Friday, March 28, 2003

More potpourri...

I am writing this from an Internet cafe in Hachioji. I finished work fairly early so I decided to stop by, since the computer lab at Soka is more than likely closed. I am in the "Ladies`s Section", with rows of couches, computers, and a few TVs, some with PlayStations attached. The "Men`s Section", where men can play video games is a lot...um, manlier, with cigarette smoke hanging thickly in the air and black computers. The computers in the men`s section are a lot nicer and newer than the ladies` section....no fair! Anywayz, the first time I came here, I was with Don and we accidentally wandered over to the "Men`s Side", which seemed kind of intimidating anyways, when one of the employees told us in an embarrassed tone "Ladies side, this way". Last time I was here, a caucasian man accidentally wandered over to the ladies` side so one of the employess approached him and told him that this was the "ladies` side". God forbid you should wander into the ladies`s side! But these Internet Cafes are something, I tell you. They have big comfortable couches you can sleep on, they serve meals....and I even think they have showers! One of the Italian exchange students, Valentina, has a boyfriend who stayed in Japan for about a month just to be with her and I heard that he stayed in an Internet cafe the whole time because it was cheaper than staying in a hotel! I can imagine...this internet cafe costs about 300 yen (just under 2 dollars) per hour....so if you stay 24 hours, that`s 7200 yen, or about 70 dollars or so, which is not bad...most Japanese hotels are more expensive than that....

Thursday, March 27, 2003

A potpourri...

I just want to start off by giving a BIG apology for my neglect of the blog this past month! SORRY!! LO SIENTO!! JE M`EXCUSE!! GOMEN NE!! Anywayz, soooo much has happened since I have last written. March 3rd, I came back to Japan. I was able to get back in the swing of things pretty well....ironically enough, I got back in the swing of things in Japan quicker than I did when I went back to the US. Everything just seemed so wierd....I guess being in Japan for over 5 months does that to ya ;-)

I think at this point, if I try to relate every single thing in chronological order I will get tired out, so I will be writing about stuff as it comes. From the evening of March 19th until the morning of March 25th, I was in the Kansai region of Japan with Tsveti, Jojit, Tomi, and Brian. I had, for the most part, an absolutely wonderful time. For those of you who don`t know, when I went to Japan for the first time in the summer of 2000, I stayed in the Kansai region, in the city of Kobe. I am happy to report that Kobe, and the rest of the Kansai region, is as beautiful as ever. Kobe still has it`s unexplainable "charm" and atmosphere that`s more relaxed and more easy-going than the cold urban atmosphere of Tokyo. Our train rides were picturesque, especially when it was sunny. You could see the ocean on one side and the sloping of the mountains on the other. The buildings, while not the prettiest, seemed brighter than the drab Tokyo buildings. The dorm we stayed in had a beautiful few of the ocean and the bridge connecting Honshu to Awajima Island (I think that`s the name). It is actually the longest suspended bridge in the world (or at least used to be). When I was in Kobe in the summer of 2000, there were two guys who would always skip out on excursions or skip class to go to the beach. As I looked out over the sparkling blue water, I now understand why. I can honestly say that I fell in love with the Kansai region all over again. Yet, when I thought of the Tokyo area, I somehow missed it. I suppose that Tokyo and Hachoji have grown on me...maybe I have become comfortable in Hachioji...or maybe it`s the people that I have become attached to. Speaking of the people. Jojit and Tomi claimed that the Kansai girls are much prettier than the Tokyo girls. They looked a lot plainer for sure and I guess that`s what appealed to them. I don`t know...in my opinion, the Tokyo men are somehow better looking. And yes, I did pick up a hint of the famed Kansai ben (Kansai dialect). I felt that people spoke faster and were harder to understand. On the first night, a Japanese couple from Kobe, who are good friends of Tsveti`s mom, took us out to dinner at a really nice Chinese restaurant (the food was divine!). Unfortunately, I found them very hard to understand, especially the lady because she spoke so fast that at first she seemed to be muttering, fortunately, I was able to understand her better as the evening wore on.

As far as my situation with immigration....well, that`s a long story. When I arrived at Narita from the US, they took away my work permit, telling me, of course that I could get another one. Well, about a week later, decide to start the paperwork for a new permit so, thinking that Berlitz had to fill something out, I called my boss about it and my reward was that I wasn`t allowed to work until I had acquired my new work permit. It sucked because I was losing money by not working, but at the same time, it was a blessing because I could go to Kansai without having to worry about taking time off (I was hesistant about asking for days off especially after having been gone for two weeks). But anywayz, I went to the immigration office in the nether reaches of Tachikawa (my favorite town...not) and waited for an hour, only for them to tell me that I needed a letter of permission from Soka (I had gone to them before going to Tachikawa and they never told me about a letter of permission). I must justify myself here because the first time I got a work permit, Soka took care of it, so I didn`t know about needing a letter. Anway, I finally got the letter and went back to the immigration office and waited THREE hours!! There were a LOT of people and the poor clerk that took care of my permit seemed sooo frazzled! But finally I got my permit so I will be able to go back to work tomorrow and set up my new work schedule (woo hoo!)

As for today....I woke up at 1pm (oops) to a PA announcement that I couldn`t understand...something about soji (clean-up) in the kitchen. I thought "Damn, there`s no way they want us to clean the kitchen now...they hadn`t even said anything to us about it" so I stayed in bed. They kept making announcements that I decided to ignore until finally they made an announcement in broken English saying that we couldn`t go into the kitchen until 5pm because they were cleaning it. On my way to the bathroom, I saw Annie and she told me that they had hired a cleaning company to give the kitchen and lounge area a good scrubbing and that the announcements had been for us to go and clear out our stuff. I freaked out because I thought that perhaps they had thrown ALL my food away, even the stuff from the fridge. And I had just bought a new jar of ube jam from the Philipino store. But later I talked to some staff members and they said that they didn`t touch any of the food, so I was relieved about that.

Later on, I biked on over to the Hachioji City Hall to pick up my new alien registration card, my third one since coming to Japan....oy! I was able to be quick about it even though the ride to City Hall is a relatively long one. Anywayz....I have so much more that I want to write about, so "to be continued".

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