A few updates before I begin.
NaNoWriMo: Words? Hah. Now that’s just funny. (And depressing.)
Life: Freaking great. (I had another word and then I remembered this blog is PG. Well… maybe PG-13.)
So I spent Saturday to Wednesday in Nagasaki for what JET lovingly refers to as the “Mid-year Conference.” Most of this time was me running around needlessly spending money, though I did manage a few tourist activities (huzzah for the Art Museum! It was b-e-a-utiful). I drank too much wine and ate too much Indian food, but hey, when one lives on an island like Iki, I need to get my kicks while I can so that I can adore my tiny island all the better.
Still have not been to the Peace Park though. Eventually I’ll get there.
So on Saturday, Christine and I arrived in Nagasaki tired but not quite ready to go to sleep in our cute little hostel. We wandered down to Dejima Wharf (where the dutch used to live back when Japan was like, “Boo! We [heart] isolationism and you’s all white!” and they were like, “Yeah, but check out this cool tech” ::whirs something whirry:: And the Japanese were like, “Oh. Well. We’ll build you your own island so that you won’t mess with our populace but we can still take your money.”
Down by Dejima, they were having a Harley Davidson Festival! Talk about ironic, eh? Regardless, it was full hilarity. Just a random piece of down-home American culture stuck right in the middle of Japan. I particularly liked the fantastic Johnny Cash playing in the background by “Good Time Charlie”–a Japanese man who had barely any accent.
The bike above actually made me want to go out and buy a Harley. But, aside from the fact that I’d have to somehow figure out a way to bring it back with me to America in three years, I’d also have to get a special Japanese driver’s license in order to drive it, and that just takes way too much effort.
Can we just have a moment for the awesomeness that is Random Japan?
(Oh Jesus. I just heard CNNj say that Sarah Palin is thinking about running in 2012. Ok, that’s fine, but please pull yourself together before you do–take a couple classes on Foreign Policy at least.)
No pictures from the Art Museum–obviously–but the exhibit was on Christianity in Nagasaki (and, to some extent, Japan in general). For those who don’t know, Nagasaki was essentially the heart of Christianity in Japan for hundreds of years, even through a purge done during that whole “F-you Foreigners!” period. (Hey, they killed lots of Buddhists, too. They were equal opportunity murderers… I mean… samurai. ::looks shifty:: ).
It was interesting to see the growth and abundance of art and how Christianity is interpreted by Japanese artists. Half of the exhibit was made up of drawings and statues by Funakoshi Yasutake, which were suprisingly powerful. A charcoal sketch of Saint Anna nearly brought me to tears, actually. And this from someone who’s not at all religious. The power of art, I guess.
Monday and Tuesday were spent listening to the dulcet tones of presenters as they told me about life in Japan. A lot of it was old news, but I did get a number of great new ideas. I also met some excellent new folks (Isthmus!) and got to catch up with Sabrina and Emily from the first conference. Those gals are great. In fact, I’m planning on visiting them next weekend. Climb some volcanoes. Go to a few bars (we don’t really have bars on Iki…). Dance a bit. Maybe practice some more hangman.
Getting back to the point.
After conference, Christine and I spent Wednesday wandering around downtown Nagasaki near Glover Gardens. This is this huge, complex park that is a “National Treasure.” During the late 1800s, some Europeans (ok, they were mostly from the UK) ran to stake their claim in Japan after they opened to foreigners–this is where they should thank the US, a.k.a. Matthew Perry. No Glover Garden would exist without his big guns.
Regardless, there’s beautiful homes and architecture, a stunning view of the city, gigantic koi of doom, and a sense of serenity that was quite surprising.
Christine and I were wandering around, and I happened to look at the brochure and noticed I could do something to make me even more ridiculous. Well, I’m unable to say no to that so… enjoy?
So that’s all I’ve got. Picture heavy this time, but I do always think that pictures convey a lot more than my words can (and here I’m a writer… what does that say about my writing? shoot…). It really was a great time despite me spending so much money, and I’m very happy about it. Props go to Christine for planning the whole thing and dealing with my inability to make decisions when faced with several things I want to do. I swear to God, though, when I leave the island again I will NOT spend so much money.
So what’s going on in your lives? Visited any excellent museums lately? According to my Aunt there’s a great ikebana exhibit in St. Paul/Minneapolis right now–so if you’re in the area, go check it out and think of me. I haven’t been able to find an ikebana teacher on Iki, but Taiko, calligraphy, and Flaminco dancing (I know! great, huh?) will fill that void.