Sunday, April 8, 2012

In which I revel in sakura and cultural ambassador the heck out of everybody

Yesterday I went with a bunch of other girls from the dorm to all you can eat pizza, which was exciting because I had exactly one piece of pizza.  It was goat cheese and honey pizza, which was...interesting? It was better than normal pizza, but not something that I would go out of my way to eat again.  BUT there was also all you can eat salad and pasta and dessert so it wasn't like my money went to waste.
And then seven of us crammed into a purikura booth, because unless someone gets an elbow in the eye, it's not an authentic purikura experience.  Also, I ate Kim's head.  It was great.

Today I went out to dinner with Ton-chan, Shou-chan, and Kocchan as a "congrats on entering graduate school/getting a job" party.  We went to a Chinese restaurant (which Shou-chan says is the best Chinese restaurant in Nagoya) because Ton-chan really wanted to eat Peking duck for some reason?

(This is what Peking duck looks like, by the way.  Ton-chan took a picture when it came, which is good, because it vaporized pretty much instantly.)

I think this is the second or third time in my life I have ever eaten duck.  It was pretty good!  But the crazy giant gyoza were better.  They were like GIANT GYOZA POCKETS.  OM NOM NOM.  Also, apparently coconut milk is a totally acceptable adult drink and is also delicious?  I am very okay with this.

Meanwhile, Shou-chan regaled us with tales of graduate student woe (she just entered the master's of Japanese education program at Nanzan).  She is convinced that I will die in September, because if Nanzan's program is this intense, Harvard's must be TWENTY TIMES AS INTENSE.  On the other hand, I'll be spending 8-12 hours a week in class, whereas she's spending 13.5 and has to do research on top of that?  Yeah, I think she's got it worse.  But hopefully she won't die, because it would be super sad if she turned into a graduate zombie!

Then we decided to go to Mizuho Undoujo Higashi (Mizuho Exercise Ground East!), the most unfortunately named subway stop ever (mostly because of how the English announcer on the train pronounces it: MiZUho UnDOUjo HiGAshi ahahaha, awkward).  But we didn't go because of its exceedingly unfortunate name!  Instead we went for SAKURA.  Yes, the sakura (cherry blossoms) have started blooming, which means that it's the season when everyone in Japan suddenly becomes excessively obsessed with flowers!  I can totally see why, since sakura are GORGEOUS and I am a fan of staring at them excessively.  Also, at MiZUho UnDOUjo HiGAshi they had lights along the river, which meant that it looked like this:

(Picture totally stolen from Kocchan.  It was also taken with her phone camera, so it's not too high quality.)

(Stolen from Ton-chan.  Because I am stealing from everyone equally!  There will most likely be more pictures later~)

And then we were talking about how not everyone in America is Christian (apparently this is very surprising to many people; WAY TO GO, AMERICA) and Mormons?*
Then suddenly we started talking about Glee?
"Hey, hey, you're American!  Have you seen Glee?"
"Yeah, I've seen part of it."
"Kurt is super cute, right?  Even though he's gay.  He's my favorite."
"He has a really nice voice."
"Hey, as an American, what do you think of him?"
"Uh...what do you mean?"
"I mean, what do you think of him being gay?"
"Uh...I dunno, I have a number of non-straight friends.**  It doesn't seem particularly unusual to me."
"REALLY?  You have gay friends?  What are they like?"
"Normal human beings?"
And then I wound up explaining about how you can be a normal human being and not be straight and also about what "genderqueer"*** and "asexual" mean and Ton-chan said, "Yeah, it seems like there are a lot more people like that in the States but it's probably just that people in Japan don't want to say anything," and I was like, "YES, YOU GET IT, OKAY, SUCCESS."
It's kind of funny how much time I spend talking to people about gender and sexuality given my research topic.  On the other hand, maybe it's not all that surprising?  I did, after all, go to Brown.  And some of my research is about gender differences.  So.

So then we ate baked sweet potatoes (because there was a random stand selling them nearby?) and Ton-chan and Kocchan took a million pictures because they actually remembered to bring cameras and Shou-chan and I made awkward sound effects at each other, which is to say that we spoke Japanese, because you can hold a conversation that's 50% sound effects, if you so desire.  Not even kidding.  I will bata bata and kotsu kotsu and bo- to suru all the days.  Well, not so much the last one, because it's the sound you make when you space out.

So, yeah!  It was pretty fun!

On a final and completely unrelated note, have a hilarious quote from the article I was reading this morning:

"Influential men in NAS [National Association of Shrines] are persuaded that the problem [of young people not buying Ise amulets, jingu taima, to enshrine in their home altars] is exacerbated by the homophone taima, which also means marijuana. One priest in Toyama found that intial interest among the young gave way to dismay on learning the taima on offer could not be smoked."

Ahahahahaha, crazy young people.

*"You know those people?  On their bikes?  They are in twos on bikes?  And they wear helmets?  And they want you to join their religion?"


***If anyone knows the proper Japanese word for this please let me know because I have had two discussions about gender identity in which this has come up now and it's really hard to keep saying, "It's like not being a lady and not being a dude except sometimes it's like being BOTH and sometimes it's like something completely unrelated; it depends on the person."

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