Sorry this is taking me so ridiculously long. I've been surprisingly busy. Tuesday I went to lunch with Watt-sensei (our resident director) then went shopping with friends. Yesterday I was again hanging with friends (a shabushabu tabehoudai and karaoke in Shinjuku). Today I had to go to Shinagawa with Rachel so we could get our reentry permits for Korea. Because it would suck if we couldn't get back to Japan. After that we decided to wander around Shibuya, but apparently for us all roads lead to Harajuku so that's where we ended up (so of course we ate crepes). Anyway, I am now back at home having eaten a giant meal of Indian curry from the delicious restaurant from accross the street. And I've decided to sit down and blog.
The first evening I just unpacked and relaxed. The next day though I started to work. Now when I was working my schedule was something like this: wake up, work, eat, work, sleep, eat, sleep, work, eat, work, sleep (this time for the night). Seriously, I did a LOT of napping. However, sometimes instead of sleeping after lunch I would go for a walk. That first day, Ayami-chan and Takkun took me to see the lake right by the house and Ayami-chan and I bonded over her cat (the actual cat is very shy but Ayami-chan has a digital camera full of adorable pictures of her). I was also shown around the ryokan and introduced to everybody (though remembering names was super hard...) Since I first arrived on the weekend, my working schedule continued for a few days.
Hideko-san's husband (my host dad) returned from his business trip after a few days. They both love movies so the first day back, we all watched Hancock (mmmm....Will Smith). After that I would probably watch a movie every few days at night with Hideko-san and sometimes her husband (if he was around).
Another activity I got to enjoy on one of my free days was horseback riding. Once a week, Hideko-san gets a horse riding lesson and she took me with my first week there. It was lots of fun but also really cold. I thought my fingers would never be warm again. There also two very large, very lovable dogs there that I had lots of fun playing with and loving. I would also go shopping with Hideko-san, Ayami-chan, and Kyoko-san (Hideko-san's daughter-in-law/Takkun's older sister) when they went to get a change of scenery. Minakami has several similarities to Los Alamos including mountains, pine trees, and a lack of public transportation. Tokyo has completely spoiled me so not being able to go where I wanted whenever I wanted was hard.
Other things I did with my host family and coworkers included making Valentine's Day chocolate (which I then gave to my host parents since I had no boy to admire in Minakami), going strawberry picking (the strawberries were GIGANTIC and so sweet you'd think they were dipped in sugar except you know you just picked it off the plant), and I taught them to make guacamole. The guac was for a welcome party held for me and Kaori-chan and Kine-chan (two new members of ryokan staff). We all had to introduce ourselves (in Japanese...even me) which ended up being kind of funny because Kine-chan was way more nervous than me even though Japanese is his native language.
I did lots of other activities that were organized by Kobayashi-san (one of the city office members that helped get us Japan Study people to Minakami), but I think I'll save those for another post. As well as pictures. Sorry, but I ate so much today that I'm kind of sleepy and lazy.
Also, does anyone know if there's an actual word in English specifically for "gunk in your eye"? Mami and I were talking about it and she gave me the Japanese word (mekani?) and asked what it was in English. All I could come up with was "gunk in your eye". Mami really enjoyed the word "gunk" though.