Sunday found 8 or so of us, the core 4th Floor Team and a handful of associates, shivering inside of a pathetic excuse for a bus, steadily trundling our way towards Destiny. That’s right, we were headed to Safari Land. Just in case you’ve somehow forgotten, I live in Japan. This was a fact I had to remind myself as well, as my feeble mind tried in vain to visualize anything remotely resembling the plains of Africa in the land of samurai, shinkansen, sushi, and skyscrapers.
After disembarking from our rusty freezer on wheels, we were all fleeced to the order of 3000Y, and then unleashed upon the majesty, the wonder, that is… Safari Land!
As it happened, our first clue that we had mistakenly ventured into an alternate reality was the motor pool. Mistake not the true nature of these vehicles!
Fukuoka was the chosen location for celebrating the completion of our first quarter at APU, and Fukuoka was the place we found ourselves bright and early on a Thursday morning after a 2hr bus ride through the boondocks of Kyushu. It was Ting, Satoshi, and I’s first time in Fukuoka. It was just like any other big city, pleasantly beautiful so long as you didn’t look too closely.
We had the run of the place for two whole days and must have walked 40k easily once everything was said and done. My pictures from the trip are reflective of my mood at the time, which is to say, light-hearted.
That is by far the strangest pair of mannequins I’ve ever seen…
Camiguin… +10,000 points if you’ve heard of it before. Camiguin, as it turns out, is a small tropical island towards the southern edge of the Philippine Archipelago, and Camiguin is where I shall be doing my thesis fieldwork.
My official degree title here is Masters of Science in International Cooperation Policy. My unofficial degree title, based upon my chosen specialization, is Masters of Science in Environmental Policy and Administration. To delve further, my thesis theme is community-based forestry management policy within Southeast Asia.
Wednesday afternoon found me desperate to get a haircut. I hadn’t had one since mid-June and things were getting quite a bit out of hand above the brow. Just prior to my first trip to Japan I shaved my head, and as such had no use for a haircut while I was there. Accordingly, Wednesday was to be my first time setting foot inside a Japanese salon. That lengthy build-up might seem a bit unnecessary, after all haircutting is haircutting, right? No, not right. Sit back, relax, and allow me to regale you with tales of such splendor your eyes will grow as big as side-plates…
My presentation completed successfully, I staggered back home and collapsed into bed for a well-earned nap. 9pm rolled around and I decided it might be time to get some work done – ahh yes, the hours us students keep – so I plopped down into my chair and commenced with the email checking. At this point in my life, after well over a decade of computer use, I’m pretty sure that if one were to sit down in front of said machine and *not* immediately commence with the email checking, his head would explode right there on the spot. We can make allowances for lack of an internet connection of course, but be warned, there is ritual written all over your lil’ PC, and you are it’s unknowing slave.
In any case, I checked my email and found one waiting for me from Prof. Zhang entitled “Could you give me a hand?” — odd. Thinking it was some sort of class mass-email, I opened it, and was further surprised to see that it was addressed solely to me. My surprise gave way to sheer astonishment as I read the contents therein:
Sunday found me rising early after little sleep in the pursuit of some authentic Japanese culture. As much as I love APU, being stuck up here on the mountain most days makes for a decidedly sterile experience if one is searching for a deep exposure to the innate currents of Japanese life.
Choki-san had invited me the week before to spend this Sunday visiting a Buddhist temple with her in order to observe the Fall foliage. I can confidently say that Japanese people, as a rule, are the most appreciative and devoted culture in the world when it comes to honoring the shifting of the seasons. To quote a relevant passage from an often ridiculed movie, “The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.”
…you find yourself making powerpoint slides on a Friday night… Gah. Anyhow, this is the life I lead these days. Tuesday afternoon is the last group presentation in Prof. Zhang’s Theories of Sustainable Development class, and it just so happens to be my group — big mistake. While all of my group-mates are intelligent and can satisfactorily articulate their ideas in English… well, for the scam we’re cookin’ they wanted someone who could take the heat and take it like a pro.
Well, as of now I should be back to the regular every-other-day or so cycle of journal updates. In regards to my complete blackout the past 7 days, let’s just say that I juggle a lot of plates around here, something I’m usually highly successful at… and that last week about Thursday I dropped one plate, then another, and then they all just came crashing down.
No worries though, it’s all sorted out now, and the DJ train be back on track, homey!
Today, being Wednesday, was shamisen day again with Ishikawa-sensei. Like a good little student I had practiced my shamisen every day last week (excepting Saturday…), and showed up at Ishikawa-sensei’s house confident that I could play the 8 measures ordered of me without too much effort. I seated myself, we tuned our shamisen(no plural in Japanese you know), and then like an expectant mother he waited as I tentatively gripped my bachi…