Tsunashima and Shibuya
You can see pics of everyone in the great glasses (a present from Helen and me) on Dave's site, here.
We met James, from England, and Dave's real-life geisha friend. She had a scented fan and said I was pretty.
Helen drank tequila shots with Dave and could barely stay awake in the train home.
It was matsuri weekend in Tsunashima, and we spent last weekend pretty much all in Tsunashima, with Macky as our host. We did the festival thing, and hung out at his (parent's) house.
They totally let kids cheat at carnival games at these things.
If you didn't know, Macky's folks have an ice company. The kids enjoyed hanging out in the walk-in freezer. Me, I've seen too many movies with people getting locked in these things, so there was no way I was going in. I also had to resist the urge to shut them in. That's what you do to people when they walk into freezers.
This is a cool old photo of the ice company, which I am going to paint for the Makimoto family.
We also spent a good amount of time in a local kimono shop, and had shoes made (zori, geta, whatever they're called). You get to pick out the base and the thongy-things, and they brought us tea and iced pears while we waited for their assembly.
Jeff's shoes are way cool.
Mid-week, Jeff got invited out to a Honda racetrack/fun park place about 3 hours away. He took the kids, who apparently had a great time. They both got "licenses," D for cars, M for motorcycles, built a go-cart and rode it, and M got all dressed up in a fire-safe suit and went racing. I can't find all the pics for this, but I know there's a great one of M in his car that I'll post when I find it. There was also a museum, a lab, and a robot!
While they were off being boys, I went to Shibuya for the day because, well, because I could. I had lunch with Helen at a french crepe place, and shopped mostly. I spent two hours in Tower Records at the listening stations, trying desperately to find some new music to buy. I couldn't find anything I was willing to spend 2500 yen on. Mostly it was crap, which was depressing, but not all that surprising. Got nearly poisoned by a Starbucks iced coffee, which hardened my resolve not to patronize Starbucks.
Punk is dead. I blame Hot Topic for starting it, but the pink Anarchy shoes with the teddy bears have put the nail in the coffin.
I was on my way to Shinjuku to have a few drinks with Dave when the skies opened up and dumped rain and gave us a good light show. Neither of us were prepared and had to buy umbrellas. Luckily, these are readily available and cheap in any number of nearby shops (yesterday, to my joy and relief, I found practically disposable umbrellas for 100 yen in a drugstore! Saved my ass again, because I was unprepared). Anyway, he took me down an alley to a cute little 8-seater bar called The Albatross. Sadly, Dave is leaving soon, going back to Paris. This is my first taste of what it's like to live in a foreign country full of transient ex-pats. You make friends, and then they leave. Well, I'm going to do it, too, so...
Yesterday was the orientation at the kids' school, where I met the new crop of teachers. D's teacher, also the music teacher, is a very enthusiastic guy from NZ. He's going to teach everyone guitar and form sports teams, so he looks like a winner. M's teacher, in his now-combined 5-6-7-8 class, is also the new head teacher. She's a Brit, and seems pretty on top of things. The whole school seems a lot better organized, suddenly, which is a relief. I was having my doubts about the place, honestly, but now I am excited for them. Our buddy Hakan is now in charge of the library, and he still wants my help with the cataloging and whatnot, so I'll stay involved.
TODAY is M's birthday. 10 years old, can you believe it? I can't. We have, spur-of-yesterday's school event, organized a small bowling party on the base this evening. I have to take 5 kids to Yokosuka on the train and get three of them base passes. That'll be fun. M is so excited.
The kids are going to be really excited after we get them in the car this weekend and tell them where we are going: it's a surprise, to commemorate M's birthday, our one-year-in-Japan anniversary, and the end of summer. School starts on Monday. Yes.