I went to Kikugawa's fireworks festival this weekend with a few friends (pictured below: Ami, Mika, and Sarah). We wore yukata (a summer kimono made from cotton instead of silk), ate chicken on a stick, drank fizzy soda, got gawked at a lot, got accosted by random people wanting to speak English (twice), ate snow cones, watched fireworks, and-- oh yeah, I almost forgot-- MET FORMER PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE. I spotted him first, mostly because of the swarm of bodyguards wearing earpieces and black suits. He walked right over to us (probably because of the good photo op with foreigners), said hello, where are you from, etc. (he speaks good English, by the way. duh. world leader), we got our picture taken with him (yes, I have photographic evidence. And I am smiling like a total cheeseball), met his wife (who was quite lovely, and also spoke English), and then he left. Apparently he lived in Kikugawa most of his life and came back for the famous festival. Shortly after that we drove home, laughing and talking about the experience the whole way, stopping at a 7/11 for Mika to make prints of the pictures for us.

Highlight of my ENTIRE LIFE (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But it's way up there). I could not sleep that night I was so excited. I have told everyone I know about it. I told my mom I met Shinzo Abe, and her first reaction was "Who is that?" To be fair to her, that would be most Americans' reaction. Since he was prime minister most of the time I've been in Japan I knew his name and his face.

One of my friends here in the city told me he went bowling with the mayor of Shimonoseki. He thought it was great news. I laughed in his face. "Oh yeah? I got one on you! Guess who I met this weekend?"


written by Ruthie @ 9:45 PM   1 comments
Cicadas woke me up an hour before my alarm this morning. I cannot believe how loud the cicadas are outside my window. When I'm walking outside with friends we actually have to raise our voices to be heard over them.

I learned the Japanese equivalent of "XYZ PDQ" the other day. In the US we use a subtle abbreviation (which I've always heard stands for "examine your zipper pretty damn quick"). In true Japanese fashion, however, the Japanese use a poetic, profound expression:

しゃかい まど あ
shakaino mado aitemasuyo.

Directly translated, this means "Your social window (window of society) is open!" Let's all ponder this idiom and what it might mean. In my mind this phrase is connected to some English phrases: "The eyes are the window to the soul," and others like it. Does that mean the trouser fly is the window to society? And if so, what kind of society has this degenerated into?

It is so hot and humid here in Shimonoseki that I am sweating even before I walk out the door of my apartment. I am not exaggerating at all about the sweating. My clothes are soaked through by the time I get to wherever I'm going. Is it this bad in Iowa? Please say it isn't so.

I watched Donnie Darko for the first time yesterday and loved it. It was depressing and weird, but good. So good. It made me think a lot. I love movies that make me think. I also love movies with Jake Gyllenhal. That cutie.

Tons of my friends have seen The Dark Knight and I haven't! Phooey! I am so super duper excited about seeing it, but it's not out in Japan yet. I'll have to wait until I get home.

Speaking of home, I will be there in approximately 11 days. Yikes!

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written by Ruthie @ 8:32 PM   2 comments
Things I Won't Miss
Last week I gave my list of things I'll miss about Japan when I return to the U.S. This week I'll tell you what I won't miss about Japan:

female sales clerks' high-pitched voices
consumption of cephalopods
excessive use of plastic bags
being a slave to ceremony and procedure
"yoroshiku onegaishimasu"
no insulation
being a celebrity because I'm white
random "harro"s from high schoolers
huge purple centipedes
no central air conditioning or heating
excessive, fake politeness
dog strollers
low chairs and couches
random public urination by drunk old men
sleeping on the floor
written by Ruthie @ 1:38 AM   1 comments
More Kit Kat kraziness last week. I found a bag of "double berry" Kit Kats. When an American hears the phrase "double berry," she usually thinks of strawberry and blueberry, blueberry and raspberry, strawberry and raspberry, blueberry and blackberry-- something like that. I normally do not think immediately of strawberry and cranberry:I kid you not. They aren't half bad, though. Not as tart as I thought they'd be, for being cranberry. But Kit Kat in Japan does not stop here, oh no.

Behold: TRIPLE BERRY. Strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry. What fruits will they cram into those tiny chocolate sticks next?

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written by Ruthie @ 5:23 AM   2 comments
Things I'll Miss
Some things I'll miss about Japan (in no particular order):

karashi mayonnaise
weird Kit Kats
MOS Burger
Mister Donuts
coffee jelly
Freshness Burger
random shrines/temples
renting CDs
using a sun umbrella and not looking pretentious
cheap, useful public transportation
good customer service
seeing the ocean and the mountains everyday
watching the boats in Kanmon Strait
my students
nicknaming the teachers
International Cafe
Etsuko-san's interesting cakes
Shibata-san's bread
all my great friends here
using a foldout fan and not looking pretentious
using Japanese words/phrases normally used by men or children
making little Japanese children cry
not having to pay rent
not needing a car to survive
sakura season
texting people in Japanese
black sesame ice cream
written by Ruthie @ 7:54 AM   3 comments
Yesterday was my second 4th of July in Japan. The first one went by virtually unnoticed, so I was pretty bummed that it looked like the second one would, too-- until Ami called me up and asked me to come over and do fireworks! She had hand-me-down fireworks from random foreign teachers who left them behind, so we ate some pizza, then went up to the roof to do some mischief...I am so glad that this picture turned out as well as it did. Notice the festive leis that Ami's friend sent her in a 4th of July care package. Also in the package were sparklers and American flags and other such Americana things. Because it was dark and we couldn't read the Japanese on the packages, most of the fireworks were a surprise-- some more than others. A few rocketed into the sky when we were expecting them to just flame up from the ground like this one:In all, though, a very successful night. None of the neighbors called the cops.


written by Ruthie @ 12:44 AM   1 comments
This is the most disgusting creature I have ever seen in my life:No, not Gary Busey. Though he comes in a close second, I was referring to this disgusting creature:For awhile we thought it was dead because it didn't move for a few days. Ami and I have been checking it every morning as we come into school. Then like 2 days ago when we came in we noticed a leg had moved. It is, by far, the biggest spider I have ever seen.

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written by Ruthie @ 8:12 AM   0 comments

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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