Right so the trip with the Board of Education… do I really need to go into any more explanation than the photo to the right? No, didn’t think so. I spent Saturday, from 10am to 9pm in a drunken stupor. Lordy, the things I do in the name of Internationalizationェ. Thing is, I’m relatively young, so I can see how I can cope with it, but how do these old guys do it?

For example, one of said Old Guys shows up at the restaurant at 8am the next morning and you know what he has for breakfast? A cigarette and a beer. How they’ve lived this long is a mystery to me. I guess there’s something to be said for Green Tea after all.

The coolest… well, the only actual local sight we took in on the trip was quite amazing. It was a shirne/gravesight called Toukouji. Let’s bust out the kanji lesson for Albert’s benefit since I know he’s reading this. It’s written as so (complete with furigana for pronunciation):

The first person to mail me with the correct meaning of this place’s name (you may use any means necessary, such as a dictionary or Japanese person) will get a souvenir postcard from Fukuma! What a cool idea! I just came up with that as I was typing just now. We just may have to have more of these little postcard contests in the future. Anyhow, get cracking kids!!

Anyway, when we went there, it was raining, there were low, foggy butts and not many people. And when I came to the sight itself I had lost the rest of the group and was there by myself, so it was dead-silent.

Creepy, friends. That’s the only word for the atmosphere of this place. I’ve never been scared, like actually frightened, by symmetry before being here. It was just… you know, creepy. Hundreds of stone lanterns were lined in rows in front of five gates (toori, as we call ’em here), which were flanked to the right and left by two raised grave sites surrounded by even more lanterns.

Have I mentioned the creepiness quotient of this place? Extremely cool!!

After that we stopped off for lunch and had the normal bajillion-course Japanese-style meal, as tasty as it was plentiful. Obata-san even tried to get into the international spirit and polished off a beer straight from the bottle, something unheard of here. And as anyone who has had a bajillion-course Japanese-style meal can attest to, you’re soon content to hibernate for a while as these city officials (who shall go nameless) can attest to.

We got to the hotel later on and… I’m starting to feel redundant here… we had a bajillion-course Japanese-style meal and drank a lot. Somehow it still remains entertaining to watch a bunch of old, Japanese guys get plowed and then start clapping and belting out whatever traditional song they can remember because the karaoke machine was broken. Heh heh. Culture is cool.

Okay, that’s it for today. Good luck to all those who try their hand at the postcard contest. Check back in a day or two to see who won.

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