picture from the mongol fortifications rice paddies
Matilda in Japan Delicious Barbeque
Strange park I found View near my apartment building
Hello again! I hope that life in America/Germany/Canada is wonderful, and that everyone is getting prepared/excited for Thanksgiving.
As I get settled further in to life in Japan, I am coming to appreciate the abroad life more and more. However, I need to focus on exploring and learning every day. As it gets colder, it is much more tempting to curl up in my room with a good book or a TV show that I downloaded from Itunes, and relax.
Karate is going well, and last Saturday was a lot of fun. We had practice for three hours, and we were being tutored by Hiro (there are many men here with the first name Hiro), and he was very funny. He kept on telling us which hits are the most painful. It was especially funny given the fact that most of the people who taught us before were not very agressive, but Hiro was very into ...pain. My kind of Karate teacher. Then Samuel, an awesome guy from Hong Kong, and I went to get McDonalds (my second time here....), and some guys from Michigan taught me how to play Eucher. It is actually quite fun, although I must say I was not particularly skilled at it.
On Monday, we went to Dazaifu- a 40 minute bus ride from where we live. It is very famous in Japan because of its shrine, Dazaifu Tenmangu, that holds the spirit of the God of learning, Sugawara Michizane, a famous literary figure in Japan. They actually built the shrine, not necessarily because of his cultural importance, but because after his death, a series of mishaps occured which made the people think that his spirit was angry. Kind of opposite from the idea of being memorialized for the good things that happen after you die. The shrine itself was built about 1,200 years ago, in the Heian period ofJapanese history. Although I do not have any pictures (I forgot my camera...), it was beautiful. There were also 1,500 year old camphor trees nearby.
Our first stop was a sumo stable where the sumo wrestlers train for competition. Unfortunately, through a series of miscommunication, there was only one sumo wrestler there when we came. However, it turned out well because we got to ask him a lot of questions. He was from China, his father did sumo, and he had been doing Sumo for 3 years. He was only 19 years old. We got to see a ring where the sumo wrestlers train that is considered sacred space. Women are never allowed to enter the ring because our bodies would pollute it. But I have always been environmentally conscious!...After thanking him, we headed off towards the shrine. As we went by, we could see another giant sumo wrestler standing around in a giant t-shirt cooking himself dinner. I guess we really did get to see behind the scenes of the Sumo world.
On our way to the shrine, we also walked by an ancient Heian library that was built 1,200 years ago. On its front lawn, noblemen would play what is perhaps the world's best drinking game. They would float a cup of sake down an artificial stream, and before it reached the nobleman, he would have to compose a poem of some kind.
After the shrine, we went to a buddhist temple made famous for its moss garden. It was beautiful, but it was hard to commune with nature when you are surrounded by other people and hungry. However, when I actually concentrated on the garden, it was quite peaceful.
Then we had time to wander around and shop at all the tourist stores. I FINALLY got good post cards, as well as a lime green owl cell phone accessory, and a black sesame seed icecream. They have some of the strangest ice-cream flavours, but some of them are quite delicious. Plum was definitely excellent. I also saw this bird statue (called an Umo) that apparently, if you purchase it at the right time of year, will undo all the harm of your last year's lies. Something to remember.
The rest of the week was very uneventful, except for studying for my tests. I think they went fairly well, and now I have the rest of the week to recover. So next week- you can look forward to:
Sumo wrestling match (soo excited), to be lazy or not to be lazy, 105 yen sushi (about a dollar a plate)...and much much more