Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Different Here

We've been in the house two weeks and it's almost perfect. We still miss Joey and Sammy. I skype Joey once in a while. But Sammy's doesn't want to talk to me. I hope he'll come around.
On Sunday, we went to Nikko with Jorey. Nikko is a religious center 125 km NW of Tokyo. That being the case, it is full of Temples and Shrines.
After lunch and a walk through town, we passed this 400 year old wooden, red lacquered bridge & arrived at the entrance to the Temple/Shrine area.


I took photos of the pagoda and shrines, but you've seen plenty of those.

This handsome guy is at the entrance. He looks like he could be a guard, but since he's a fountain, I'm guessing he's here to greet tired travelers making the pilgrimage to Nikko. This is purely conjecture on my part. What do you think?>


These are the wise monkeys who 'hear no evil, speak no evil and see no evil'. Who knew the origin of these guys was Eastern religion? Not me.

As it got later, the temperature dropped. By the time we left the Shrines, even Jorey, who's from Boston, was shivering.

On our way back through town, we stopped in this shop where I watched the artist paint a dragon. He would put a message like 'Harmony in the Marriage' or 'Prosperity in Business' in Kanji characters. Jorey came away with 'Supreme Bliss'.>>

It was a long day - 7AM to 10PM. The day before, Allan had left at dawn to play golf. He got lost on his way back and got home after dark, so he had a really busy weekend.

He's been surfing, golfing, touring with Jorey, and this Saturday is paintball with Gene, his office mate and newest best friend. Gene has six boys, four teenagers. They should keep Allan entertained quite well.

It's different here and some things still seem a bit odd. We ride the train alot. There is no talking on cell phones, but texting is okay, so that's how teenagers spend their travel time. Napping, is almost encouraged. The hum of the train is like a lullabye and there is always someone nodding off.

It's rumored in the US that menopausal Asian women don't have hot flashes, because they eat so much soy. Possibly. But there seems to be alot of osteoporosis here, and that is certainly the lack of dairy in the diet.

These bikes are in a mall parking lot right on a major thoroughfare, and about 95% of them are not locked.

There's no plea bargaining here. Break the law - go to jail. People follow rules, they use their seatbelts, stay within the speed limit, stop at crosswalks, and are courteous in traffic.

The Japanese seem to take more pride in their work. Employees at Dunkin' Donut or McDonald's wear clean uniforms. You'll don't see stains, wrinkles, or paper hats. They keep their workspace clean and are attentive to the customers. Wish you were here?

As for driving, you know the wheel is on the passenger side, and when you reach for the blinker, you’ll find the wiper control. I have the cleanest windshield on the base. The geography here is very hilly so driving through tunnels is normal. You should turn on your lights if there aren’t lights in the tunnel. If someone honks, they are letting you into traffic (not giving the aural finger). Flashing your lights or emergency flashers three times is saying ‘thanks’. And if you are stopped behind someone at night, or if people are crossing in front of you, turn off your lights so they don’t get a glare in their face. Lastly, back into parking spaces, because everything is reverse here.

In restaurants, you’ll get a hot towel when you sit, and chopsticks of course.

We turn on hot water in the morning to shower, then off 'til time to do dishes. It takes about 30 seconds for the water to heat. Laundry is strictly cold water. We turn on the faucet by pushing the lever down. Yours turns on when you lift up, go check, I’ll wait.

Then there’s Japlish. Asians love anything western and use English words in strange ways. Phrases like ‘hair make peace’ and 'stable slow you'. Don’t start feeling smug. Our friend Mark says most kanji tattoos found on Americans are equally ridiculous.

Here's the 'Big Buddha' (44' tall) who lives in Kamakura. He's pretty famous in these parts.

The base is US soil, but you can still get a 50 lb. bag of rice, as alot of the wives are not American by birth. Gas is 1/2 price on base, and the seven exchange shops carry almost anything you want, furniture, gardening supplies, Asian gifts and in the main exchange Coach & Dooney bags. My resistance is weakening. I’m a mad pocketbook buyer, just ask my niece Rachel, who’s gotten a pocketbook from me for every occasion since her Bat Mitzvah.

It's time for me to start hustling for some students. I plan to teach English at my home, and I know that there are plenty of kids in this neighborhood. They pass my house on the way to school in the morning. Once I get my first students, everyone assures me I'll have all I can handle. I'm waiting for that.

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