“baby, it’s cold outside”

11/24/11   –   21:14

Holy crap, I haven’t posted in like a week. ごめんな, I’ve been busy, but I’ve finished my friggin’ 3500 word paper and now I’m back in action! [Hopefully.]

And just so you know, as the posted song indicates, it is rather cold outside. It’s been getting down to about 8 degrees [40s, Fahrenheit] and has necessitated that I purchase warmer clothing. Augh, my delicate Floridian sensibilities. They are not used to such cold. x_x

Wednesday was a day off of school which obviously meant hanging out at Saori’s apartment with some playing cards and beverage of choice. Note: Due to importation and taxes, a baby 350ish mL bottle of malibu will run you around $14. And attempting to get Kahlua will be around $22 for the same. We settled on 梅酒, a popular japanese plum liqueur and some imported vodka. PS: Flavored vodkas are non-existent here. Just fyi.

Anyway, it was Mai, Saori, Julia, and myself and it was a great time as expected. Teaching Japanese people ring of fire in exchange for an explanation of Japanese drinking games is always a riot. Also, 梅酒 is the candy of Japanese 酒. It’s almost too sweet. Julia and I ended up sleeping over and I huddled under the mass of blankets/the kotatsu trying to keep warm. And then… I had the nicest morning I’ve had in a while. :D

I got to wake up naturally without an alarm, which for Julia and me was still around 7:30 because we’re used to waking up for school around then [-_-;;]. And then while Saori slept, we commandeered the kitchen and made breakfast for everyone. Aka toast and fried eggs. It was sort of like when little kids make breakfast for their moms on Mother’s Day or something. They want to do all this stuff but they don’t know where anything is so the mom has to come out anyway and help. [Sorry, Saori, that bottle of canola oil looked too much like a bottle of cleaning fluid…]. Julia made coffee and we had some of Mai’s chestnut bread [… yeah.] and Pocky.

Relaxed wake-up + full breakfast + chatting over coffee = exceedingly pleasant morning. And then I was off to meet up with Andrea to go shopping in Kyoto.

Andrea was Christmas shopping, but I was just looking for anything, basically. So…

– There was an awesome jacket… that I didn’t end up buying. I read the price and it said: 2800 yen, and with the 20% sale, it would have ended up being just under 30 dollars. So I was like “hell yeah” and brought it up to the register. At which point the guy scanned it and it was 12,800 yen. Derp. And I had to apologize and tell him I got the price wrong. Awkward. It was a damn good jacket too. T_T

– I got kicked out of the fancy-ass Lipton cafe in Teramachi. Andrea was hungry and Julia wanted a maccha parfait so we all went inside and were seated. I was super-poor at that point so I didn’t order anything. And then was asked to leave. Awkward. I went to Circle K instead and bought a yakitori skewer, which I proceeded to eat with two slices of bread that I brought from home… smack in the middle of the intersection of Sanjo and Kawaramachi. I must have looked like such a hobo, lawl.

– To spite fancy-ass Lipton cafe, I shopped for a bit at this really classy tea-shop. It wasn’t a traditional tea store, but it had all the traditional teas and a dazzling array of modern ones too. Everything was chic and all the employees spoke impeccable English. It was sort of awesome. They had stuff like cinnamon ほうじちゃ and yuzu greens and white chocolate cherry reds but I ended up buying a 手拭い towel with Japanese dog breeds printed on it and 50 grams of Aomori Tsugaru apple infused green tea.

I felt very high-class after being shunned by both the over-expensive clothing store and the Lipton Cafe…. So suck it. :D

– Instead of a bridge, you can follow stepping stones to cross the main river in Kyoto. Bad-ass.

~ ~

Oh, and yes, Happy Thanksgiv… ::cough:: Labor Thanksgiving day! The actual holiday is 勤労感謝の日 [kinrou kansha no hi] which literally translates as previously stated and was probably constructed by the government so that the month of November could have a holiday. However, this doesn’t stop the department stores from putting up their “happy x-mas” decorations and banners immediately after Halloween passes. And also, we can’t forget to mention the Starbucks baristas donning their new holiday shirts. They’re a festive red and on the back of the shirt is printed a holiday invitation: “Let’s Merry.” -_-;;

Host-mom came back from her 4 day trip to visit Naho in Tokyo and she brough a tin of chocolates from Disney Sea as お土産. Which reminded me… it really is getting closer to Christmas, isn’t it? Excited.

Oh but yeah, back to turkey day. I suppose the Japanese skip straight from Halloween to Christmas because they didn’t happen to appropriate their land from the native population so they have no reason to stick entire birds in ovens and watch marching bands in New York freeze to death on television while making music in between unnecessarily gigantic balloons. … Ah well, their loss. Lol.

The UF students had a Thanksgiving gathering at the seminar house and there was food and togetherness and all that. It was all in all a nice time and, although not entirely like a Thanksgiving at home [I WANT PUTO AND LUMPIA AND PANCIT AND EMPANADAS AND A HONEY BAKED HAM], we all reveled in the fact that at least we weren’t alone in missing out. Thanks, err’one for the camaraderie. :]

On our way to the Seminar House, though, there was a momentous occassion. Drumroll please…

MY FIRST GAIJIN SMASH. For those of you who are not aware of “gaijin smash,” it is when a foreigner in Japan gets away with something simply because they are foreign. When Julia, Andrea, and I got off the train at Hirakata, Julia and Andrea went through the turnstile and I was left behind, frantically searching for my ticket. It was not in any of my pockets and I was distressed because I didn’t want to pay another $4 for a new ticket. And then Julia said, “… hey wait. Just. Y’know. Gaijin smash.” And so I went to the turn-stile office looking very confused and told them really quickly in English that I had lost my ticket and I didn’t know what to do and that I’m sure I paid for it and that I don’t even remember where I got on the train or how much I paid and what should I do and… they just looked really confused and waved me through.

I can’t believe gaijin smash actually works. ._.

~ ~

On another unrelated note, I was reading the Chinese classic Journey to the West for Pilgrimage class and the translator literally translated all the names in the book. So you ended up with city names like Slow-Cart and Crow-Cock. I then noticed that if all the city names in Japan were literally translated, the result would be equally ridiculous. I mean, some of them make sense. Like Tokyo [Eastern Capital], and Aomori [Green Forest]. But in other cases… “Oh, I need to get on at Temple of Shining Goodness Station [光善寺駅] and follow it to the end of the line at Willows Upon Exiting the City [出町柳].” @_@

Also, the Japanese are very fond of the gesture shown in this poster. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was a little threatening, but it’s more like “Yes, we can do it!”

~ ~

And here we are. By the time I post this, it’ll be Thanksgiving Day back at home, and I hope you all stuff yourselves silly because I can’t. ::endless tears:: Anyway, in the spirit of the holiday, here’s a list of things I’m thankful for:

– The Otsujis, for being the chillest host family evar
– Western Toilets.
– ソース
– Book Off
– The 7-11 across from campus.
– Pandamen.
– The fact that my wisdom teeth stopped hurting
– Timely trains.
– Travel. Every few days, host-dad puts on this Route 66 documentary he Tivo’d [he’s actually watching it right now] and I can’t help but feel like he only watches it because he doesn’t have the free time to travel there. I’m glad I have the opportunity to travel and basically live my dream. It’s sort of awesome.
– Uniqlo Heat-Tech Underwear
– Skype
– John Krasinski
– 100 yen shops
– The Internet
– All the friends I’ve made since coming over here and those back across the pond.

– And finally, the readers. I keep saying this blog is generally for me and me only, but if that were really true, I wouldn’t be using the second person, ever. The fact that I do means that I 大切にする you guys a lot. Thanks for your support. Hurr hurr.

Time travels fast. I’ve got exactly one month left until my epic journey through the other Asian nations. As awesome as this semester has been, things are only going to get progressively more so. Look forward to it :]

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