Today I went to participate in a penmanship class that Nakano-san teaches at Gosha Shrine. Despite my past experiences with calligraphy,* it was a lot of fun, and I've decided to try to go every week. It's not incredibly intense and you're actually allowed to chat in class, which is nice. There were only two other students today (apparently there are usually five or six students, but a whole bunch of kids came down with flu, so their moms had to stay home), both of whom were significantly better than me (but then again, there are five year olds who are significantly better than me). BUT Nakano-san was not appalled by my pretty bad handwriting, and actually seemed to think that I was pretty okay for a foreigner.
So this was what I did today:
Next year is the year of the dragon, so we were writing all the different characters for dragon in class.
...I kind of screwed this one up and made the bottom half too small. Apparently the top half is really good, though?
CHARACTER PRACTICE. (That got smudged. Oops.)
MORE CHARACTER PRACTICE.
...like I said, my handwriting is preeeeeetty bad. But hopefully it'll get better?
Anyway, after class we had tea and snacks and talked for about an hour. And some Pretty Insanely Interesting Stuff came up, but before I write about it I have to anonymize the heck out of some information. I also emailed a professor about it, because it is That Interesting. I.e. it may seriously challenge some of the arguments I've seen concerning Shinto vs. the New Religions. SO THERE'S THAT.
SORRY FOR BEING REALLY VAGUE, BUT UM YEAH.
NOW I WILL DISTRACT YOU WITH PICTURES OF RANDOM JAPANESE SNACK FOODS.
This is chocolate chip melon bread. It's pretty tasty. It doesn't have melons in it; the melon refers to the shape. 'cause it looks like a melon.
Not seeing it?
REALLY GOOD NUT CHOCOLATES.
I DON'T HAVE AN ADDICTION; I CAN STOP ANY TIME I WANT.
This is something I picked up at the market at Kawahara Shrine. Imagine a cross between rice cakes and rice krispies, just with little chunks of peanut embedded. SO TASTY.
The coolest thing about them is that they make them AT THE MARKET. They have a big popper basket thing, and right before they're going to pop the rice kernels, they ring a little bell to warn everyone what's going to happen. The popping rice sounds like a cannon being fired, not even kidding.
This is the fresh chocolate cream melon bread I mentioned a while back. It's very tasty! And it doesn't have melons in it.
This is a treat I got from Rokusha Shrine when I visited for the guji lecture. It's little red-bean-paste-stuffed pastries. SO TASTY.
This is senbei, also known as every Japanese snack ever. My dictionary tells me that "senbei" means "rice cookie," but it's more like a rice cracker. In this case, it's flavored with soy sauce and sugar, which sounds gross but tastes pretty good!
In any case, I have to wake up at 6 a.m. tomorrow for a mystery tour, so I should probably go do Productive Things before it is time for me to sleep. But before I go...
Um, you wanna try it for me? I kind of need all my fingers, at the moment...
*My past experiences with calligraphy were so soul-breaking that I really have no way to properly describe them. 12 weeks, the same character over and over and over and over and over in hour and a half-long sessions, 友友友友友 over and over and over and over, sitting in complete silence and writing the same character OVER AND OVER AND OVER, and at the end of the quarter, when I presented my final piece to my sensei, she looked at it, sighed, and said, "Well, you tried." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.