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Showing posts from July, 2014

Graduations and Goodbye Parties

Well. It's official. I have graduated from PII and this very evening I shall head via night bus to Tokyo to catch my flight to Chicago tomorrow afternoon. It seems rather surreal--it's hard for me to believe that I"m really leaving (yet at the same time part of me just wants to hurry up and leave already, it's a very confusing dichotomy).

After finishing up the final exam yesterday, I took myself out for a treat.

That, my friends, is a medium fries, hot apple pie, and Japan-exclusive McDonald's menu item: teriyaki burger! (Which was surprisingly delicious...that teriyaki sauce made the usually dry burger quite tender and juicy). I don't think I've allowed myself this much McDonald's in a long while, but after these eight weeks I feel like I'm forgiven.

Then, today, was the PII graduation ceremony and farewell party. We all assembled at RIFARE in the morning and were called up one by one to receive a snazzy, and very official, graduation certificate…

Artsy-Fartsy Finished Products

Hey guys. Not many posts for this last week since it's mostly going to be filled with studying for my exam on Thursday and then I leave all in a rush on Friday. But I'll try and get some of my final impressions and/or photos of the final party up before my flight Saturday afternoon (it's funny because I'll actually land two hours before my flight. I love going "back in time").

Anyways, today the people from the pottery workshop came and dropped off our finished products! Huzzah!

That's my finished product. The grey slip turned a lovely olive-y green color and it's shiny and smooth to the touch. I love it! Now I just have to figure out how to safely pack it and get it home...

And to just end this post on an amusing note, have some weird English:

Movies and Meat!

Yesterday the newest Studio Ghibli movie, When Marnie Was There, came out in Japanese theaters. Unfortunately not a work of Hayao Miyazaki (since retired...) but it's by the director of The Secret Life of Arrietty, which came out a few years ago.
Regardless, When Marnie Was There is a movie based off the novel by Joan G. Robinson (and is currently out of print and impossible to find, even though I really want to read it...Amazon claims there will be a reprint next year but I'm impatient...)

I won't say too much about the movie since I'm sure an English version will come out eventually, but I will say that I enjoyed it. It was much better than I thought it would be; the background art was beautiful, as was the music. The ending was a little too well-wrapped up for my taste, but there was an element of ethereal mystery throughout the film. I'm really glad I went--and even MORE glad that I understood it!! Probably helps that there's pictures, but still!

Then we al…

Exchange Students AKA Performing Animals (Oh, and Coffee)

Today was my last PII cultural activity: oshie (literally "presssed picture"). Along with a cohort of other PII students we went to the Ishikawa International Lounge where we were each seated in front of a small craft kit to make an oshie cellphone strap:

Above is all the pieces of the kit, both in the bag and laid out. On the back of the fabric was a piece of shaped cardboard. You cut slits into the fabric to make it easier to shape around the curves, and after putting glue on the cardboard you pulled/pressed the fabric until it conformed to the shape of the cardboard.

The finished product!

The most interesting part of this experience was that a comedy duo from a legitimate Japanese television network came to film/talk to us. (My host father knew who they were, I'm just spacing on their name right now...) One guy wore a red tracksuit, the other wore a blue tracksuit and played the guitar, especially at the punchline of a joke. All their reactions were very exaggerated..…

From Worshiping your Ancestors to Worshiping Your Body

This weekend was the Kanazawa festival for Obon. Obon is a national Japanese festival (festival isn't quite the right word, and neither is holiday but it's the best I've got) where you visit your family grave and pray to your ancestors, leaving flowers, incense, and occasionally their favorite items. The dates of Obon vary by location: in Kanazawa it was this weekend, just outside of Kanazawa and most other places in Japan it's in August. Very confusing. But either way, Obon is a holiday of remembering your ancestors and showing them appreciation and respect. 

This is the Kosugi family grave. The little wooden placards hanging from the metal bar have the names of the people who visited the grave on them--my host mother was kind enough to also include my name.

A view of the rest of the graveyard. Despite the on-off rain there was a constant stream of people entering and exiting the grave.

From this, I completely switched gears and went to the 21st Century Museum for mo…

When in Japan, Eat Italian

Today I decided to do pretty much nothing. Lazy Saturday, as a reward for the midterm exam I'd had the day before. And I pretty much fulfilled that promise: I did absolutely nothing except eat and read poorly written novels from iBooks until the evening when I had my one pre-scheduled event.

The highlight of my culinary adventures was getting to go to my host family's friend's restaurant: he's the chef. Trained in France, he used to own a French restaurant, but after the economy tank he switched to Italian because it's less expensive. But all his food still had a slight French flair to it...

The restaurant is named Nitarato, which is a mix up spelling of his name (which I have casually forgotten...) WARNING: IMAGES OF DELICIOUS FOOD AHEAD. CONTINUE AT YOUR STOMACH'S OWN PERIL. 

Antipasti: small green salad with a light vinaigrette, smoked salmon with grapefruit and capers, smoked scallop, and prosciutto-wrapped fig.

Pasts with a light tomato sauce, squid, and s…

It's Almost like Fingerpaints...

So today was our last day of pottery: giving our bowls a glaze that will result in them being colorful and shiny once they've been fired. On the second floor of the workshop there were a dozen or so barrels with different colors of slip inside:

Once you decided on your color of slip, you stirred it vigorously with your hands. Then you filled a cup with the slip and poured it into your bowl to coat the inside. Then you turned your bowl upside-down and dunked it into the slip for three seconds as far as you wanted it to be. Most people left the bases of their bowls plain, but if you wanted to dunk it all the way in you could. The various colors of slip meant that some people looked like they'd been playing at a murder scene, or as Macbeth:

I chose an olive green color for my bowl, and while the slip looks grey I've been assured that it'll turn green after it fires. The kiln will be bringing our fired bowls to PII sometime within the next week or so (obviously before we l…