Monday, September 28, 2009

Matsuri, Tokyo, and Buddhism

Hello, everyone!

First off, I would like to let all of you know that I can't feel my face. A few weeks ago, I looked at a tooth that I had gotten filled before, and it looked dark! I went to the dentist that had the sign that said "Way of Tooth, Foreigners Welcome!" and had it looked at. First they did a 360 head x-ray, and told me the dark tooth was fine, it was because of the old filling and teeth being transparent and I probably just hadn't noticed it before, but that the bottom tooth which I had also had filled before was a problem. So I went back today, and what a procedure! First they gave me bubblegum flavored local anesthetic, then a shot, then they took a mold of my top teeth, then they drilled, then they took a mold of top and bottom teeth clenched, then they put stuff in the hole, then they took it out, then they drilled a little bit more, then they put stuff in, then they took a mold of my bottom teeth, then they painted it. The whole thing took about an hour, and I had to close my eyes so flying pieces of tooth didn't hit me. But I really like my dentist. He got his masters at NYU, and for some reason he thinks I'm really funny. I was really nervous sitting in the chair, and he was sitting at his computer laughing at me and I didn't know why.

But I still might have to get a root canal. I looked at the tooth after he drilled, and the hole went almost all the way to the bottom, and he said there might still be cavity there. Boo.

Look, more pretty pictures.

Elizabeth wanted to know what the buses looked like. Here you are, sister.

And a festival! Here's a sign for yakitori.

And here's the lady cooking my yakitori. She seemed to be in a bad mood. Although one thing to remember, and this is something a Japanese friend told me, is that the festivals are still greatly controlled by the yakuza. When I was on SICE participating in the festival I remember being surprised at the large number of men with full body tattoos walking around with very little clothing in our group, handing us beer, and inviting us out that night. I guess you could compare it to illegal horse gambling at the state fair??? Anyways, here's a really short article on tekiya, as they're called.

Here was a bunch of young-uns looking at trading cards or something, I dunno.

And a float.

The back. This float was very noisy, as it was being pulled by people, and the wheels were big and wooden, and made horrible creaking noises as they were slowly turned.

This one was much better.

Last week, I went to Tokyo because I had a few days of vacation. Tokyo was the same as it always was. Crowded, dirty, awesome, and over stimulating. Now that I've been there a few times I don't get so excited about going to see Tokyo, but more about getting to see friends. Actually, some of the things I used to find so exciting about it are now just annoying. The crowds, for instance.

This is.....Shinjuku, I think.

Outside Shinjuku Station. Shinjuku Station is big. It took me about twenty minutes to get to the other side to meet a friend, because instead of going through the ticket gates I had to go up stairs, down stairs, through stores, and I didn't know where I was going. But it's not as big as Tokyo Station. That place just makes my head hurt, so I don't explore it. But I think it's design is simpler. Anyways.

And this is Harajuku. I think you may all know it from Gwen Stefani's songs.

Also, go here, here, and here to look at pictures of the famous Shibuya crossing. Also, just perusing the internet right now, I found that Tokyo is the most populated metropolitan area in the world, with 35 million people. This covers a huge area though, since Tokyo is just one big sprawling mess with no space for nature. Because it covers such a huge area it's not even close to being on the top for population density, even though the center of it, Tokyo proper, is incredibly crowded in my mind.

There was a parade going on that day for the Olympics bid. This flag was so big, when they guy turned it he had to practically sit on the ground.

And the inside of a train. I really think little tidbits of peoples' daily lives like this are just as interesting as the special trips and events and everything, because this is what it is usually like, and everything else is just the exception.

Also, know what this is? They're gates that only open when the train doors do, to prevent people from jumping into an oncoming train to kill themselves. So sad.

The other night was a double birthday party for Dan and Yuka. One of the games was a kind of telephone, with drawing instead of words. This is how we went from rhino to bunny with the first three people. The final result was cat. Way off!

And the day before yesterday, there was a Japanese culture class with the Morioka International Association. We did Buddhist meditation and jodo, or Japanese stick fighting.

This is a tiny cute statue at the temple.

This is at the entrance. It was the first time I'd ever been in one (and probably the only time). You put a pinch of incense in the burning pot, and clap, to show your appreciation for being allowed in the building.

I thought the monk had awesome clothes.

So...we did zazen. It was very nice. They taught us how to sit on the pillows, how to hold our hands where to cast our eyes, and then they clapped two wooden blocks together really really loudly and a chime went off, and we meditated in 5, 10, and 15 minute increments. At first I was really distracted, but then the 15 minute session went by really quickly.

One of the methods they use to snap you out of your busy thoughts is hitting you with a stick. They emphasized that this was not a punishment, but just a method to remind you what you're supposed to be doing. They did everyone. It hurt a little bit, but it actually felt really good afterward. (That's Chinese being spoken, by the way. We had lots of nationalities there.)

Then we had a vegan lunch. The stuff in the top right corner is sweet sesame...stuff, as a substitute for sashimi.

I loved this lady. She was so adorable. She was tiny, and had awesome hair and a big wrinkly face, and I wouldn't have expected her to even be able to walk considering how old she looked.

Because my contract is already halfway over, I'm getting really nervous about what to do when it ends. I still don't know if I want to stay in Japan or go back home. I have no idea. I'm afraid that if I go back home I'll forget all my Japanese and whatever chance I'll have to make a real life here will be gone, and all my efforts will go to waste. But I also really miss America sometimes, as crazy as that sounds.

Things here can also be very dramatic, as I think I've said before, because our community is so small. I've been expanding it slowly lately, which is really refreshing, and I'm hanging out with a lot of Japanese people, and a lot of people that make me feel good about myself. I had to make a really hard decision recently about one of my relationships recently, and although the storyline or whatever isn't over, I know that I made the right decision. Ok, maybe the decision wasn't that hard, but implementing it really was. I'm not sure if or how much I hurt the other person by doing it, but I do know that that person hurt me (and themselves, if I may take the liberty to say) much more than the steps I have done to protect myself. And just since this happened, I already feel much better about myself, and more confident in the other relationships that are being maintained. This is very vague, but it's also the internet. My family knows what I'm talking about. Hopefully, now that this issue is closer to ending, I can concentrate more on what I want from myself in the future. Kirby wants me to move to Tokyo. I dunno. Scary life decisions! :)

P.S. Mooommmyyy, come visit meeeeeee! It's about to get cooooooold!


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the bus pics sissy!! I like to see the ordinary everyday stuff, because it's always a little bit different! Like those subway doors, for instance, that is pretty different!

Vanessa Rogers said...

Kimberly, you are so funny. I love the tid bits, all though for some reason the videos wouldn't work on my computer today. Maybe another day, it will like them better.

Anonymous said...

the videos worked for me... This is all very interesting and funny and a bit scary. My little girl is so FAR away in a really strange land :).