The Slightly Longer Way – Day 19

The Slightly Longer Way Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsRSJP
Day 0 – Friday, May 05 2023 to Sunday, May 07 2023Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo-
Day 1 – Monday, May 08 2023Train from Tokyo to Kyoto-
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 09 2023RSJP Orientation DayW1D1
Day 3 – Wednesday, May 10 2023Placement test, Kinkakuji/Golden PavilionW1D2
Day 4 – Thursday, May 11 2023Kyo-Yuzen Dyeing WorkshopW1D3
Day 5 – Friday, May 12 2023Mori Touki-ken Pottery WorkshopW1D4
Day 6 – Saturday, May 13 2023Ichihime Shrine, Nishiki Market-
Day 7 – Sunday, May 14 2023Nara, Todaiji Temple-
Day 8 – Monday, May 15 2023UrasenkeW2D1
Day 9 – Tuesday, May 16 2023Nijojo CastleW2D2
Day 10 – Wednesday, May 17 2023Tojiin TempleW2D3
Day 11 – Thursday, May 18 2023Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street, TsubomiW2D4
Day 12 – Friday, May 19 2023Kyoto StationW2D5
Day 13 – Saturday, May 20 2023Kamogawa River, Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai-
Day 14 – Sunday, May 21 2023Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai-
Day 15 – Monday, May 22 2023Kimono-ProW3D1
Day 16 – Tuesday, May 23 2023Ritsumeikan Library, Hama SushiW3D2
Day 17 – Wednesday, May 24 2023Domoto Insho House, Kamogawa, IchijojiW3D3
Day 18 – Thursday, May 25 2023Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Hama Sushi (with Kel)W3D4
Day 19 – Friday, May 26 2023Super KaraokeW3D5
Day 20 – Saturday, May 27 2023Nothing special-
Day 21 – Sunday, May 28 2023Demachi Masugata Shopping Street, a long walk home-
Day 22 – Monday, May 29 2023Nothing specialW4D1
Day 23 – Tuesday, May 30 2023Kyoto International Manga MuseumW4D2
Day 24 – Wednesday, May 31 2023Ritsumeikan LibraryW4D3
Day 25 – Thursday, Jun 01 2023Maiko/Geiko demonstrationW4D4
Day 26 – Friday, Jun 02 2023Final Presentation, Taiko LabW4D5
Day 27 – Saturday, Jun 03 2023Kusatsu-Juku Honjin, Lake Biwa Museum, Omi Hachiman (with Zian)-
Day 28 – Sunday, Jun 04 2023Omi Hachiman City Museum, Omi Jingu (with Zian)-
Day 29 – Monday, Jun 05 2023ArashiyamaW5D1
Day 30 – Tuesday, Jun 06 2023Nothing specialW5D2
Day 31 – Wednesday, Jun 07 2023Final exam, Osaka, Manga Cafe (with Zian)W5D3
Day 32 – Thursday, Jun 08 2023Osaka, Namba (with Zian)W5D4
Day 33 – Friday, Jun 09 2023RSJP Graduation DayW5D5
Day 34 – Saturday, Jun 10 2023Leaving Zian, Train from Kyoto to Tokyo, Ikebukuro-
Day 35 – Sunday, Jun 11 2023Shibuya, duo MUSIC EXCHANGE-
Day 36 – Monday, Jun 12 2023Shinjuku, Sakura House, Sophia University-
Day 37 – Tuesday, Jun 13 2023Akihabara-
Day 38 – Wednesday, Jun 14 2023Flight from Tokyo to Edmonton-
Final Thoughts--

Friday, May 26 2023 (Day 19)

Random Notes

This weekend will likely be a series of quiet blog posts again, as it’s the weekend before our last quiz (next Monday) and the presentation (next Friday) and I have to prep for both of those.

Also, these things:

We kept occasionally seeing these bottles of water around random telephone poles in Japan, and were wondering what their purpose was. As far as a quick cursory Google search told us, they’re apparently believed to somehow prevent cats from doing their business around that pole due to something about the light refracting through the water or something weird like that. They’re seemingly (local) called nekoyoke., or cat repellent

Last night’s blog and then homework kept me up until 4 am before I could fall asleep, and even with that I was up by about 7:30 am or so. This left me a bit bleary-eyed but I got to school and through the day just fine, it helped that there was nothing after school.

We skipped breakfast today, and had a small lunch — on our way to the cafeteria, we passed by a bento store that was an extension of the cafeteria but was a window facing the outside of the building, instead of the inside of the cafeteria, and it was only open for a small window around lunch, so we had never ordered from it before because we never really passed by that window on the way to the cafeteria before. Zian and I took the opportunity to buy from that just to try something new. My specific dish was called Chuuka Bento Ebichiri, or Chili Shrimp and Pork on Rice. It was a daily limited menu item, only 30 bentos were made that day, according to the sign:

It was actually pretty nice, but the portion size was tiny for the cost, compared to what you could get in the cafeteria for the same amount. Not worth it.

The reason we had been walking this way today is that yesterday’s lessons had been partially interrupted by a cacophony of construction noises taking place in the same building, so today’s classes were located in another building, the Gakujikan Hall, instead of our usual building, Yoyokan Hall.

They were weirdly small classrooms with weirdly large TVs, and our door came equipped with a rubber doorstopper to hold it open as it always wanted to swing shut even if we pulled it open to its maximum.

I still don’t like our Thursday/Friday teacher, Ms Hara, but she isn’t *bad*, nor are any of the other teachers, and I stumbled through the class without incident, perhaps partially due to the lucky study charm from Kitano Tenmangu yesterday that I was now carrying around with me. One thing I do like about all the senseis is that they like going down random rabbit holes if something comes up in class, for example today we learnt the difference between the two main words for happiness, ureshii and tanoshii, and how ureshii is meant to describe moments of happiness whereas tanoshii is meant to describe ongoing happiness. The example she used was that a marriage proposal would make the two people ureshii, while the happy marriage itself would make the two people tanoshii. Or that ureshii would be for a reaction to hearing some good news, or reaching some milestone in a game, wheras tanoshii would be for the ongoing effects of or reason for said good news (even if it only lasts for say 10 minutes or an hour), or to describe the feelings from playing the game in general.

We went to the Buddy chat room for lunch, and were surprised to find that none of the other visiting University students were there today. They must have had some lunch event somewhere else, as it seemed like the Buddy count was also significantly lower than normal. Or maybe everyone just had Friday ennui? A couple Buddies did stop by to chat with the 6 of us RSJP students who had lunch in there (the other two went directly to a ramen restaurant since we had no afternoon activity), and I ended up talking with someone named Ryuma, who had been to Singapore before in the past. We had a great chat and I taught him a Singlish word (shiok) and we tried to figure out what the best approximation in Japanese was for it (manzoku, or oddly enough, ureshii).

After lunch, Zian and I headed home. She was going to Osaka later on in the evening for the weekend and I wanted to get to bed. She stated a desire to take a different bus today (i.e. a slightly longer way home), and I readily agreed, so we walked through the neighbourhood to a different bus stop about 10 minutes away to catch bus 26 instead of the usual bus 205 home. On the way, we finally saw our first stray cat in Japan on this trip:

It noticed we were trailing it, so it hopped up on a wall and slipped through the cracks between a house and came out on the street on the other side before sauntering away smugly.

Once we were back at our Nishioji Shijo “home” neighbourhood, Zian also wanted to stop by a karaoke place, an idea that we had toyed with last week. I had no intention of singing, and indeed did not sing, but I did want the experience and gladly accompanied her along to one of the four or so karaoke centers within a two-minute walk of each other, Super Karaoke.

After a bit of a struggle figuring out what the desk person wanted from us to be able to sign up for a room, he handed us a room ticket number, and four cups, two for cold drinks and two for hot ones, on the house. There were also Japanese sweets on the second floor that were free, he stated. In reality though, while there were seven or so options for both cold drinks and hot drinks, and we both opted for cold juice, we only saw a cotton candy floss machine on the second floor and that was it for the Japanese sweets. It also usually had a throng of Japanese high school girls in their uniforms surrounding it, though we managed to get some free time with it right at the end of the karaoke session, after we checked out.

The session itself was cool, I helped Zian tweak the karaoke machine’s various volume knobs and chronicle the event a little bit (with her own phone) while she sang, and swayed back and forth to the music. She was a VERY good singer with a powerful voice and was very happy to find her favourite songs, mostly from Kiroro (and a couple from Goose house), on the karaoke list. She also occasionally wandered off the karaoke words and sung the Chinese version of the lines that she knew as well, which was great too.

The track list that they had was honestly pretty good, as far as I could tell. I didn’t do a whole bunch of searching but did find all my older favourite songs that I searched for, including Tremolo, Yume no Naka e, and Tenshi no Yubikiri, semi-new ones like Irochigai no Tsubasa, and even, oddly enough, Hikari no Naka e, the Kessoku Band single that I had just picked up from Tower Records two days ago. And it was already in the karaoke selection here (along with every other song from the band). Neat! Too bad it didn’t have a way to just play the song with full vocals so I could just listen to them, instead of just the karaoke versions to sing along to. And also, too bad that the karaoke system installed here didn’t have a point system to judge Zian‘s singing, heehee.

Anyway, here are some general pictures of the place.

We stayed there for an hour, which flew by, and then went home after that — the place was literally 30 seconds from my apartment (barring a construction holdup that was blocking the way home) and about 5 minutes from hers. Once I got home, I took a shower, fell asleep, woke up after two hours feeling terrible (as I always do with afternoon naps — I get a guilty feeling), did this blog post, and then headed out to buy groceries for dinner from the local Aeon Mall again.

I was in a pretty down mood as I went. I was thinking of a conversation earlier with Zian when she said she probably would be pursuing her PhD and still has about 8 years or so of school left to go. That and the stupid essay squabble yesterday, and the conversations I had with Kel and Nathan over dinner, somehow led me to ponder wistfully about not only what I plan to do and where I plan to go again, but what place I would consider home in the future. The theme of that walk was Diana Ross’s Do You Know Where You’re Going To, which I apparently have not yet featured on the Song of the Week portion of my regular-but-on-hiatus weekly blog posts yet.

To be honest, I’m scared of leaving my job and uprooting myself to go to some other faraway place for an extended period of time. But then you have globetrotters like Zian constantly going out to new places and pushing herself to see new things and dreaming big, and that inspires me too.

Anyway, actually reaching the mall and doing some grocery shopping cheered me up. I bought a packet of oden, which was very cheap, and when paired with a couple other things became way too filling. At least I’ll sleep well tonight.

Ms Hara had also recommended karaage from the Lawson konbini (convenience store) during today’s class, when mention of their mascot, Karaage-kun, a chicken character, came up. There was a Lawson on the way home, and I’m not one to disobey my teachers, so I bought a tiny wasabi and mayonnaise box for 220 yen. It was pretty good.

Lastly, while I still have not burnt through my last 10,000 yen note yet of the five that I withdrew near the start of the program, I wanted to test a hypothesis that I had on the first day of my Kyoto visit — that the Aeon Mall ATMs were actually cheaper than the 7-Eleven ones that were themselves reputably cheap. The 7-Eleven ones tack on a 110 yen fee for credit card account withdrawals of up to 10,000 yen, and a 220 yen fee for anything above that. But I was at Aeon Mall first when I started this test, so I started with their ATM. Withdrawing against my credit card’s credit account gave me 10,000 yen for $98.32 CAD. On my way back, 22 minutes later, I stopped by a 7-Eleven ATM and that gave me 10,000 yen for $99.40 CAD. So yes, the Aeon Mall one actually is cheaper for me, as it doesn’t seem to have that 110 yen fee, which calculates to something slightly over $1.07 CAD, basically the difference between the two fees.

Two things might still let 7-Eleven win out though. Firstly, when withdrawing 10,000 yen, 7-Eleven gave me the option of splitting it into smaller notes, ten 1,000 yen notes, instead of one large 10,000 yen one. If withdrawing exactly 10,000 yen, that’s quite possibly a cool advantange. Or it might not be. Also this only happens when withdrawing *exactly* 10,000 yen, no more and no less.

The other nice thing about the 7-Eleven ATM is that it offered to charge the cost to my card in either JPY or CAD, depending on what I preferred. Choosing the latter version means that they’d convert at the local rate before charging the CAD amount to my card. I looked at the CAD value they were offering to charge though, and it was $103.30 CAD, much higher than the way I did it. But this is partially because I have a no foreign exchange fee card, so I’m not actually paying any additional charge or interest on top of the direct amount that goes onto my credit card. Thus why I got $99 and change values compared to that $103 one. However, with other cards and in other situations, that local conversion might actually be worth it.

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The Slightly Longer Way - Japan Day 20

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