大嶋先生、お誕生日おめでとう! =) Happy Birthday Oshima-Sensei
This past weekend I had yet another Rotary Orientation, this time visiting the towns of Ashikaga and Sano City. It was a fun weekend spent with friends, Rotex, and Rotarians. I always enjoy my trips to see the district Rotary people, they’ve truly become some of my favorites here in Japan. On Saturday morning, Simon, Anaïs, and I made our way to Sano City where we met Amberly, Max, Ayano, and Chisaki.
The schedule, however, was thrown off slightly because the train the Anaïs and Simon and I were on actually experienced a suicide. I hope I’m not too graphic but unfortunately people stepping in front of a moving train as a form of suicide is just another sad part of Japanese culture. This weekend was our first experience with the ordeal, it also happened to be a firsthand one. When we suddenly stopped in the middle of the tracks, passengers started looking around, wondering what was going on. That’s when the conductor came on and explained that there had been an accident. As police started to arrive and more and more officials crowded around our train we began to understand what was going on. It took nearly an hour but eventually the line was reopened and we were able to continue. I hadn’t expected this to happen, but when I stuck my head out the window to see what was going on I was actually able to see the body nearly 20 feet down the track behind our car. It was my first time seeing a dead body like that and it wasn’t exactly how I wanted to start my weekend.
Now as for the fun parts! We spent the day shopping at the Sano Mall (aka Amberly’s second home), eating famous Sano Ramen Noodles, meeting up with other Rotarians, visiting the beautiful Ashikaga Flower Park Illuminations, eating Yaki Niku, singing the night away at Karaoke, and sleeping over at Otake-San’s home (you may remember he’s the one whose cabin we stayed at near Mt. Fuji…simply put, this house was just as nice!). To give you an idea of his house, I got to drink mountain water from Mt. Fuji in a solid gold goblet! Amberly and I stayed up late talking with him and that was one of the treats he shared with us, it was an awesome experience; we felt so rich! haha Then on Sunday we gathered for sightseeing in Ashikaga. The town is home to the oldest school in Japan (it used to teach Samurai!) and is now a national relic. We also saw the shrine of Bana, which has several old wooden buildings and a gigantic wedding ceremony tree. There were many 20-year-olds taking kimono photographs for today’s holiday [read more about that below]. Throughout the rest of the day we got to sew kimono fabric at a well known Ashikaga weaving spot, ate lunch with friends at Coco’s Restaurant which was a nice treat of Western food again, went to karaoke once more, and finally took the train home.Today being the national coming of age holiday celebrating anyone who has turned 20 years old throughout the past year, I had one last blessed day of winter break. This has truly been a fantastic break for me and I feel revitalized and excited for what lies ahead in the coming months. I made it over the hurdle of early winter that many exchange students must face and now I’m simply cruising. I’m glad I’ve made it now, it’s all worth the while!