We are well into the New Year, and many things have happened here since my break, when Kayci came to visit. We visited Shimonoseki and Beppu, then took trains to Hiroshima, Mijayima, and Himeji on the way to Tokyo, where we shopped for used manga in Akihabara. Kayci flew home, and I stopped overnight in Osaka on my 23-hour ride on various trains back to Fukuoka. I spent New Year’s Eve at the house of my Japanese tutor, Naoki, where I met his brother, and had a great time. On New Year’s Day we ate traditional foods in the morning, like fish eggs, black beans, and fluffy cake, and went to visit Miyajidake Shrine in Munakata, owner of Japan’s largest shimenawa rope.
It’s usually deserted, but on New Year’s Day it’s visited by thousands of hatsumode pilgrims. Lots of street vendors were serving food, so I ate a hot mochi cake powdered with green tea and filled with sweet red beans. We also shared some okonomiyaki, and Naoki’s brother bought me some octopus on a stick.
I am now teaching English on Saturdays, at the ACROS building.
I took a photo in Tenjin from the Mitsukoshi dept. store:
And another photo three days later, of Nakasu. I walk across this river every time I visit Tenjin.
In class we had our first tea ceremony, on a first class back after the break. We struggled to remember the form.
Amazingly, and unseasonably, it snowed on Jan. 13.
I met with my host family again! They’re a wonderful young couple who took me on a trip to the beach last weekend. Before that, my host mom and I checked out Fukuoka’s Akarenga Cultural Center, which is a very European 1909 copper and brick building in the middle of Fukuoka’s glass and steel monstrosities. We perused the exhibition of childrens’ art on the first floor of Inter Media Station, in Tenjin, and then sat for tea at a café on an upper floor and talked in Japanese. My host mom really wants to visit Morocco; we talked a little about my trip. She gave me a gift! The next day I opened the cute little box, untied the gold ribbon from around the bright green bag, and got out my iTouch (dictionary) to read the Japanese directions on a tiny folded piece of paper. I poured all 25 grams of kudzu starch powder into a cup, mixed it with boiling water, and came up with a viscous, milky substance. I took a sip, and it was delicious!
On Jan. 17 my host parents picked me up from Tenjin, and we went on a day trip to lots of places, including Yusentei Garden and the beach at Itoshima. The trip was so much fun! First, we saw the garden, and had tea in the tea pavilion, and fed the carp.
We drove to Itoshima to see the beach. On the way we stopped for taiyaki, which are fish-shaped pastries: pancake on the outside, with sweet filling. Mine was white bean, and definitely the best taiyaki I’ve ever had. At Itoshima we walked a deserted beach to visit a salt factory made entirely of wood.
As the sun set we sat in a warm café where I had caramel milk tea and talked more. We drove back to Fukuoka, listening to Bob Dylan, and had sushi for dinner in Hakozaki, at a kaitenzushi restaurant (revolving sushi, i.e. conveyor belt). I tried new delicious kinds of fish that I’d never heard of before. We sat by some chefs whom we could watch roll maki, cook eel and fish with a blow torch, and mold various kinds of nigiri. They dropped me off at my dorm, and that was a night.
Yesterday I didn’t do any homework, because it was warm! In the morning I saw that this building is underway near my dormitory:
I got sidetracked walking home, because I wanted to visit a far away building I’d seen every day. I walked through a small tunnel, under some railroad tracks, and across more rails, and discovered that the river I cross every day has a beautiful section masked by the railroad platform.
Today the warm weather continued, so I rode my bike to school and back, but now it’s raining. It was a short-lived reprieve! I can’t wait for spring.
Until next time,