Friday, August 18, 2006

trains should have names

this weekend was my first excursion back to a relatively large city; regional two-day orientation in the capital city of Tsu. a fellow orientee and i boarded an early train and rode two marvellously soporific hours (rocked gently by the friendly train) through Jurassic Park-esque panoramas and past stormy beaches. i couldn't resist taking a picture of my travel partner with her mouth agape in sleep and i continue to snicker that i have this picture and she has no idea. at each stop they play a loud but pleasant blinging sound to wake any sleepers so they won't miss their stop. however, i believe the japanese are so accustomed to mass transit that they have incredibly well-tuned inner clocks and always wake just before their stops.
tsu station was graced with my favorite of all fast food chains in japan--mr donut. also available was a baskin robbins, which is just called "31." the mint chocolate chip tasted EXACTLY like it does in the states, and i almost did a little dance as i ate. (they also have green tea as a standard flavor, of course) at lunch we were searching for an elusive curry place, and i tried out my first complete sentence on a stranger. "where is coco curry?" hilariously, she answered my japanese question in english. but i communicated!! yaaaay.
predictably, there was a party following day one of orientation and i felt i HAD to go since i had missed all bonding festivities due to my illness at Tokyo orientation. they pick the strangest venues for these parties...the melting pot is a windowless bar decorated mainly with crappy furniture and overzealous blacklight paint. but i guess it's as good a place as any to get drunk, which most people tried to do as quickly as possible. it was actually a great chance to meet some second and third year JETs like the darling aussie couple fiona and sam. we managed to have a real conversation about art over the blaring music.
that night i slept for the first time on a real japanese futon on the tatami. they're definitely spartan at only two inches thick, but i was perfectly comfortable--amazing.
at the end of day two, i was ready to go back and sleep in my own bed, so i got some help buying a ticket (thanks sean) and caught the last train headed for my little town. as i rode off into the night (knitting needles in hand), i had one of those "i can't believe i'm really doing this" moments. i was just nonchalantly on a train in the middle of japan, finishing a knitted sock, and going to a place i never imagined i'd call home. i hoped my bike was still at the station where i left it because i didn't want to walk anywhere at midnight. it was. i dislodged a cicada (holy crap, those things are weird) and rode off into the rainy night towards home.


  1. There has been mention of giant spiders (not in this post, but earlier) and yet no photos. Are they like Sasquatch and Nessie, bathed in an aura that diffuses and blurs photos of their arachnidiness? These updates are a wonderful break, when I need to turn my mind away from all things Mercury.

  2. hey Th or D! indeed it's difficult to catch a picture of these monstrosities because they have such long legs and can run so damn FAST. i did manage a blurry action shot, but sadly the camera must take off ten pounds because it looked less than impressive on film. i'm absolutely certain of running into these chaps in the not-too-distant future and, no doubt, will have more chances than i'd like to look them in the eyes.