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05 August 2008 @ 07:44 am
there's a man I see on my way home from school sometimes, a small and thin bent-backed, white-haired man who has a container garden.  A little gray fence screens a square meter of green, with a long-needled pine tree and another leafy vine reaching into the alleyway.  But outside of the perimeter of the fence is where the containers lie.  Three days ago I swore he was pulling carrots from one small pot, and yesterday he was trimming dead leaves off of his geraniums.  Each pot is hardly bigger than the plants I used to have on our porch in LA, although he probably has fifteen pots, some bunched together in one small space like little terraces, four others strung out along the outside of the fence with late-summer plants growing valiantly in the summer humidity.  It's a marker for me, when coming back home, that I'm more than halfway back to my little room - a place to set my burdens down and cool off from the sweating, sweltering, cloying heat of the day (no matter how cold the air conditioners on the trains run they barely cut through the air).

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.

One of the guys from our program (I recognize him by sight, not name

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!
BJ: Domestic Blissdara_starscream on August 5th, 2008 10:39 am (UTC)
Sigh . . . we're all slowly baking. I keep expecting to be brushed with butter and spices.

Will the guy custom-make, or does he work off of a measurement chart? If the former, I must find a way to get my happy fat ass over there pronto. Ninth-class if necessary.
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on August 15th, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
*pets* *hands you an ice cube*

i feel your pain. there have been a couple of days where i've sweated so much that i actually have no more salt in my system.

and i wish he custom made! sadly, you'd have to book a while, and even then it'd be more expensive than the shirt i got, and for the money we're talking you could probably teach yourself how to do it. if i get the chance i'll see if i can take pictures for you to see how he did it and you can see if you can reproduce.
twilightofmagictwilightofmagic on August 5th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
More wonderful description and lovely photos. Storm sounded scary. Hope you take pictures of the ikebana.
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on August 15th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
The storm was actually amazingly crazy, but the other thing I forgot to mention was by the time I bought myself an umbrella it stopped raining - and hasn't rained since then. Coincidence? I think not!

and ikebana pictures at your service! ;)
your royal pie-ness: txtls: duckling enhentrenous88 on August 5th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
Oh! I was only ever in Tokyo for a few days, but this is making me want to go back to Japan right now! So cool that you're there again, having such fascinating encounters.

I love love love "engrish" mottos/sayings, and I wish I had bought some awesome placemats I saw when I was there that said something like, "Welcome to your happy table fun time soup!" ♥
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on August 15th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, it seriously is a blast! How long were you in Japan? and where?

And oh gods, i wish i had buckets of money and unlimited suitcase space because they are just so good at being bad!!
your royal pie-ness: buffyverse: Xander green Entreentrenous88 on August 15th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
And then we could go get coffee at Doutor!

Just four days in Tokyo -- it was the last leg of a long-ish trip to Asia, and one of the more expensive countries which we visited, so it had to be a bit short. It was fantastic! I would love to take Mr. Nous there sometime!
berahtberaht on August 5th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
I really want to make it to Japan one of these days.
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on August 15th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
seriously, i think you'd like it a whole bunch (and not just for the sushi - I can see you really liking the people and stuff too). i wish the dollar was stronger because it'd be easier (cheaper).
yessire: Blue Skiesyessire on August 5th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
these pictures are so great! enjoy every second.
my monkied brainkatekat1010 on August 15th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
thanks so much! I'm trying to squeeze every last ounce of fun :)
Emma Chissettnalesse on August 6th, 2008 10:45 am (UTC)
Hey! Glad you're enjoying Japan :)

I meant to get back to you sooner, but I've been soooo busy with training and work.

We need to have coffee/purikura session sometime!

Email my cell some time so we can make some plans :D

it's anna...japanna

at softbank.ne.jp

No ...'s :)

my monkied brainkatekat1010 on August 15th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
oh jesus sweetie i'm so sorry, i just now realized that you sent this message and i never responded (i suck). and now i'm stuck studying for finals and i'm leaving on sunday :( gonna have to catch you next time i'm in japan!