It is finally that time. That horrible time when schools decide that they actually have to make sure we learned something. That's right: finals. It may be mid-July, but I'm in the midst of finals. Monday I had my final sociolinguistics paper due, today was my final group presentation in Japanese, tomorrow is my media studies exam, and Thursday is Ainu. Basically, yuck.
What does this mean for you? I'm blogging because I'm tired of looking at old powerpoints from the media studies lectures.
I will go back to Wednesday of last week. Despite a very bad morning, I decided to go to class and go through with plans I had previously made. It was a good means of distraction. Besides I didn't want to hurt the feelings of Mami's parents. They had reserved a really nice restaurant for dinner. This place had these little private parlors with a traditional set up (tatami, table with a pit under it so you sat at floor level) and a view of the garden. You can sort of see our view in the above picture. This dinner was meant as a farewell for myself and Jeremy (he leaves Japan at the end of the month).
The only way to get Su-chan to be quiet and to sit still at this fancy restaurant was to bring the PSP loaded with Anpanman episodes with us. Looks pretty cool in those headphones doesn't he?
Here is my main dish (there were several other courses, but this was the only one I remembered to get a picture of). This is the BEST STEAK I have EVER had. Seriously. Interestingly, they gave us forks and steak knives (even though the steak was already cut). I actually didn't notice until after I'd finished eating. I've gotten too used to eating everything with chopsticks I guess :P
Here is a picture of Jeremy and Mami's father (Jeremy is Mami's parents' host student if you don't remember). I was going to get a photo of the whole group, but my camera's batteries crapped out on me.
The best part of the evening came after dinner when the restaurant turned off all the lights so we could see the fireflies. It was so wonderful just to sit in the dark and watch them. Very peaceful. Except for the loud laughter of some rather inebriated men in a room nearby. Sadly, that was probably the last time I'll see Mami's parents before I leave. They are wonderful people.
So this picture gets lots of explanation. Last Saturday I went to Hakone, a place about an hour outside of Tokyo that is well known for it's onsen (hot springs). I went to what I like to call a hot spring amusement park with some friends (many of the same people that were are the Fourth of July beach party).
No pictures from inside as I didn't bring my camera and even if I had, would not have much to show for it since water + camera = dame desu (if you don't know what that means, I'm sure you can guess). There were a LOT of weird baths (chocolate, coffee, wine, sake, green tea, etc.). The weirdest of all was this bath with fish in it that would eat the dead skin off your feet. It tickled SO BAD! But it worked rather well. There were also water slides and some more normal baths.
Now the picture is of a plushie I bought of the place's mascot. It's called a spakoneko (spa kitten) and I thought it was adorable so I bought one for myself.
Other than that, life has been rather boring and more than a little stressful. I've started to feel that I have too much to do and too little time. Seriously. On top of finals, I have to cancel my health insurance, cancel my cell phone, close my bank account, pack, go to little farewell get togethers so I can say goodbye to friends and family (host family that is).
Just as a warning: this may or may not be my last blog post from Japan. I can't guarantee I'll have time in the next six days to update again. However, I will be doing at least one wrap up post when I get home so it's not like I'm just going to end it here. Thought I'd warn you though.