Remember, remember, the 6th of September… haha :]

6 September 2009
Phase 1: The Ground Attack
So let’s backtrack to the Kyoto Tour on September 4th. Firstly, the day started off normally, wake up, take a shower, say hey to the flat mates. While in the bathroom, another flat mate was there and asked me if I had any band-aids. I told her yes, so I headed back to my room to grab them. When I headed into the room, I scurried over to my backpack that resided on my chair across the room from me. When I got to the edge of the tatami mats to where our desks are located, something scurried across the floor and headed towards one of my roommate’s bed sheets there were crumpled on the floor. Much to my dismay, the scurrying little creature was a cockroach! It fled into the crevices of the sheet, and I freaked out a bit and took three giant leaps out of the room. After running into the bathroom to squeal like a little girl, I decided I should probably tell the roommates. So I went back in, and I can’t quite remember how I delivered it, but I just remember that I said there was a cockroach in Jenay’s sheets. After equipping ourselves with necessary weapons to kill the cockroach, i.e. slippers- “no not slippers, those are mine!”, so sneakers, we were at the ready to strike the cockroach after one of us lifted the sheet.
Phase 2: The Hunt
            After one of us tentatively lifted the sheet, the little beast came running out and retreated behind Jenay’s desk. We tried to look behind the desk and found that there were gaps between the drawers, so the cockroach, we decided, could be anywhere in there. We realized that no amount of tapping and searching the nooks and crannies of the desk that we could actually reach would coax the cockroach out, so we temporarily parted ways and reassured ourselves that “at least there was only one of them.”
            Phase 3: The Aerial Attack/ Battle of the Week
            I don’t remember how much time passed throughout this process, however the event did occur early morning around 7 a.m.. It’s a good thing we were still a bit jet lagged and woke up super early or else that cockroach could have crawled all over our sleeping faces. However, we were all wide-awake once the word “cockroach” was said.
            Katie and I were scanning the room when the cockroach scurried back behind my desk. Some amount of time must have gone by between this event and the battle of the week. During this time, we all rolled up our futons and blankets, put our clothes and suitcases in the closet, and hoped that the cockroach wouldn’t get into our things as we went our separate ways to get ready for the day.
            I reentered the room, as did Katie and then the magic happened. The cockroach was now calmly climbing the wall. After a bit of squealing from a communal “Ohhhhh mannnn”, and me Katie and I gathered our weapons and became battle ready. However, we didn’t have any plan of attack to get the beast off the wall and not in our faces. While keeping an eye on the beast, we shoved things away from the wall to clear the surrounding area. Then, it happened, the cockroach FLEW from one wall to the other!! SHOOOOOTTTT!! After a lot of “HOLY CRAP IT JUST FLEW! WHAT THE FRICK?!”, Katie and I focused on killing the thing.
Phase 4: A Proud Moment for 3313
At this point Jenay reentered the room, saw that it was on the wall, and found something to throw at it: Her Swine Flu masks. So I threw the box of masks at the cockroach. It then flew off the wall, flew back onto the wall and quickly scurried into the crack between Jenay’s closet door and the floor. After we made sure everyone had a sneaker and that our stuff was moved out of the way, I opened the closet door with my foot and the beast came running out. Katie was the first out of the gate to kill the beast. I, on the other hand, was yelling “I GOT YOUR BACK!” while shoving piles of things away from the cockroach’s path. As I shoved a suitcase over, I only heard screaming, a lot of sneaker-hitting-floor sounds, and then a final victory yell, signaling that we had killed the beast!
            Katie’s recollection of that part of the story was that she blacked out a bit when she actually landed my sneaker on the beast, killing it. Jenay was still screaming because she thought it was alive, and I screamed because I thought she was screaming that there was another one. However, the battle was over (assuming that there is only one of them).
            Quality bonding time at the start of an amazing day. I never want to do that AGAIN!
Gokiburi Day Part 2: Adventures in Kyoto

(Kana is missing from the picture… because she’s taking it…haha)
            So the day began with killing a cockroach and continued with other orientation meetings and eventually a trip to Kyoto. More than 100 international students signed up to go to Kyoto. 100 people would be too much to corral, so the Japanese Speaking Partners became leaders of each group and gave the gaijin (meaning “foreigner”) the tour of Kyoto.
            Off we went, walking to the train station in the heat and humidity. Our group of gaijin and Japanese was super fun and we had no problems striking up conversation. Some of us didn’t know very much Japanese, while the others knew a lot more. And on the other side, some of the Speaking Partners knew very little English, while others knew a lot. It was an interesting mix because the ones who couldn’t speak poorly in Japanese would have to pull over a friend to translate and the same happened with those who couldn’t speak English well. When we finally arrived at the station, the group managed to talk about different topics, from goals to famous foods from each State. Since I’m from Boston, I described lobster and clam chowder like they were foods for the gods (haha). Even though we brought up good conversation, the weather was so hot and oppressing that the thought of being in a stuffy train made me a little anxious. After buying a ticket and peering over the Japanese people to see what to do next, we moseyed our way to the train. To my surprise, they were above ground, much different from the trains in Spain (lie mainly in the plains? Haha) They were actually less ghetto than I thought they were AND had air conditioning to boot!
            After switching trains at a station I can’t remember and listening to the sound of fake birds go off at short, even intervals (we didn’t know why either), we arrived in Kyoto. I felt like a little child as I walked, followed, and looked around without watching where I was going. There was so much to see and I had no idea where we were or where we were going. When we finally arrived at the Kiyomizu temple (according to my friend Nori), the first thing to do was be a tourist and take pictures! I didn’t feel too bad because the girls in our group took lots of pictures too, making my dorky, American tourist look a little bit less out-of-place.
            We entered the shrine area and had to wash our hands and mouth in a certain way. First, grab the ladle with your right hand and wash the left, then switch and wash the right, then put the ladle back in your right hand, get water from the spout, put it in your hand, drink the water from your hand, swish it in your mouth, and spit it out into the drain area. Sorry spirits, I made a mistake (and hopefully won’t be smote for it), I actually pretended to put the water in my mouth for fear that I might die from drinking it. That’s right. I’m just that paranoid.  However, I did wash my hands and when I was finished, I passed the ladle to the next person using my right hand, which is what we’re supposed to do apparently. It was a little bit confusing, but I got it by the second try halfway up the mountain.
            I didn’t mention that this place was located on the base/ side of a mountain. It was very beautiful; home to greens, beautiful views, and small business around every corner. Shrines have become more like business these days, and though these businesses are connected to the spiritual factor of the shrines, i.e. fortunes and charms, the monetary aspect really didn’t sit well with me. I saw it as disrespectful, but then again, these businesses were probably blessed, while here I was about to be smote for not washing my mouth at the entrance!
            On the way up, we got free Japanese sweets, which were amazing and I regret not taking a picture of them! We also found lots of fun stores like a store completely dedicated to Hayao Miyazaki. It was filled with all things Totoro, Ponyo, Spirited Away, and much, much more! It was such a wonderful place that I wish I could just go back and stand in it! I also wish I had a lot of money because I would have definitely bought lots more things!! Anyways, we took lots of pictures outside of the store because there was a big wooden Totoro waiting for giddy tourists to come stand by it.
            We walked up and up and up, then eventually head down the mountain for some food, because at this point all we were saying was, “Tsukareta” (Tired), “Atsui” (Hot), and “Onaka ga suita!” (I’m hungry!).  In response to our grumbling stomachs and constant whining, the group headed into what I believe was the center of Kyoto. The gaijin (foreigners) followed the Japanese speaking partners blindly as we made our way across big intersections and crowded sidewalks. Finally, we seemed to be at the place the SPs (speaking partners) wanted to be, and we stood outside in a Japanglish nodding in some sort of agreement fest, then headed down narrows stairs into a small, basement-like restaurant. However, the smallness and dimness only added to the comfortable, laidback atmosphere, and jazz music accompanied the sound of we gaijin-folk going “Ohh, ahh” at a neat bead waterfall structure.
            After spending a good amount of time asking “What is this? Ohhh What is this??” to the speaking partners and eventually choosing something to order, the group waited anxiously for our okonomiyaki. When the food finally arrived, we gaijin watched curiously as the Japanese girls prepared their okonomiyaki. First, they put some sort of sauce on it. There was a spicy sauce and a mild sauce. I put both sauces on half-and-half, then proceeded to watch the process. Second, the girls decorated their okonomiyaki with some kind of mayonnaise. It’s actually a very artistic process and the end result was very pretty
Lastly, it was time to EAT! Oh man, I had never tried okonomiyaki before, and I’m not sure if it was because I was hungry or because the dish was actually good, but this okonomiyaki was FANTASTIC!!
            When we were finished eating, the group headed out into the busy streets of (what I think was) Kyoto center. Guided by our new Japanese friends, we moseyed along the sidewalks, searching for the train station. After successfully finding the station, buying a ticket, and eventually realizing their were seats in the isle next to the train doors, we sat and enjoyed our ride to what we thought was home.
            The group spent the ride home in two groups of four; our Japanese friends on one side, and we gaijin on the other.  Of course, we gaijin were completely confused because it seemed like we were not taking the same route back as we did to get to Kyoto. I’m not sure whether or not we asked the girls  where we were going, but I know that even if we had, the question was not answered because when we exited the train, we gaijin were still confused as to where we were located.
            Just like the rest of the day, the gaijin followed the SPs all the way to an arcade. 
Why an arcade? Because in this arcade, there was PURIKURA. Ohhhh, purikura. What a guilty pleasure. Nothing is better than multiple peace sign pictures in a photo booth with beauty lights. We were all looking pretty apprehensive as we stood outside the purikura booth, waiting for a group of giggling schoolgirls to come out, ready to add cute katakana, stars, and hearts to their photos. It was our turn next and all eight of us piled into the photo booth. After a little bit of confusion, we made silly poses and what not, exited the booth, and waited as the purikura pros dressed up our pictures with our names in katakana.
YATTA! The end products:
(My eyes look super anime. Just throwing that out there.)
The day was pretty much at its end, as Kaitlin and I found out by sneaking a peak at a yellow sheet that laid out the plan for the day. Too bad it was all in Japanese characters. Even so, we knew that it was time to go home. After an awkward goodbye to the SPs, the gaijin hopped on the bus that took a direct route to KG. Once at the KG stop, all the gaijin hopped off. Some of the group was smart enough to go through the school; however, Kaitlin, Noah, and I didn’t even think to check the front gate, so we walked the long route home only to eventually meet up with those who went through the KG campus.
            Our original group of four gaijin parted ways to our Seminar Houses. And with that, our day was done.
Sorry for the incredibly long, delayed post! Mata ne!

September 13, 2009. Uncategorized.

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