Saturday, November 26, 2011

In which Geoff is convinced that I naturally gravitate toward super sketchy things and we visit an awesome castle

I have been in Japan for more than two months now, conducting fieldwork at shrines and talking with priests, and yet absolutely no one has tried to convert me to anything yet.

Until yesterday.

When I met my first Japanese Jehovah's Witness.

This random woman came up to me on the street as I was walking to Gosha Shrine, asked me if I could read Japanese, and then thrust two pamphlets into my hands.

They are entitled "Isn't believing in creation rational?" and "What stance does the Bible take concerning sex?"

So, uh, yeah.  That was exciting.

So then I had penmanship class, where Nakano-san decided that my writing my name in katakana next to my finished pieces just looked awkward, which meant that it was time for me to pick a PENNAME.  And since I didn't have an exceptionally good ideas for a penname, she picked one for me.


For those of you who can't read kanji, the first one means "blue" and the second one means "brilliant, gorgeous" or "flower."

Her explanation was, "You wear blue a lot, and you're young so you're bright like a flower!"  Better than anything I could come up with.

Also, her handwriting is SO GORGEOUS, I don't even know.  I am overwhelmingly jealous.

Anyway, this is what I spent the whole lesson working on:


Anyway, afterward we had an English conversation lunch, which turned out to be more like a Japanglish conversation lunch, because most of the women didn't know enough English to get by on English only.  But it was still fun!  And SO DELICIOUS.  OM NOM NOM NOM.

Also, I sat in seiza* for more than 3 1/2 hours. I think I should win an award.  Afterwards, I was OUTRAGEOUSLY aware of my knees, though. It was kind of creepy.

Anyway, that evening Geoff came in to Nagoya, so I met him at the station, got him to his hotel, and then we decided to go for a walk.  As these things normally go, we wound up walking really, really far, which is to say to Sakae, where I showed him the time-machine-spaceship-dinosaur-topiary-garden-shopping-mall-concert-hall that is Oasis 21, and then we somehow wound up in the sex district, with random sketchy people all around trying to sell us naked girls.  It was...exciting?  It has made Geoff believe that I am completely incapable of leaving the house without somehow stumbling into terrible mischief, which is probably not a good thing but maybe also somewhat accurate.
Note: I don't normally wind up in the sex district at night. In fact, I cannot say I had ever done it before last night.**  It's not something I'm planning on doing again either, since I like my sidewalk with a little less vomit on it.
Anyway, we escaped in one piece with no naked girls and only minimal mental scarring.

So today I met up with Geoff after lunch in Osu Kannon (which is near his hotel), where he had discovered...

...a kofun.

If you don't know what a kofun is, it's an ancient Japanese burial mound.  And there was one in a random park in Osu Kannon.
(Obviously, time has worn a lot of it away, and unless you know what you're looking at or read the sign, you'll probably just think it's a weirdly shaped hill.)

We also saw a Freshness Burger, which Geoff tells me is actually a pretty decent place to eat.

And also this kind of creepy drawing on a building which reminded both of us of Maromi.

The leaves have finally started changing colors!  FINALLY.

So then we hopped on the subway and rode to Meijo Park.

Where there is a spiral mound thing.

And a windmill.

And a sundial.

And Nagoya Castle.

Nagoya Castle has a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge moat.

We decided to go inside, because, hey, it's a CASTLE.

Here's one of the famous "golden dolphins" from the roof of the castle.  It's called a golden dolphin in English, but in Japanese it's called a "golden killer whale."  It doesn't look like either a dolphin or a killer whale, to be honest.


And just in case you felt like storming the castle and climbing the walls, there was a lovely line of 30 cm long spear blades to impale you...

Did I mention that it's a mortarless castle?  YEAH.

Anyway, we had fun figuring out what the best way to siege the castle would be (answer: there is no best way; you're screwed no matter how you attack) and then climbed to the top of the castle to check out of the view.




And then the castle was closing so we headed out.

Super tiny dolphin-killer-whale-dragon-lion-fishies!

By the time we left the grounds it had already gotten dark.

Which meant that my camera had gotten super pathetic.

So then we went and got dinner and then I headed back here and now I am TIRED.  GOOD NIGHT.

By the way, if any of you want know what Alex was in Nagoya for (aside from eating turkey and pwning me at taiko), he has a blog post up.  And I am definitely not subtly pressuring him to update more frequently.  Because that would be underhanded and also sneaky.

*Formal sitting position, where you sit on your heels.  Being able to sit in seiza for 30 minutes is considered impressive for a gaijin.  A lot of my classmates in the States could only manage it for about 10-15 minutes.

**I didn't even know that that's where the sex district was!  But now I know.  Oh dear.

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