Friday, November 19, 2010

Free Movies in Kyoto!

I've been fortunate enough to have been living in Kyoto for the past month or so. When I was a student at Kansai Gaidai University, I came here often, but it was completely different from being able to spend all of my time here.

I have been doing a great deal of local tourism in this time; after all, who would want to leave Kyoto? (I know I don't). The gorgeous Fall colors have made it especially easy to stay put.

I have been living steps from the Kamo River and have been riding along it daily. I have been merely 15 minutes by bike from Sanjo, where one can get lost for hours in the labyrinth of shops in the arcade. I've also been close to beautiful temples such as Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion. The latter is one of my favorite sights in Kyoto.

Another local trip I took was to Arashiyama. A friend and I went to view the Fall colors, or kouyou. This is a common activity in Japan currently. The leaves were just starting to turn, but it was worth the trip, nonetheless.

After a full day of mountain climbing (small mountains!) and walking along the river, the best part awaited: a "light up" in the woods. A small park was illuminated at night to reveal an entrancing scene.

These are just a few things I have been up to in the nearby areas. Some of my adventures have been planned and others have not. Some have been what you would go to Kyoto for, and some what you might go to any metropolis to experience. However, some have just been unexpected; for example, the Spongebob Squarepants Movie.

I went to a small outdoor mall this week. I had passed it before, while doing errands, and had decided to finally walk around it a bit. After leaving a store, I suddenly heard the Spongebob Squarepants theme song blaring from the mall's courtyard. I was instantly curious.

The movie was playing, in Japanese, (though the theme song remained in English) on a big screen TV in the court yard. I was a big fan of the show during college, but had never seen the movie. The randomness of, of all things, the Spongebob Squarepants Movie, playing while I was shopping was too delightful; how could I not stop and watch for a bit? There were nice tables and chairs, so, I sat to enjoy the film. Moreover, my friend had just sent me candy corn from the States for Halloween, and it was with me after stopping at the post office. I had everything I needed for an American movie night. Sometimes my unplanned outings are my most interesting ones.

Kyoto has truly captured my heart. I could stay here for quite a while...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And They Never Wore Clean Clothes Again...

I've had some time off for a while. My apologies for neglecting this blog for a bit.

I've been staying with a friend recently. Unfortunately, her washer is broken at the moment. Two nights ago, she said  "I'm going to the laundromat." 

I'm a habitual laundry procrastinator.  Due to that, as well as the fact that I still had clean clothes for a day or so, I almost put off doing laundry for one more day.  But, no, the thought of freshly washed undies, one day early, was too sweet. 

We got to the laundromat and set up shop.  We waited for the washer/dryers to work their magic.  (Holy fuppety!  They self-load the detergent!)  I sat chatting on IM and playing Bejeweled Blitz on my iPhone, while wishing I remembered to bring a book; Megan read the one she brought.   About halfway through the spin-cycle, Megan rose to call her mom.  She suddenly looked a little perturbed.  "There's a guy outside with his thing out..."  I looked up at her in shock.  Surely she didn't mean....  No, she did mean that.  

It happened quickly.  Megan narrated the whole scene for me.  In truth, I was too scared to look.  I didn't want to give him the attention he obviously sought. It was just Megan and I there, so, I tried my best to stay cool.  Apparently, I did a much better job than I initially thought, since Megan reported later that I did look calm.

Apparently, he exposed himself for a while, then he masturbated for some time, then he just shook himself around for a bit.  (Again, this was happening rapidly; much faster than I'm making it sound).  We were trying to discuss what we should do. He started walking toward the door.  I called the police.  Once he saw my phone, he bolted. 

Telling the police "There's a man outside with his penis hanging out" was an interesting start.  I'm certain I've learned the clinical word for penis before, but I don't exactly have the chance to use it all that often.  I could only think of a juvenile word for it.  It was the equivalent of saying "A man has his wee-wee sticking out."  It was so embarrassing!  (Editor's note: I have since learned that the word in question both carries a childish and lurid connotation).  I figured, "I'm a foreigner; at least they can understand me.  It's better than if I didn't know the word at all.  What if I hadn't?"  

The police came in less than ten minutes.  There were three officers; two male, one female.  Megan and I had the impression that they brought the young, female one for our sake, which we much appreciated.  They asked us questions.  Megan described the person to the best of her ability.  Unfortunately, the laundromat had a thick (and one thin) stripe painted along all the windows, which hit right where his face was. It seems like they were actually put there for the privacy of the laundry patrons.  They were unfortunately a bit too effective. 

She couldn't describe his face, but knew that he had no hair.  He also fashioned a short, denim skirt from jeans for the occasion.  Yes, that's right, this guy wasn't just a flasher, he was an industrious one.  He actually went out and made Flashwear!  (Yeah...  I joke now, but, given that there was a man in there with us, just a few minutes prior, and a bit after, it did seem like he was out there waiting for the two girls to be on their own.  That was a bit disturbing).  Beyond Megan's description, we acted out our reaction to the matter. 

The officers told us to stay put while they drove around and looked for him.  After about 30 minutes, they came back.  They hadn't found him.  They asked for another account of what we saw and how we reacted.  They told us that if they figured out anything, they'd let us know. Then, they gave us a ride home, which we happily accepted. 

On the way to the car, we pointed out that there was a video camera outside, which he would have walked directly in front of, according to Megan.  They did not seem particularly interested, which bothered us.  I'm hoping that they only reacted that way to not rile us up or raise our hopes. 

If either of us need clean clothes again before Megan's washer is fixed, they're going in the sink. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010


お久しぶりですね。(It's been a while, hasn't it?) I haven't been updating for a while, so I'll go back in time a bit for the next few entries.

After school wrapped up in December, I went to my first company party. These 宴会, or enkai, are company drinking parties. I'll tell you all about it in today's entry, "Shall We Drink?"

I was a bit nervous about attending one as I don't drink. I don't mean that in the "Oh, I seldom drink" sense, like most people. I don't drink at all. Don't get the wrong idea. I have no problem with alcohol; I just think it tastes vile. It's a little odd coming from the granddaughter of a bar owner, but, oh, does it taste vile...

I'd learned all about these shindigs in my Business Japanese classes, but, of course, such information is only a loose guideline; how do these things pan-out in real life? In addition to worrying about protocol for socializing with the workplace, I was still on my crutches at the time. "What am I getting myself into?" I wondered.

To my delight, part of the fee for the party included a bus chartered by the school. It was coming to pick me up about 1/8 of a mile from my apartment. I hobbled to the stop on my four legs and waited. The bus ride there provided a big surprise for some of the wives of my co-workers. Suddenly, a foreigner was on the bus. One of the wives started talking to me...well... sort of... She kept asking my friend questions about me in Japanese, assuming I didn't speak the language. Despite my answering each question and her understanding, she still didn't seem to get that I spoke it. Finally, I interjected that I was perfectly capable of talking to her. She was a bit surprised, but then her husband joked "Oh, well, you can speak Japanese, but I don't know about my wife..."

Although I was initially nervous, the party turned out to be really enjoyable. After paying our entry fee (equivalent to about 50 US dollars) we sat down to dinner. I was quite surprised, as I had expected there to only be drinking. The meal consisted of several small gourmet dishes. I learned that I do not like escargot. To my surprise, dessert was a slice of watermelon. As Japan has essentially turned cake design into a fine art, this was startling. Consider the affair's admission fee; for fifty dollars, there should be cake.

After the meal, three of my male co-workers burst onto the stage in drag. The site of them in shiny, silver lamé dresses, blonde wigs, heels and makeup sent the room into hysterics. They sang one song for us, then ran off the stage. I only wished I had my camera.

The next of our festivities was a "game." Since they pulled out a Bingo caller, I assumed that is what we would be playing. Their idea of "game" was much better, however. They simply called our raffle ticket numbers until each attendee won a prize. I was given an extra one and was quite touched.

Next, we had a bit more drinking and time to chat. I had a nice time with co-workers I see only briefly in the day-to-day. Suddenly, we were all called up to sing the school song, which closed the evening. I'm glad to have not missed the event.