After my adventures in pizza I did hear back from a school friend and met her in Harajuku so we could search for the perfect coffee shop. We settled for a perfectly acceptable substitute - they made great mochas, had inside smoking but a fan going, and rustic tables and chairs and eclectic clientelle so we didn't feel funny looking out over the most well-heeled shopping district in Tokyo. We managed to exchange stories for a couple of hours (lostgirlslair , it's nearly pavlovian, the way I react to sitting at a table with coffee in my hand, assuming the conversation will flow and no one is going anywhere for a while, see what you've done to me?). All good caffeine and nicotine highs must come to an end, though, so we spent an hour or two wandering around the nooks and crannies of Omotesando, looking for the perfect t-shirt.
Not that I wear t-shirts, mind you, but I know people who do, and the "engrish" sayings you can get here are simply not to be believed. If they were at all comprehensible I would try to remember them, but since they're gibberish masquerading as obscure insights in the cool english language I just giggle.
Monday (yesterday) our class activity was a special visit to Meiji Shrine. Now, I've done the Meiji Shrine ... like every time we walked through it last year. That being said, our university arranged a special meeting with the Shinto priests, who did a lovely blessing (and I actually understood the part where they asked the kami to look nicely down on the students from Sophia University!!). We were cleansed while standing in the courtyard of the shrine, then taken in to be blessed in front of the kami, and then taken out again and shown a performance by the temple priests (men and women), and sat on tatami, in seiza, for half an hour or so while the ceremony was going on. They gave us sweets and sake to further purify us (just a sip of sake, mind you, no crazy business). The whole thing was quite lovely. We were not, however, allowed to take pictures. The whole thing will have to simply live in my mind.
Afterwards I went with another classmate back to Harajuku (since Meiji Shrine's front doorstep is Harajuku's entrance) for goth clothes (and other stuff) shopping. She took me to all her favorite shops, including one where another lovely white-haired Japanese man hand makes all of the fantastic clothing creations in his shop (he literally had the leather puncher and his sewing machine behind the counter). Such a smiling happy guy for a man who sells the darkity dark of clothes - although goth fashions are slightly different here it seems, and more into the lace and the layers and the belts and straps than they are into corsets and leather. We argued the merits of buying things in these little shops that no one else in the world has much of a chance to get their hands on (well, unless they visit the smiling proprietor too). Oh, and got crepes. Mine was salmon and creme cheese.
Today was the attack of the thunder and lightning. And torrential rain. Lightning, mind you, that was right on top of us this morning in class. I mean there was absolutely NO pause between light and sound and the noise shook the school buildings and for a few minutes we thought we were all going to be washed away. Now it seems to have relaxed a little - it's not pouring out but everything is wet and cool(er) and there's a calm to the night that's making me sleepy. I had trouble waking up this morning because the sun wasn't shining (clouds again) and I just wanted to sleep in and possibly read a good book. Instead it was off to school for a vocab quiz and a meeting this afternoon with private tutors so I can work on my Japanese outside of school too. We'll see how far I can get with four classes with them, but every little bit has to help.
And now, since I haven't taken pictures, but I succumbed to the temptation of snapping away while at Meiji Shrine, the three pictures that I actually liked from the bunch.
Along a side corridor
Across the open court
(I think everybody has to take this picture at least once - I resisted last year but... well... it's pretty)
Ikebana (flower arranging) tomorrow. Possibly movie Thursday night, and a friend from Texas is coming to stay with me on the weekend!