Day 3 in Takamatsu, September 24
I woke up around 6:00 that morning to find the kitchen once again occupied by Chiaru-san, busy preparing breakfast for the family, who are all hurrying to ready themselves for the day ahead. Takao-san for his 8:00-8:00 workday, Ayano-san and Ryunosuke-kun for their school day. Everyone ate breakfast, Takao left around 7:00, Ayano and Ryunosuke left around 7:30, and as they leave they call out, “Itte kimasu,” and are answered by an “Itterashai.” Myself and Chiharu were left to enjoy our morning.
Without me even realizing it, the Oki family learned so much about my likes and dislikes, and remembered everything. After everyone left, Chiharu asked if I would like some coffee. She served it black, the way I had mentioned the previous day that I liked it. It was a very pleasant morning.
Soon, I embark on my first adventure on my own through Takamatsu, armed with a bike, a map, and my desire for adventure. (By the way, 5 minutes ago my time, I turned 22!)
My goals that day: Find campus, get internet, get bank account, meet Takao for lunch. I found the campus fairly easily after about a 25 min bike ride northwest from the circle in the center of the map to the northwestern square. When I get there, I don’t really have any idea as to what I should do, so I whip out my phone and start looking for wifi…. I found none. So I asked a student I saw walking by. We couldn’t communicate very well, but he understood my point. He lead me to a Professor or campus employee, who in turn, took me all the way to the international student office, personally. It was there that I would have accessed the internet, but I didn’t have a student ID (and still don’t yet), so they did some investigating. They asked me what my major was and a couple other questions. Soon, I was informed that I was not in the right place, and that I actually needed to be at the other square, the engineering campus, about 7 kilometers away. *sigh*
It was still early and was planning to meet with Takao around 11:30, so until then, I went to Hyakujyushi ginkou… 114 Bank… to try and open an account. After lots of back and forth with questions not quite understood and answers given that did not really answer anything they needed to know, and lots of dictionary use, they determine that I cannot open an account yet, because my residency card had not yet been updated yet with my local address. That has to be done at a government building. So I left the bank with my new information and went back to campus. I found the library and went in. After telling the librarian that I was going to be an international student, they set me up with a temporary allowance to use their computers. So I use the half-hour I have left before I meet with Takao to check e-mail and other such things.
At 11:30 I gave Takao a quick phone call and let him know that I was by the library. Within a few minutes I see him ride up on his bike. He works downtown somewhere close by to the University campus. He takes me to meet the dean of the business college and afterword, we head to the covered mall-street to eat some of Takamatsu’s famous udon noodles.
They are delicious and I have had them nearly every single day here in Japan. Udon is a very popular lunch item because it is cheap and delicious!
Afterword, we parted ways. He, back to work, and myself, off to the Kagawa University Engineering campus. It was a long ride, but finally I arrived, sweating heavily. It was then that I got a call from someone I had spoken with earlier when I was at the other campus. Apparently, I had taken longer than expected to arrive, and she was worried. But as it turns out, I was right outside her office when I answered the phone, and we met up. She asked me a few questions, and informed me that not only was Kii-sensei in his office today (my research professor), but also Doi-sensei (one of my class’s professors) and Sone-san (my student mentor, or senpai) as well! I spent the next couple hours at the engineering campus getting to know Sone-san and a couple other student researchers. They were all very excited to hear me attempt my Japanese.
I began yawning more than twice per minute, so I determined it was time to leave. Before I left, Sone-san invited me to meet with him and a friend of his on Wednesday at 1:00 for some coffee. I told him I’d be delighted.
And thus another day ended. It was a busy, but good day. My Japanese family was quite surprised at the distance I’d covered. A bath was quickly prepared and then dinner once Takao returned home. I slept well that night!
Day 4 in Takamatsu, September 25
Tuesday was yet another busy day! It began somewhat slowly though because I was fatigued from the day before. I slept past everyone’s departure, but only by a little. That morning me and Chiharu-san spent some time together chatting and whatnot. We each had coffee, and I offered some Godiva chocolate I had purchased at JFK in an attempt to use up the last of my American dollars… I still have $2.57… She was greatly appreciative. Godiva is famous over here. That day, Chiharu had a cooking class that she wanted to attend, and it happened to be right around the corner from a place that we believed had free wifi. So once we had finished her Japanese soap and putzed around a little bit more, we left on our bikes for downtown.
It was pleasant ride. We parted ways and had determined to meet again at the same place at 3:00. Apparently, that place did NOT have free wifi. But, they were able to point me in the right direction to a place that DID offer free computer usage. E-Topia, up north by the Seto Inland Sea ferry harbor, only a short bike ride away.
So after a quick bite to eat, I move on to find E-Topia. Turns out they had a large new iMac available for me to use 😀 I sat there and wrote a post and by that time, I had to move on to meet Chiharu.
Once we met, we went to City Hall so that I could update my address for my Residency Card so that I could open a bank account. In that, we were successful, but the banks had closed by the time we were finished, so we went to a meat shop to pick up food for dinner, and biked home. That night we had chicken fillets with a homemade tomato sauce!
Takao is an aficionado when it comes to many things. One of them is wine. He always loves matching wines to meals, and he’s good at it. Another thing is olive oil. Here in Takamatsu, they make their own olive oil, and apparently its pretty good. His collection spans from Spain, to Italy, to Greece, to local. It’s quite impressive! Another is classical music. One day when he came home, I had put on a Beethoven CD (one of many) and when he heard it, he commented offhandedly that this was such-and-such symphony conducted by blah blah blah… Either way, I was in awe. He continued by telling me which symphony was hit overall favorite, and who his first, second, and third favorite conductors who performed it were.
Day 5 in Takamatsu, September 26
Residency card updated – check! Now I can finally get a bank account. After spending my morning with Chiharu in what had become somewhat of a normal routine, I take off to downtown Takamatsu on my bike to meet with Takao at the bank so that he can help me.
Creating the account went very smoothly. I currently have 100 JPY in the bank. Here you can open an account with only a single yen! Can’t do that in America! Unfortunately however, they would not/could not accept my check from myself to myself. They are worried about money laundering since this will be a short term bank account. They would let me write the check to Takao and I could get the money that way, but it would have taken an entire MONTH to clear! No thanks… Back to the drawing board.
But, with that taken care of, we head over the the mall-street to get some, drumroll please?
Udon! You guessed it! It is still delicious!
After a quick lunch, we parted ways, Takao to work, and I to the bookstore for a brief time before my meeting with Shintaro Sone and his friend. The store had 5 floors with a huge variety of different types of books. Everything, except for a small corner up on the 5th floor, was in Japanese. So I guess I mostly looked at the pictures. Soon, it was time to go. I was to meet Shintaro at the Starbucks at Kawaramachi Station. Not too far off. It is circled in blue on the map above. I arrive on time and I see Shintaro and his friend already there waving at me. His friend greets me in very slow, deliberate English, so I do so in turn, then also in Japanese. His name is Yamada Tsunaki. He is very impressed that I can speak some Japanese. We go in to get drinks. Tsunaki-san and I get a small black ice coffee and Shintaro-san got an iced latte. Before I could do anything about it, Tsunaki-san had paid for me! This happens all too often. Even when I try to pay, it ends up getting split, or not even that. I guess I don’t know enough Japanese to insist the correct way?? *Sigh* Anyway, after that we walked around a little bit to find food since they were hungry. We sat down in a small shop that Tsunaki-san has a part-time job at. All-in-all, it was a great time. We will probably hang out again soon.
Afterwards, I went back to E-Topia to write a post, and left as it was getting dark, around 6:00. “Tadaimasu!”… …”Okairii!” I get home to find a bath waiting for me and when I get out, I also find out that Iwamoto-sensei had called and was planning on coming over to visit tonight! Iwamoto-sensei is the person who has put in all the groundwork for my internship and I had met him twice in Toledo. We all had fish and sake for dinner, then tequila and one of Takao’s homemade margaritas.
He was inspired by my explanation of how I make mine, so he went and made his. It was very good! But stronger than I make mine, if you can believe that (@Mom and Chris)!?
It was a very pleasant night! Like most evenings, it ends with the men left at the table talking and drinking. Usually it is just myself and Takao, but this night we had Iwamoto-sensei with us as well and it was nice to have someone that speaks thorough English around for a change.
Day 6 in Takamatsu, September 27
I slept in that day. The previous night had left me without much energy. Not just the previous night, but the whole week so far had been completely jam packed with things to do. So Thursday, I took it slowly, as they say in Japan, Yukkurishimasu. I spent my morning organizing my entire photo library, identifying the faces of all some odd 2,000 photos. Took a nap, and then left with Chiharu to go pick up her friend, Usui-san, who was coming to visit from her home prefecture. She arrived at the same bus stop that I had. We were all very hungry, so we went to get some lunch… Yea, we had udon. It was delicious! The people here really do love udon.
We went home and I rested for a bit more while Chiharu and Usui went to the nearby You’me Town mall to go shopping. Not soon after they left, Ayano came home from school. We chatted at the table for a bit, which was challenging, but enriching. We both benefitted from the other’s language. After a bit, she said that she needed to go to the bookstore to get something. I had mentioned earlier that I had wanted to go back to a bookstore, so I went with her. We biked to the You’me Town mall and met up with Chiharu and Usui. I didn’t buy any books, but in a severe desire for some fruit juice, I bought a 315 JPY glass of orange juice, which I finished in about 3 seconds. But it was worth it.
We went home, relaxed for a bit, took baths, played the guitar, etc etc, until it was time for dinner. This night, it was Chiharu’s homemade curry rice!
After dinner, we had an English lesson for Ayano and Ryunosuke (which serves as a little Japanese lesson for me as well). Afterward, I was encouraged to show them my turntable and DJ capabilities, which had come up during the dinner discussion as one of my hobbies. They were all thoroughly entertained by the scratching feature and the crossfader. I of course, was just happy to have an interested audience, since it had gotten old in my household over the summer.
Then it was bed time. We were going to have a long day the next day. They had told me what they wanted to do for my birthday, so I got some rest!