Thursday, July 28, 2005

The daily grind on my vacation!

Again, I spent most of the day chugging away at my work. So now I have settled into the daily grind here in Japan. Or I HAVE TO settle into the daily grind, as I have a mountain of work to do. Today’s highlight? While on a short stroll around the station, I met three British backpackers from a village south of London. They looked truly lost trying to find the bus stop. Now despite some English-language signs, Hiroshima station, it is confusing for foreigners who do not understand Japanese. But at least there are passers-by you can ask questions in English. Being in Japan makes me realize how international of a language English is, and what an advantage we Americans have when we travel. Ironically, you get to interact with more foreigners in Japan because you don’t take each other for granted. You find someone who speaks English and you strike up a conversation. You end up talking to people you normally would not talk to if you were back in the United States.

Today is the day of the eel. I forgot to take pictures, but you are supposed to eat eels on this, supposedly the hottest day of the year. So we all gorged on broiled eel, which tasted delicious. It is enjoyable to do traditions like this and see everyone else eat the same food at the same time. Of course, it means huge profits for eel restaurants, and they see their profits soar.

I walked home alone at night, and passed by a small group of young punks. I was going to take a picture, but thought the better of it. Still, I did not feel the fear I normally would back in Hawaii if I were walking alone in the middle of a city at about near midnight. First of all, I am physically bigger than most Japanese young men, and so I feel confident I can hold my own in a brawl. Next, guns are strictly controlled in this country, so I need not fear an armed holdup. Last of all, youth here have been socialized to not use violence to solve disputes. Of course, this country has its share of crime (a murder made NATIONAL news today: a 53 year old man stabbed another man to death) but there is a social compact: everyone will have a piece of the pie and basic human respect so long as you work hard.

Speaking of fighting: I watched news of K-1 fighting and the press conference at the Ala Moana Shopping Center featuring Akebono. I felt homesick seeing the Crabtree and Evelyn in the background, and the shots of the cool blue ocean. The weather here has cooled down, but does not compare to Hawaii.

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