Monday, January 09, 2006

Where did it go?

Last thing I remember, I was leaving work and and hopping into a waiting vehicle in front of the building on Saturday night... now it's Monday and I'm facing the prospect of starting up classes again tomorrow, where did the weekend go? Looking back on it, I guess it was rather eventful, which is why it went by so quickly...

For dinner Saturday night we went to a lovely restaurant nearby called Vanilla Dive which serves up a nice Asian selection. The atmosphere was quite lovely, and we even got to join in on a birthday celebration or 3 before heading home.

Sunday was the big day, the whole "meeting the parents" thing. Meetings one's girfriend's parents back home is important enough but out here in the Japanese countryside with a traditional\conservative family, it changed into something altogether different. In all honesty, I was not nervous, knowing that previous "in-laws" have fallen right in love with me... but I was somewhat aprehensive at how long we would be able to keep a conversation going with me knowing just about zero "conversational" Japanese. I can order fine in restaurants, ask for directions and information about trains... but I can't even discuss the weather with someone, lol. In the end, it all went over quite well. Having visited Canada (Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City) and China before, it was relatively easy to find discussion topics with what turned out to be a cute Japanese couple quite excited at having a foreigner in their home for the first time. Her father even searched the kitchen looking for the pictures of their trips and I showed them a selection of my pictures from China and Japan as well. We had a lovely 3 hour lunch of salad, sushi and sweets and when the conversation started to dwindle after coffee, gracefully made our exit. I must say I was impressed with my translator for the session, and I suggested she look into turning this skill into a career!

Following lunch we headed up to Nikko, since we were closeby, to make the first visit to a Temple and Shrine of the New Year. First stop was Futara-san Shrine (same name as the one here in Utsunomiya, but this one's in Nikko) where I paid my 300 Yen and went fishing for a fortune. With the elevation, everything was covered with a light dusting of snow.

Including the famed 5 storied Pagoda outside the Toshogu Shrine.

After visiting Futara-san and saying a quick New Year's prayer, we headed over to Ino-ji, a buddhist Temple to check things out a bit. Due to the cold and the fact that everything was closed down we didn't stick around too long and headed back home quickly. Got an interesting shot of the moon though, I'd love to head up into these mountains on a clear night some time and get a good look at the stars from this elevation.

Once we got back home, we popped in Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino, of which I had only seen parts before. It was quite a good movie, I can see why he got the Best Actor Oscar for it.

This afternoon, we headed off to Movix Cinemas to check out Memoirs of a Geisha, or "Sayuri" as it's called in Japanese. It was good, though I found it glossed over major parts of Japan's sex trade and the whole issue of WWII. We then headed to the Utsunomiya Grand Hotel for dinner at their lovely Beijing-style Chinese restaurant which has a nice view of the South end of town.

And that's about that, back to my apartment a short while ago to organize things a bit and get ready for the return to work tomorrow. Ski trip shaping up for next weekend, not sure where exactly but it'll be nice to head back out on the slopes. Got an email from Caroline from our training group and she's been heading out to Nagano where they've received MASSIVE dumps of snow this year... I am so jealous!!! Will have to get out there some time, though it isn't easy because of the mountain range between Tochigi and Nagano... gotta do a detour through Saitama...

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Anonymous S'Mee said...

Hey Mophone!

'Bout time you quit traipsing aroung and got back to work. Good-on-ya for meeting the parents, and comming out (dare I say it) smelling like a flower....or is it still Flower Mountain?

6:48 PM  

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