instructions at you, not to you, the entirety of the group poses. The background changes so adapting to the giant watermelon, rocket ship, fireworks, floating in space, discotech theme, etc. can be daunting depending on the number of people. It worked out with only four of us. After the photoshoot, there is an adjoining section that has a place for post-production. Here you can add bunny hats, sunglasses, angry turtles, and more to the pictures. Hit print, cut, and distribute. Instant souvineer for the whole family!

It's all so gimmicky, but did I ever have fun! Wait until people come visit me - we might have to hit up a photobooth!!!

iwadeshi: wakayamaken

i just got here, but things are peachy!

We stepped off of the plane into the Kansai airport, and after a quick bathroom break, surprisingly rapid luggage retrieval, and abrupt goodbyes to our newly acquired friends, we started out the doors to be met by our contracting orginizations. What happend after that can only be described as a blur. Josh, Saya-san, Katabawa-san, and Haiya-san - my predecessor and now colleagues - met me at the airport. Greetings are always awkward, and going from J-kun, who speaks conversational Japanese, to the toaster, only made it all the more awkward.

But there is a difference between awkward and non-accepting, and there was a warmth in the greeting, akin to wiping the sweat off of the brow after finding out the unremarkable, ticking parcel delievered to your door is a clock and not a thermal detonator after all. We had lunch, took a car ride, and (Bill: you will LOVE this next part!!) stopped by a photo kiosk to get my passport pictures done as another set was required for the alien registration card. That makes my ninth set in six months. This doesn't include the purikura photos I was to have later that week, but that is another story. Then we met the supervisor, superintendent, and mayor. We did a ton of paperwork, most of it I couldn't read and much had to be explained by Josh. But the day was young!

There was the apartment to see to as well. Luggage in tow, we headed off to the apartment. Now, the apartment I am staying in is only temporary until renovations are completed on it. For the time being, I'm in the apartment below. We opened the new futon/tatami mat, fixed the air conditioner, which still only puts out hot air, and learned how to use all the cool appliances like hot water, ofuro (type of tub used in bathing), and toilets. Blessedly, it was all straight-forward and nary a problem was to had.

Everyone said goodbye: my co-workers to their home, my predecessor to his apartment. There was roughly two hours to kill, which I pursued with vigour! First, a cold shower. Second, clothes. Third, set up laptop to write. Fourth, explore surroundings. I'm near a Lawsons, which is a kind of convenient store consisting of all sorts of goodies, from corn dogs to soba (noodles made from buckwheat flour). Josh, his girlfriend, and I went to a restaurant that specilizes in gyoza and ramen. I only had room in my stomach for gyoza, which was yummy! We had a lovely visit, the three of us, and then sensing my jet lag, we called it a night.

That was my first day in Iwadeshi. It was an excellent time, and I think the first impressions went well. Happiness is finding a place you enjoy, and so it is that I can report my happiness.