June 16-18

June 16

There was a poster session during the afternoon and that evening I was picked up by my home-stay parents. The Ukita’s lived about 30 minutes away in Zoshi City. This town is one of many seaside “prefectures” leading north to Tokyo. Within this town, they lived in a nice house in a hilltop neighborhood overlooking the fishing section of town. That night, we went out to dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant. I had my first taste of grilled Anago (a burrowing eel . . . I think), and it was ok, but I probably won’t order it again.

Pictures of Zushi City

 

June 17

The next morning Kikue made me waffles and because it was listed on my homestay information sheet that I did not like eggs, she made them eggless (what a pain I am). After breakfast, the oldest son (Ryoun) and I went walking around the neighborhood. He was a bit shy that morning, so the “walk” was more of a “he runs away and I catch up pace”. I think he may have either been a little embarrassed showing me around or he just didn’t like me. Not sure.

Later in the morning we went to the town of Kamakura, where there are some Buddhist temples and a huge Buddha statue. On the way, the family let me stop at a fish market to take some pictures. Because of its spiritual and historical importance in the Japanese culture, Kamakura gets a bit touristy. Kikue (the house mom) said that it is an especially popular place for old people to visit. Many of you would have thought that I fit right in . . . however, because it is the start of the tourist season, the town was packed. (It was also around this time that the family finally mentioned it was Kikue’s birthday, so I felt pretty bad about her having to show and explain everything to me as we walked around town fighting crowds and humid weather.) Getting back to the story, the house dad (Jinro) shared my distaste for loud, noisy crowds, so the trip to the temple and its associated pools was about all we could handle. After the temple, we stopped to eat lunch at a Korean restaurant where I tried Bibim (sp?). This is a type of noodle dish that can be served either hot or cold. In each case the same ingredients produce a different taste. I liked the hot dish the best.

After lunch we strolled around town, went to a Sutâbuccu (Starbuck’s) for coffee, and then dropped Ryoun off at his swimming lesson. The family split at that point: Kikue and Shoun went back to the house and Jinro and I walked down to the beach. The scene at the ocean was a bit chaotic, as there were swimmers, para-sailers, and fishing boats all moving within the same areas. Jinro said it can be a bit dangerous, but that there aren’t as many accidents as one would expect. As we walked north along the coastline, the views became very nice; however, due to the overcast weather, my pictures did not turn out very well. About mid-afternoon we took the train back into Kamakura (Jinro and I had walked north along the coast to the next prefecture).<<As a side, the train system seems to be relatively easy to use, but I am sure that some problems will arise later in the trip.>> Once back in Kamakura we picked up Ryoun from the pool and then took the bus back to their house in Zushi City.

That night we had a birthday dinner for Kikue consisting of gyoza (dumplings), rice, pork steak, and a cake. Kikue made the gyoza filling from scratch and asked for my help inserting the filling into the shell and folding it into form. Ryoun was very critical of my work, but I feel as though I did a pretty good job. They tasted great in any case. With the main course finished, the video camera made its first appearance, and the Ukita’s now have a very embarrassing video of me trying to sing happy birthday. I hope that it doesn’t get posted somewhere on the Internet. It would be like that embarrassing video of the star wars fight scene kid. I can just see that video being sold on the street corner now. . .

Pictures from Kamakura

 

June 18

Before everyone went to bed on Saturday night, Jinro set his DVD recorder (yes, I know, he is awesome) to record all of the World Cup games that take place overnight. This included the US-Italy game. I almost set an alarm to watch the game by myself (at 4am), but I decided to wait and watch it with Jinro the next morning. The US played pretty well actually, but it seemed like they missed out on some opportunities initially and then barely held on for the tie. (Soccer analyst that I am of course. . .). We stopped the recording at half, to eat a traditional Japanese breakfast, which consisted of miso soup, rice that was rolled in nari (seaweed), pickeled vegetables, sausage, and some tiny little anchovies. It was all pretty good. I think I could have miso soup with every meal (and probably will).

It rained most of the day on Sunday, so we searched for something to do indoors. We finally settled on the Modern Art Museum in Hayama. Unfortunately, when we got to the building, there wasn’t much to see. We sauntered around the grounds (in the rain) for a little while, until they told me there was a museum devoted to the scientific works of the late emperor ?, who spent much time in the field of marine biology. I took many pictures (I think I may have embarrassed the Ukita’s actually), so this field trip is better described in pictorial form. My favorite was the picture of a picture of Mt. Fuji-san.

On the way back to Zushi City, we stopped at what looked to be a chain restaurant (sort of Denny’s/Elias Brothers-esque actually), and I had my first tempura of the trip. It was ok, but after much eating over the weekend, I was pretty full pretty fast. I will have to try tempura again when I am hungrier. After lunch we went to a couple of antique stores before heading back to Zushi City. Back again at the Ukita’s, I spent my last couple of hours watching Thomas the Tank Engine and Toy Story 2 with Ryoun and Shoun. I haven’t talked about Shoun too much yet, so I would like to mention him here. He is not very much like his brother, in that he is very rambunctious and loves to hear himself talk. He spent a lot of time playing with and saying names of Thomas the Train and friends. He also liked to hand a train to me (especially Diesel Tim), say its name, and then expect me to repeat. He is definitely a funny little character that has a permanent devilish grin on his face (check him out in the pictures). Also, I think he got a bit attached to me, as he would run full-steam into my leg, bounce off, hit the floor, laugh hysterically, and then do it all over again. His parents said that was a good sign that he liked me, so I ran with it. When it was time for me to go back to Shonan Village (the JSPS orientation site) Shoun was sound asleep, which made me a bit sad. But I guess it would have made a lot worse of a mental picture if he had been awake and unhappy.

Before I took off, the Ukita’s presented me with an extremely nice clay sake (Nihonshu) set made in Okinawa. It was very generous, and I am sure that it will get put to good use at Hokkaido U. As I was saying my good-byes, I left my baseball mitt with Ryoun, and told him to practice up for the next time I will see him. He said he will be a Detroit Tiger and it made me happy. Overall, staying with the Ukita’s was a great experience and I am envious of the JSPS’er that will be hosted by them next year. I hope to keep in touch with them, and I may stop in for a visit on my way back to Tokyo for the JSPS final meeting at the end of August.

Pictures from Hayama

 

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4 Responses to “June 16-18”

  1. Dix Says:

    Play some lineage in an internet cafe for me while you’re there

  2. erin Says:

    Bobby! I love this!!! And I love you! I am so excited that you are blogging and that I will be able to stalk you half way around the world! It is great knowing what you are up to and getting to see what you are seeing. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    But… there sure are a lot of pictures of fish and flowers! 😉 It kiind of reminds me of your honeymoon pics, but there are no ants!!!

    Anyways, it looks like you are doing great! Don’t worry, we are attempting to take care of Lynnie for you. You stay safe, have an awesome time,and keep blogging!!!

  3. Sally Says:

    Bobby, your blog is the first ever blog I’ve followed, and it’s sweet! Your host family sounds pretty awesome and I’m glad you’re having a great time. Lee and I missed you at the Superhero BBQ, but we’re glad you are doing well. Keep up the good stuff! All the fish pictures makes me crave sushi.

  4. erin Says:

    And I doubted you!?!?!? I apologize!!!

    http://www.hotlyrics.net/lyrics/T/The_Zambonis/Hockey_Monkey.html

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