Monday, October 26, 2015

Touristing it Up.

Hey gang!
So October has been pretty radical so far.
Towards the middle of the month Gem School opened a new location in Utazu and WOAH IT'S IN A MALL. So me and a few other teachers attended an opening ceremony where we planted a few trees in the plaza. It was an ingenious way to not have to pay gardeners. But it was actually a really good time to be honest. While planting one of my coworkers and I started singing "Shake it Off" and it got caught in my head, so I kept going. One of the even coordinators was across from me and started humming it too, and referred to me as Taylor Swift. Yes. Totally and obviously that is who I am.
Aren't we just so precious? 

I'm forever apart of the landscape now. I have changed it. My ghost will wander the shopping malls of Japan forever. 

After we went to Round 1 in Takamatsu for Jillian's birthday party. Round 1 is this crazy fun place with several floors of straight up diversions. They have an arcade, bowling, skating archery (which I suck at), karaoke (which I suck at but love as you all know), baseball, really just everything in general. And really bad beer, but I didn't mind so much. It was a pretty rad time, overall. 

More recently (this past weekend) I got to go to Mitoyo, where Laura and her workplace were throwing a radical Halloween Party. I volunteered to be a part of the haunted house. Everyone came in costume. Originally I was dressed as a power ranger, ( a costume I will also be wearing to the Gem School Halloween Party this weekend). It was a little weird walking to the station dressed like that in midday, but basically I'm already kind of a spectacle. So it was just an added weird bonus. (Some people seemed hella into it. Like maybe I'd have more success if I was a power ranger all the time.) 
Half way through, I snuck away to change into my zombie gear. Laura had a dress ready. In the bathroom where I was changing there were dead little crabs everywhere (and as I later discovered a live furry spider.) But despite how kinda creepy I found that, I put on my game face and did what I had to. 
After I was done I hid in another bathroom and watched for people to come in. I was the first scare. Sometimes the timing was a little hard cause they'd come into view before everyone was in, but I got some nice scares in. Started throwing myself on the ground and zombie crawling it up. I managed to get a middle aged Japanese woman to stare me in the face and most genuinely scream "KOWAI!" which is all I never knew I wanted. 
After, during the costume contest result announcements a bunch of the attendants asked to take pictures with me, which was super cute. I would get a groaning and they adored it. One lady even asked if I was an actress, which was mecha kawaii. It was a total blast. 

Laura's costume was very punny: A combo of a fashion popular ten years ago that sounded like the Japanese word for Dad. 

After I kicked it at Laura's and we talked mostly about Super Jail and Rick and Morty and other stuff. It was pretty hype. 
Sunday morning I traveled back to Marugame in my power ranger suit, which felt more conspicuous and walk of shamey in the morning than in the early evening. After I cleaned up I met a friend (whose name, I hate to admit, I don't actually remember. We've exchanged them twice but can't seem to hold onto them for the life of us. Thankfully I'm pretty sure the problem goes both ways.) We made arrangements to get lunch. He doesn't speak a whole lot of English, but we manage through translators on our phone as per my usual convos go. I can tell you he is, like a lot of my pals, a ship builder. Guess its a big industry here or sommmmething. 
We hopped in his car and drove to a nearby burb where we grabbed Udon and he tried to teach me the Japanese way of eating with chopsticks. Luckily it seems my child like mistakes are mostly endearing, and he just kinda kept chuckling. 
who doesn't love toddlers? Or twenty somethings
that are like toddlers.  
Couri's first bowl of Udon. 
After we went to this temple, Kotohira-gu or Konpira. It's up a mountain in Kotohira and like it is WAY FUCKING HIGH UP! There's 785 steps to the main temple, and like 1300 to the inner shrine. We didn't go all the way up. We got to the entrance of the main temple where they a giant golden ship propeller and a stable of horses for the God of the Sea and we were like "Nah, bro, we're good." Konpira is super famous, especially among sailors, since it is dedicated to the deity of the Sea, and lots of people make the pilgrimage to pray there. It was full of folk the day we went. (Ipai no hito! Full of people!) We sat and smoked and talked for a little, and during that point my phone died cause I didn't get a chance to charge it much. I related this to him and he was like "shit." and I was like "mondai nai." and he said "mondai aro!" ("It's no problem." "Nah, it's a problem.") But we still managed as best as we could. We headed back down the mountain, and on the way I actually got like super vertigo for a minute, and felt just a tadbit panicish heading down the narrow crooked as stone steps like I was gonna crack my head open. I couldn't exactly explain this so I just kinda shook it off. I'm a valley kid. We don't climb up into hella high altitudes often. But I managed to hold it down. 

This shirt is totally on inside out and I didn't notice until like eight hours later. 

When we got to the bottom we explored the shotengai there, and we managed to remark on how much I liked the Marugame one--out local "Ghost town" shotengai. The fact that I knew that name tickled him, and I managed to express that Youngstown--which I had told him a little about over lunch, was also a "ghost town". He tried to find an takoyaki stand that closed and he shook his head sadly saying "Ghost town shop." 

We did have a hiccup when he was trying to ask something that sounded like "ashai" and he said "shower?" and I just kind of shook my head and said the name of a local beer that sounds similar, which garnered a laugh and we let the communication impasse drop. 

After we went to Sakaide to check out the beach and this view of the Seto-Ohashi bridge. It was beautiful. There were wedding pictures being taken which we almost accidentally photobombed. We headed towards another part of the beach but the walk way was roped off saying "DANGER." I pointed and said "danger and he laughed and said "DANGER ZONE!" super enthusiastically before ducking under. So I followed. On the other side he indicated there were shellfish that could easily be caught and that it was a rad place for a barbecue. Also that the sun set was beautiful in that spot. But it was like 2, and we weren't sticking around for that. 

On the way back to the car he pointed to the wedding party and said that this season was full of weddings (in a mix of Japanese and English) cause we'd seen like 3 parties basically in one day. I said I understood and he asked me if I had a wedding. I was like "HELL NO! Anata wa?" and he was like "HELL NO!" so we high fived.  
We drove around for a little bit and he indicated that the road near Seto Ohasi bridge is popular for street car races. He kept saying Saturday in Japanese but Sunday in English and I realized he had the days memorized one off (this seems like a common problem, and I think it has something to do with us counting the start of the week at different points. Like for us its Monday but I think it may be Sunday for Japan, because Sunday is Nichiyoobi and I'm pretty sure that translates basically to day or first day.) I tried to indicate this, but we both just ended up laughing mostly, and he was just like "SENSEI! ABCDEFG~". We also ended up talking about Yakuza, cause I heard that Marugame was full of em. I asked and he was like "chotto---" (A lil) and said mostly it was young kids trying to act like yakuza--or the ever infamous yankee kids. He did say my apartment was closeish to a yakuza house! KOWAI! We got on that subject when talking about cigarettes, cause he said malboros were expensive and I was like "Kinishi-ne--ah fuck--kinishimazen." He nodded and then I mumbled the rude/yankee kid version Nobu taught me last weekend when we'd been out drinking (Nobu is hella funny. He likes to say he's American, not Japanese, and fucking loves being rowdy.) "Kinishineeyo." (I don't care/ closest I can get to I don't give a fuck). He laughed and said it was okay.  Then I said I smoked Camels in america, and some how after we got on the subject of weed. He indicated that the Yakuza made their money off it in a big way. 

It was a pretty rad time, if I do say so myself, even with the language gap. Who needs to talk when you can mime, right?

Yesterday I met up with Masamichi. Thursday I had indicated that I hadn't eaten Udon yet, which Kagawa is famous for, and he said he wanted to take me out to grab some before work. Sadly I had impromptu Udon the day before, but I didn't wanna ruin the parade so I just kinda mummed it up about that. We went to this hella awesome Udon shop right down the street from my house. Masamichi knows the owner (he knows like everybody, dude is so popular.) We grabbed Udon and-WOAH! MASAMICHI SUCCEEDED IN ACTUALLY TEACHING ME HOW TO HOLD CHOPSTICKS. 
This is the face of a winner. A proud, proud winner. 

After, since  I had some hella free time, we decided to go on a little tour. On Shikoku there's this special pilgrimage called the 88 temples. Kukai, or Kobodashi, was this famous Buddhist priest years and years ago who studied in China and came back to influence the spread of esoteric Buddhism. He was born in Zentsu-ji in 774 near the 75th tempe, which is hella close and where we stopped first. Apparently its the main one. It was huge. Masamich took me around and taught me how to wash my hands before prayer, and light incense. (I got one hella rad Japanese Dad.) Then he bought me a fortune which Coco later translated. Basically there's these options: Best luck, Good luck, Average Good luck, Average Luck, Late Good luck, and No Luck. I got late good luck. It advised I start things in Autumn, not Spring, and that I shouldn't cheat on people if I'm dating them. Also that if I'm sick, eventually I'll get better, and I might find something I lost. (I wonder what it is.) 
He also had me ring this giant bell but I was hella timid about it so he was like "Do it harder!" 

Five roof tower at Zentsu-shi temple. 

Next we went to 76, which is also in Zentsu-ji and 77 in Sakaide. Masamichi keeps encouraging me to just ride my bike to Sakaide. He says its close enough. I'm not so sure about that. It takes like 15 minutes by train. I may try it, but I may wait till I buy my own bike. The one I got on loan is a little beat up and not the quickest. 
Giant Prayer Beads at 76
One of the temple buildings of 77
Kitsune statue at 77. 

From what I can tell each one is devoted to something special. 75 was dedicated to ease of child birth and rearing children, 76 seemed devoted to study, and 77 to health. I could be off base on this and a quick google would clear things up, but right now this has devolved into quite the long thing, so I think I'll save it for next time. Each one sells lucky charms though for everything in general and I bought Masamichi and me little matching bell charms. 

At 77 Masamichi and I were crowded by some pigeons (hato) and he asked what pigeons say in English so I said "CooCooCoo" and he pointed at me and went "Just like you! Coolcoolcool!" Apparently pigeons are the symbol for peace. The emergency number is 119 for fire and ambulance,(kukushi I think is the word for ambulance). And apartment buildings are called mansions which confused the heck out of me when one of my students was talking about where he lived and I thought he must be hella rich. 
After the shrines we went up Blue Mountain, which is close to my house. There's a park up there not many people go to that is absolutely beautiful, and apparently full of sakura blossoms in the spring. It'll probs take me an hour to climb it but god dammit, I'ma do that (as soon as I'm over a small cold I happen to have at this moment) and write some hella inspired something or others. At the top there were two women playing ukuleles at the look out point. (I can't think of a better word for this. It's like I'm losing my English the more I have to think about it.) The view was breath taking. 

 Gold Tower
 Seto Ohashi bridge. 
There was also a small playground, but sadly no swingsets. I have yet to find any swingsets capable of being used by some one of my height. There was also an ancient tomb which adds a nice bit of creep to the park that will surely chase me off way before night fall. 
Whats gonna crawl outta that thing? Nobody knows. 
All in all, been having a blast. Should have another update coming up next week after Halloween wraps up. This week I have to dress up in costume for all my classes. 
Coco and me. She's pretty much da besssssss. 

Soon Print Oriented Bastards will be running my story "Wolf's Wake" so be ready for that. Got a few other publications coming out, but no set date yet. Been working on *gasp* FLASH FICTION! Which has been a lot of fun, and still pushing through slow line by line when it comes to the two YA novels and the short story I've been penning. Starting to think I have too many irons in the fire. But at least it gives me the chance to procrastinate on my writing by writing. 

Talk to you soon bros. Enjoy the info dump.

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