In Which Friends Make a Visit and Risk is Played
The other day a couple of friends, Eric and Satoko, who live in nearby Toride, came to visit me and Katie. Eric and Katie work for the same company that places native English speakers into schools and attended the same orientation in Tokyo, along with Jody, and then later introduced me (different company, never trained in Tokyo, umm, never trained). Anyway, we took Eric and Satoko to see the Ushiku Daibutsu, but it was closed. Not that you can't see it still, but we couldn't go inside it and up the elevator and look out all around the Daibutsu at the cemetaries and the surrounding fields and forests and towns. Eric said he could see the Daibutsu from his school in Toride on a clear day. That's pretty far actually. It takes about twenty five minutes or so by train to get to Toride from here. I didn't realize it could be seen that far, but it is the tallest Buddha in the world, and much taller than lots of other statues in general. Anyway, we ended up going to eat ramen and then shopping at Toys R'Us. Well I went into the store next door to Toy R'Us because they were having like a 70% off sale on clothes and I have this addiction to sales, so...everyone else went to Toys R'Us. I also found out our Toys R'Us was the first in Japan, and perhaps the only one in Ibaraki (our prefecture, which is like a state), if I'm remembering Katie's facts correctly. Eric bought a little blue posable toy man which he placed in his blazer pocket. I bought clothes clothes clothes! While I was behind the changing curtain, even though I'd spoken in Japanese with the girl who was helping me, she had gone and got a guy who works there too to come over and say through the curtain, "May I help you?" I answered in Japanese that I was fine, and I heard him turn around and whisper, "He speaks Japanese!" and the girl whispered back in her horrified voice, "I'm so sorry!!" Then a girl at the purchasing counter whispered, "What's the matter?" and the first girl whispered back, "I had him ask the foreigner if he needed help in English, but he speaks Japanese!" Then lots of giggling. I could imagine their hands reaching to cover their mouths while I pulled my shirt over my head. If you giggle here, it is a rule that you should cover your mouth while you do so. Frankly I think it heightens the experience of giggling and plan to continue doing it in America. Maybe I can start a trend. You also have to hunch over a little while you do it. Just a tip.
Afterwards we all went back to my place and watched The Suicide Club, a Japanese movie about well, it's hard to explain, but you should go watch it. Satoko and I discussed some of the English translations in the subtitles and how they had got a couple wrong, and how some they couldn't translate literally because if they did, it wouldn't make sense to English speakers. This is the most difficult thing about learning Japanese for English speakers, and vice versa, learning English for Japanese: it's not enough to simply learn the vocabulary and grammar, you also have to learn the culture, or else you just won't get how it works sometimes.
Anyway Eric is an artist and he has a cool little site where he posts drawings and scribblings and pieces of narrative. You should check it out here.
We also played Risk on Sunday at Beth and Kevin's house. It took four hours or so, a really fast game. Beth and I were a team. We held out to the end, but were crushed by Pete and Erin before we could throw our cards down in the final round and get gazillions of armies to trash their peach colored army with. Next time we won't try to hold Asia for so damned long. You can never hold Asia!