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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« Akihabara | Main | tokyo! (part one) »

tokyo! (part two)

(This is part two of a 2-part Blathering.)

Jeff and I had been warned about the heat (Alison's Jeff got sunstroke the first day here when he visited), but luckily things have cooled off somewhat. Perhaps because of the typhoon that went through part of Japan recently! Anyway, armed with a hat, sunscreen, and lots of Water Salad and other drinks from the public vending machines, we were fine.

Around 2 pm, we decided to head back to Alison's. We took the Tokyo subway, which is way more complicated than the one in Toronto. Alison was our guide; it will be interesting to see how Jeff and I cope when she's not with us. She gave us each cards with a small map of the area immediately around her apartment, with her apartment clearly least this way we'll be able to tell a taxi driver how to get us back to her place, if necessary. There seem very few street signs and no consistent building numbering system.

After snacking on yummy rice snacks (Jeff and I picked up a bunch of interesting-looking packaged rice balls which we chose by colour since we couldn't read the characters), I transferred my 148 photos (all taken since we arrived at Vancouver airport to fly here) to my laptop, deleted the rejects (leaving about 100), wrote these Blatherings. By the time I finished, Jeff and Alison were napping; I joined them. :-)

We woke after about 1.5 hours. Jeff was too groggy to go out for dinner, so I turned on the television to stir his tv-alert genes. And surprisesurprise, there was another food show on! This one seemed to be entirely about three men eating various cuts of beef. First the part of beef would be highlighted on a cartoon cow, who would smile and nod her head up and down. Then the men would cook pieces of the chosen beef on a grill, after which the camera would zoom in on each man dipping the meat in some kind of sauce then (and this was close-up, mind you) put the meat in his mouth. While still chewing, each man would grunt a delighted or outraged response.

Guest Blathering from Alison George:

My first guest blather. How exciting!

I am so happy to have Jeff and Debbie in Japan. It is wonderful to show people around and know I will have shared experiences with others. I've been here now for about two and a half months, and my only other visitor was my husband (JeffL, for anyone who read the Killarney trip report). I find it so nice to try to explain some of the culture, customs, etc. to visitors. I also very much enjoy seeing the reaction of people who are new to Japan to all the different things here. (Case in point....Debbie's reaction to "Water Salad")

Including this trip, I've lived in Japan for about two and a half years. The first year was way way back when I was 17. I was an exchange student sponsored by the Rotary Club, and I attended Japanese high school for a year in a town called Yatsushiro, on the southern island of Kyushu. I lived with host families, and was completely immersed in this culture, studying Koto (Japanese harp), Aikido (a martial art), flower arranging and of course, the language. I had no choice....foreigners in that town were scarce -- so scarce that people would stop and stare when I walked down the street. It was a challenging, unbelievable experience for me. I was shown so much, and learned so much and I was at an age when information just absorbed so easily (funny how that changes with time).

When I finished university, I decided it was a good idea to find out how much Japan was in my system, so I returned for another year. I was 23, and lived in Tokyo, teaching English and studying Japanese. Though again a remarkable year, I began to realize that I did not feel "centred" or at home in Tokyo. The city is enormous, busy and very different from Toronto. So I shifted gears somewhat, eased up on the Japanese classes and started to work at a radio station -- which was great fun. I have no regrets about spending a second year here. It helped with my language, taught me independence, all very important at that age.

This time round, I am here because of a short-term job transfer. My company was looking for someone to help out in our Tokyo regional office. Because of my experience here, and that I know some Japanese, they asked me if I would consider the opportunity. It was a scary prospect -- I would have to spend just over four months here, working on an intense project. Over that time, I would only be able to see my husband three times -- he is visiting me here twice, and I would be able to come home once (for the Killarney trip). I have the most incredibly supportive husband...we both recognized this is a once and a lifetime opportunity, and we felt we could handle the seperation. He was also intrigued with the chance to visit Japan -- his picture taking is rivalled only by Debbie. I told my boss I would go....and prepared to depart within three weeks. A week before I left, we found out I was pregnant.

Ah, the fickle finger of fate. The timing isn't so bad....I'll be just under six months when I return. The toughest part is being apart from Jeff...especially now when physical changes are well underway. I'm afraid he won't recognize me when he gets here in two weeks (we will have been apart for a month). Debbie said she'd take a "belly shot" to e-mail to Jeff. Hopefully, that will lessen the shock.

Okay, enough....I've written much more than I meant to. My next guest blathering will be about the life and times of Jeff and Debbie in Tokyo. They are doing very well, and a pleasure to have as visitors.

Today's Blatherpics

- Rice snacks we picked up on the way home.

- A number of young people are into this "Goth French Maid" style.

- Jeff and Alison, a few minutes after we arrived at her apartment.

- Flea market. Amazing selection of items for sale, with some excellent deals. I very nearly bought a gorgeous used kimono for $90, but realized I had nowhere to display it, nowhere to wear it, and it would somewhat of a pain to get back home on the plane.

- A street musician.

- Alison on Takeshite street.

- Subway car.

Today's Poll:

Have you ever watched an episode of The Iron Chef?

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