Wednesday, August 29, 2012

メンフィスって、何それ? [Memphis, you said? What's that?]

Talk about a head trip! Check out what I found on the subway a few weeks ago. I had to do a triple take to make sure I was reading the uniform right. Particularly since the color theme isn't even remotely close to correct.

At the time I was only going one stop on the train, which meant when I realized what I was looking at I had less than a minute before my stop. A frantic scramble to unearth my camera from the depths of my bag and squeeze off as many shots as possible ensued. Of course, this got me bewildered, furtive glances from everyone else in the car. One guy actually followed me all the way to the sidewalk outside the subway exit and started asking me questions because of it. We had a conversation roughly as follows:

"Excuse me, do you speak English?"
"Uh... yeah. Hi."
"Can I ask?"--I nod to him--"Why did you take a picture on the subway?"
"Oh, it had the name of my hometown. Nobody in Japan knows it, so I was shocked."
"I see. Why this stop?"
"I live near here."
"Okay, thank you."

After an obligatory bow, he then walked in the opposite direction, making it screamingly obvious that he didn't just happen to be walking the same way. Rather amusing, since I highly doubt he would've had the social gumption to walk up some stranger of his own nationality and question them about their behavior.

Explanatory note: The picture was part of an ad for a local university's open campus for potential students. My best guess being that they have the option for an exchange semester to Memphis.

What about you? Ever had a familiar place name crop up in a bizarre context? Tell me all about it below!

Monday, July 16, 2012

もう一つ海の日 [Another Year, Another Marine Day]

Hurrah for Marine Day! What's that, you say? You have no idea what I'm talking about? Well, let me tell you what I know: 1) its name has to do with the ocean; 2) it's a national holiday in Japan; 3) no Japanese person I've asked seems to know what it celebrates, exactly.

In this case, I am not one to press for answers--like any good working woman, I love an extra day off. And this day off was all the better for being a quiet one. I got up late. I did laundry. I drank a home-made smoothie. I went grocery shopping and called my mom. Basically I filled my day with the practical little things required by life.

As I waited at the crosswalk after grocery shopping, I found myself enjoying the weighty heat of the summer against my skin and the the wind that occasionally stirred it.  It brought to mind the words of a character from a book I've been reading recently: "We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather... Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up."

I'm inclined to agree. Here's to trying to accept the heavy, lush summer as a child would.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

暇な線香花火 [Sparklers, Just Because]

Tonight was a night for sparklers. We didn’t have any particular reason to burn them, since Independence Day is almost a week past now—and my roommate is Australian, anyway—but we did. And it was good.

Today was without precipitation despite being in the midst of Japan’s rainy season; a welcome reprieve! However, our rainless day came courtesy of a blustery, intermittent wind, so perhaps tonight wasn't the greatest time for this activity. Didn't stop us.

Lighting the sparklers on our balcony became a sort of comedic dance as we lit match after match, trying to get the flame to catch before an unpredictable gust extinguished the small point of light. The wind dictated our choreography. We began facing each other with match and sparkler extended tip to tip, then stood shoulder to shoulder with hands stretched out to shelter the air before us, then crouched low to the balcony’s concrete floor like a pair of flame-wielding frogs. By the end, our use of matches created a rather prodigious pile:

Eventually we managed to avoid the ever-changing air currents just long enough for our fireworks to catch. Avoiding the jumping sparks, we quickly pirouetted away from each other and dangled our little fountains of fire over the balcony ledge. We then followed the sparklers’ path with our eyes as we waved them wildly back and forth in the dark—which is of course the proper way to enjoy handheld fireworks, as any kid can tell you.