Fixed it!
Miyahira House, Urasoe

Today I flew to Okinawa! Dunno the latitude, but I think this might be the furthest south I've been so far.

Before I left, I hid a bunch of plastic easter eggs all over the living room. I was gonna call the Amaya family on Sunday, but it appears they found a few already.

The flight was really nice, not crowded at all. The airport even had free internet, so arriving at the gate an hour before they opened it wasn't so bad either. The flight itself was about an hour and a half. The stewardesses were nice, they even had an English newspaper for me. I spent most of the flight reading up on stuff to do here.

It's all cloudy, even raining now. Not quite the blue skies I was envisioning, but hey rain is nice too.

Takara tutor picked me up at the airport and took me to my temporary host, Miyahira tutor, where I'm staying for two nights. On the way, she took me out to eat. Turns out she's a vegetarian as well.

I have a host brother, Eiji, a host sister, Hikari, and another host brother who I haven't met yet. They took me to a surprise visit to another party, though we just caught the tail end of it. There, one of the labo kids, Ako, had a sanshin and she played samishen takara. A fascinating instrument.

Miyahira House, Urasoe

This morning I rolled my foot on a crack in the pavement in front of the house. It's not broken or anything, but it hurts and it's swelled up and I'm limping rather heavily. This is annoying, as I intended to use that foot quite a lot this week.

We went to the beach, they had a hot springs with a free foot bath. It was partly cloudy, alternating between big raindrops and sweltering sun. There are a lot of americans here, but that's to be expected considering how many US military personnel are stationed here.

Went to Miyahira's labo party. Did some easter stuff, played with kids as much as I could given my ankle. Afterwards, three of Hikari's friends came over and we played games until ten. I am wiped.

Moriyama Apartment, Naha

Today there was a big labo event. I got up on stage and gave my speech again, even though there were only two delegates going overseas, and only one of them to the US.

Played tennis with Mr. and Ms. Moriyama. I've got the making-the-racket-hit-the-ball part down pretty well, still working on the keep-the-ball-inbounds bit.

Went for a walk, found a half dozen kitties hanging out together in a park.

Takarabe Apartment, Urasoe

Today I went hiking through Kokusai-dori and Heiwa-dori, Naha's main tourist shopping district. It's like most of the other cities' districts of this kind, in that when you've gone through one omiyage shop you've gone through them all, but I have to admit it's probably the largest I've been to yet. It took me three hours to cover what I did, and I spent most of that time walking as opposed to browsing.

I returned to the labo center where the tutors were having a meeting with Kada, and at about three, kids started showing up for Miyazato's party. That went on until seven thirty. Fun party, there was ping-pong.

Went out to dinner with the tutor and some labo kids. Now I'm staying at yet another labo kid's house. Got here late. Dad is a psychology professor at Ryukyu Daigaku.

Base Okinawa, Naha

Today I went to Shurijo, Okinawa's most famous attraction. Miyazato tutor went too.

After that we went to the royal mausoleum, then we went to the Shikinaen royal garden.

Hung out at the Labo center until evening, then got a ride with Kanako here to Base Okinawa.

I met some cool people in the common room, including a german dude named Antoine who is heading to Iriomote-jima to work at a youth hostel there. Also a coupla dudes touring Japan, training in karate.

A bit wiped.

Base Okinawa, Naha

Bill got a professorship at DePaul! W00t!

This morning the weather was absolutely brilliant, everything you'd expect of a tropical setting. I decided to go to Zamimi, but when I got to the ferry terminal, I found that there's no 10 o'clock ferry today. Oh well. Backup plan: Churaumi Aquarium!

It's several hours away by bus, but the ride was nice. I saw all sorts of wonderful and fascinating critters, including some whale sharks behind the world's biggest single pane of acrylic glass. Breathtaking. Walked through Ocean Expo Park, a very atmospheric place, visited the beach, saw manatees and turtles and old Okinawan huts. Locked up my sunscreen and ended up a bit red.

I met a very friendly Korean couple on the way back, Mr. Kim and his wife. He could speak English and his wife could speak Japanese, which made for an interesting little triangle where we could all talk to each other, but not in a language the third person knew.

Got back at around nine, really wiped. Only got four hours of sleep last night, between my roommate's grand entrance and finding out about Bill.

Fast Boat
Base Okinawa, Naha

I went to Zamami today.

Snorkeled, saw lots of beautiful and some poisonous fishes. Also saw a manta ray.

Met some other vacationers, Gale from New Jersey and her dad and his girlfriend, and some folks from North Carolina.

Man, my day was so much more than that, but I am exhausted.

Base Okinawa, Naha

Today I went with Miyahira tutor to go "somewhere nice." Turned out to be Okiguu, a shrine, along with four of her friends. Going through a place like that with five very religious old ladies was an educational experience. Before, I had only seen the "dude, respect the spirits of our ancestors, peace man" attitude of the younger generation. The old ladies were just short of speaking in tongues.

Afterwards she took me to Okinawa World, where I got to see the caves, traditional eisa dancing, and glass blowing.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I said bye to my friends at Base Okinawa, checked out a little matsuri going on nearby, visited Kokusai-dori for some last minute souvenirs and breakfast/lunch (indian, nom). Then I took the monorail to the airport and flew back here to Fukuoka.

Long day.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Went to a local community science center/planetarium today. They had a 45 minute show, the latter half of which was an anime dramatizing the potential effect of space junk.

Also visited my host mom's mom, she lives under a temple. She gave me a box of soccer figures, yay.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I went into the office. Very typical. Life is getting routine. Every time I look, I see dozens of things that I would have found cool and unusual a year ago that now I take for granted and hardly even notice. Not that it's not still interesting, but I'd like to be able to discover Japan for the first time again.

Not that I don't get that wish every day, what with all the traveling I do... I must just be tired.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today a "go sensei," an old dude that my host mom knows through her volunteer center, visited and we played a bunch of go. First a couple of 9x9 games, then a couple 19x19. I made some mistakes, but he liked my tesuji at least. He loaned me a big-ass legged goban and stones to study with.

Went shopping with my host mom, blustery day out.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

I was pretty out of it today. Bleah. Didn't really do much of anything special.

Heiwa 3-chome
Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I took the bus to Matsuda tutor's party. Great party etc. etc. Came back late, am tired.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Visited Nishijima Party. Hotel in Kumamoto.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Lotsa train riding. Went to Matsuzoe party.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Went to Kokura today. Visited a group meeting of older labo kids. Went exploring, found a festival/flea market thing.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Didn't do a whole lot today. Didn't burn okonomiyaki.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I went to Akama and went shopping. Got new shoes.

Made dinner, didn't screw it up too badly.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I went to a New Wave game with the whole family, and one of Naohiro's friends. Not only did we see the whole thing, we won, and I got to meet the New Wave gull mascot dude.

We went to my host mom's mom's house for dinner.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Played futsal. Did relatively well this time. Got back really late

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Woo I'm getting up really early tomorrow and going to Tokyo! Need sleep.

Olympic Memorial Youth Center, Tokyo

Today I got up at 5. My host mom and dad kindly took me to Kokura station, where I got on a shinkansen and arrived in Tokyo 5 hours later.

All day has been a blur of preparing workshops and working. We're on a Japanese style insanely overpacked schedule, so I am wiped. Having a lot of fun though. Reuniting with lots of old friends and making plenty new ones.

Olympic Memorial Youth Center, Tokyo

Workshops and dancing. Lots of workshops and dancing. Sleep.

Sakura Hotel, Ikebukuro

I'm gonna miss everyone...

Went out with interns and Lance. Happy Birthday Emma.

Ishida House, Matsudo

Today we went to Akihabara and Harajuku. Lotsa shopping and hanging out. Fun fun.

K's House Hostel, Asakusa

Today I hung out with the Ishida family. We were gonna go play baseball, but it was all rainy.

Getting from the Joban line to Kuramae is not intuitive.

Sakura Hotel, Ikebukuro

Today Janet and I explored Asakusa, took the boat down to Hamamatsucho, walked to Tokyo Tower, and hung out in Shinjuku with Coral and Katie. Now I'm staying in Ikebukuro again. For the past three hours I've been chatting with Hiroshi, a roommate. His younger brother is half of Unjash, a famous comedy duo.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Stopped in Akiba on the way to the airport. Slept on the plane, unusual for me. Something about the engine hum put me out like a light. Back in Kyushu now.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Bus was late, had to sprint for the train. Visited Yoshida party. Met shark kid. Apparently Nodame lives there in Okawa.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Went shopping with my host family today. Played badminton a little.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

I watched a TV program about San Francisco with my host mom. She liked the peace symbols everywhere.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I... uh... cleaned my room. Yay.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Went to the office today. Preparing for a trip to Miyazaki. Made friends with a group of boys in the train going the other way when stopped at a station for half a minute.

Amaya House, Kurosaki

Today I visited Kawahara party, Naohiro and Risako's party.

Toyama House, Miyakonojo

I'm in Miyazaki! After a bit of a scramble (Having to hoof it to the station with two bags so I could beat the bus and make the train, half hour walk), I stopped at the labo center to pick up my new T-shirts on the way. Need new earbuds, too.

After a three and a half hour bus ride, I arrived here and visited Ushiroda party. It was a bit of a test, there were a few unruly kids running around not wanting to participate in any games, being noisy and intrusive to those who did want to participate. On top of that, a bunch of old men had a meeting in the next room, separated only by a light curtain, and were smoking and drinking, evidently not noticing the 30 or so kindergarten and elementary kids right there. Jerks.

Despite all that, the party actually went fairly well. Yay.

I came to my host family for dinner, then a few middle school kids came over to hang out. After that (like, after ten by now), we went to a hot springs. I stepped in, tentatively because I was worried it might be a little hot. It wasn't that hot, but it was something else all right. I had jumped in, and my skin was crawling with a pulsing, inexplicable pain. I had got in the "electric therapy" zone, where they were pumping not water but volts. That was bizarre. They also had an opaque mineral pool with lots of bubbles, and a couple cold water pools with zen-style waterfalls you could stand under.