Saturday, September 01, 2007

I Guess I Should Probably Start Working Now..

My solid month of paid "learn the town" time has unfortunately come to an end. Tomorrow is when the grind begins. I don't really understand the details (this will become a recurring theme unfortunately), but I am going to give a good size intro speech in Japanese to everyone, then I am going to do an introductory english lesson for each of the classes.

I was assigned a host family to spend a little time with. This family consists of a widow whose children are old enough to all be living in different cities... riveting to say the least. Today I returned from a day trip to her summer home. It was a nice town in the mountains called Kitakaruizawa-about three hours to the north by car. Not really a whole lot to say about the trip.. pretty tame. It was nice to see a new area without dealing with the train system, though.

This is a little shrine that is typical of households. I'm not going to get into all the details, but this is a place to pray to one's deceased relatives. From what I witnessed my host parent made a new cup of tea and lit a stick of incense here everyday. Recently the Japanese celebrated the Bon Festival. At this time everyone returns to their hometown to have family reunions, and apparently the spirits of one's ancestors also attend the festivities.

Anyway, this place was in the mountains and kind of isolated with lots of farming going on everywhere, and as a result there were little fresh produce stands dotting the roads. Several seemingly out of place hotels and upscale shops made it obvious that although this was a smallish town, rich people like to play here.

An outside view of one of the fruit stands

Here is some overpriced fruit at a stand. I hope I am misunderstanding, but it seems that 3 peaches are around 8.50, and 6 peaches are around 25.00. Note the silly little jackets that the peaches wear.

The fancy looking hotel/restaurant that we dined at.

On a completely separate note, the Japanese really need to learn how to make a quality toilet... They all suck for different reasons. The classic Japanese toilet is basically just a hole in the ground covered in porcelain. Most homes will have a normal seeming toilet, but don't be fooled. Yes, many of them have a Startrek amount of buttons on them, but sometimes theres not enough water in the bowl, or it doesn't flush properly. Its probably a conspiracy to keep people from flushing their trash when they miss that special Monday....

Sometimes this passes as a toilet around here..

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