|Photos catch-up, and some volleyball shenanigans.
||[Jul. 1st, 2009|04:41 pm]
Right, so. Since Julia is coming to visit me in two days, and since we are now officially T-minus four days and counting for Mt. Fuji, I figured that it's about time that I finished uploading the photos from my previous big vacation, waaaaay back six months ago. Here we go. New sets in the Flickr pool:
Kyoto New Year 2009
Fushimi Inari New Year 2009
Okinawa: Naminoue New Year 2009
Okinawa: Shuri Castle and Coming-of-Age Day 2009
Okinawa: Ocean Expo Park
lol sweet sweet manatee lovin'
Oh, Okinawa. So many fond memories... and so many not-so-fond memories. My not-so-fond memories are mostly related to issues of the weather (bitterly cold in January, of course), the stupidity of the Okinawanites about the weather (LOL LET'S KEEP OUR AIR CONDITIONING ON EVEN THOUGH IT'S FIVE FUCKING DEGREES OUTSIDE BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A TROPICAL PARADISE YOU GUYZ!!!!)*, and of course, that time that Meredith and I discovered that Naminoue is actually the world's ugliest beach. I am so not kidding about that. It's in the photos, you guys. Just look.
I still regret that I was never able to snap a decent picture of the fabulous host club hotties (with their fabulous hairstyles) who hung out in the 7-11 across the street from our hotel every morning. Because, yes. I totally booked us a hotel room right in the middle of Naha's night club district. Go me.
* I still find it amusing that Okinawa has this weird fetish about hibiscus flowers. Or at least, their tourism department has this weird fetish for hibiscus flowers, as pictures of the darn things are everywhere. Maybe being constantly bombarded with the image of the hibiscus flower is partially responsible for brainwashing all of the citizens of Okinawa into believing that they live in a warm-all-year-round tropical paradise, even when they totally don't?
Well, guess what.
We have hibiscus flowers in Nagano, too. Lots of them.
That's right. In Nagano. You know, where they held the Winter Olympics that one time?!
Yeah. There really isn't anything particularly special or "tropical" about hibiscus flowers. There really isn't.
(Why, no. That rant wasn't percolating for six months or anything...)
Also, the complete saturation of American culture on the island was inescapable. In some ways, this was awesome, because we got to watch American television (broadcast on the military base channels, no less!), eat spam and real Kentucky Fried Chicken (not the Japanified version), aaaand eat curly fries and drink root beer at A&W restaurants. Okay, so maybe none of that was so great for Meredith, but for me it was seriously awesome. On the other hand, however, many of the worst aspects of American culture have been well and thoroughly integrated into the fabric of life in Naha, including trash on the streets, pushy cab drivers, and the world's most hideous architectural horrors. My God, Naha is an ugly city. I mean, it's just ugly. It was and still is the first genuinely ugly place I've ever visited in Japan. And yes, I realize that it's America's fault that Naha is such an eyesore. We're the ones who razed the original city during World War II, and we're the ones who "rebuilt" it using the finest techniques that 1970's-style concrete architecture had to offer. So yes, as an American, I am both repulsed by Naha's architectural travesties, and yet deeply ashamed to be a citizen of the country that's responsible for inflicting them upon Japan in the first place. Yeah, I know. It's... complicated.
Well, on to happier news. Today at Achi Middle we had our big annual volleyball tournament between the two third-year classes. Students from each class went head-to-head in teams of six, but since we only had one volleyball court to use, that meant that the students who weren't competing in any given match were supposed to cheer on their classmates from the sidelines. During the first game of the morning, six students from the 1-gumi class took to the court and then immediately engaged in a quick round of rock-paper-scissors, in order to determine their serving order. Watching from the sidelines, another of the 1-gumi students - we'll call him Tetsuya - suddenly began rallying the other boys into cheering on the rock-paper-scissors match. "WHOO YEAH NICE ROCK!" he started shouting, and then his friends immediately joined in:
"YEEEEEAAAAH GO PAPER YEAH!"
"NICE SCISSORS, NICE SCISSORS!"
"DON'T MIND ROCK, DON'T MIND."
Unfortunately, Tetsuya did not end up cheering nearly as loud or as enthusiastically during the actual volleyball game.
I do have to give the Achi Middle students credit, though. The volleyball matches were pretty intense, and definitely exciting to watch. We have more than a handful of talented volleyball players in both third-year classes this year. Honestly, I'm really impressed by the students' mad volleyball skillz. I remember back when I played on the Bettendorf Middle School volleyball team, during the strange, strange year that was seventh grade, when somehow I ended up playing on almost every extracirricular (or did we call it "intramural"?) sports team that BMS had to offer. (Seriously, how did that happen?! What was I thinking?!) But anyway, I remember that back during *my* middle school volleyball matches, we all sucked so much that whichever team served the ball almost always ended up winning the point, since nobody could actually return a decent serve. Yeah, we all sucked hardcore.
In other news: Shiso-flavored Pepsi. It is not very good.