It’s been a while since I’ve written to you all. I’ve had quite a bit of adventures and so much to tell you all. Most days I’ve been exhausted and just needed rest. I’ve seen many people sleep on the trains to and from work, but I didn’t think I would end up just like them. Work is just a routine. There are some rewards every now and again. For instance, in my workplace in Saitama, there was a man who bowed and thanked us. And, in the Kid’s Cafe, I taught a child how to make a paper airplane. We also played Jenga together. My main concern about work was the hours I needed to put in. As it turns out, I’ve been miscalculating the hours I’ve actually put in. I only discovered this recently after talking with Amanda (fellow IWU FreemanAsia student) about how she’s been calculating her work hours. That was a relief to hear because I was just about ready to ask for work 6 days of the week.
Enough about work, let me tell you about what I did with my weekend. First, I went on a ship with Connor and Emma that cruised around the Tokyo area. We were told that if we had a yukata, which is like a long robe with a bow/belt wrapped around the waist, we would get a big discount. Emma borrowed her yukata from her host family’s daughter. However, Connor and I thought it might be more expensive to buy the yukata than to buy the ticket at it’s normal price. In the end it was expensive but worth it. The ride was beautiful. I don’t have a very good picture of it, but the city lights up from a distance. You can see Tokyo Tower, Skytree, and rainbow bridge. While I was on the ship I met a couple of guys who spoke english. They told us that they used have an internship in America and we became friends. I hope to hang out with them sometime in the future.
The next day was even more amazing. I went to an onsen for the first time. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring, but, sometimes, it is also a word that is used for any bathing facilities centered around a a hot spring. Emma’s host family had invited me to go. Thank god I had Takeshi-san, Emma’s host dad, guiding me through the hot springs. There wasn’t just one bath to get into. There were seven. One was a general hot spring. Another was a scented bath. There was even a carbonated bath, which felt like I was in a soda bottle. I wanted to see how long I could stay in the cold bath, but I couldn’t do more than two minutes. The sauna was so hot that my lungs felt as if they weren’t breathing air, just hot gas. Some people cooled off by resting on some wooden planks, and others stayed hot by laying down on some hot rocks. When I got into the hot tub, I thought it was a relief to get into something familiar. However, there was one spot that confused me. Nobody sat on one part of the hot tub. I asked Takeshi-san what that part was. He said there were jets on that side. I thought he meant regular hot tub jets, so I reached down to feel them. A sting of electricity instantly made me pull back. The other guys in the tub laughed at me. I was so confused at what was happening. Takeshi-san disclosed to me that that part of the tub typically helps people with back problems. I don’t know how, but it sounds interesting.
Even though the clear, beautiful, sunny days in Japan were a blessing, the heat was killing me. The heat was bothering Connor and Emma, too. Connor, Emma, and I decided that there was only one way to beat the heat. The beach. We made our way down to this fantastic beach. It wasn’t very crowded, the water was nice and warm, and the wind was a godsend. Some people were out playing in the sand, others were windsurfing, and most people, including us, just went out swimming. It was very fun, and very tiring. I had to rest on my beach towel and for most of the trip back.
DisneySea. You might think that it’s for children, but it was very entertaining for Connor, Emma, and I. The first line we went in was not so lucky. Connor wanted to show me this ride called “Tower of Terror”. I’m not very good with anything scary, so I thought I wouldn’t like it. It turned out to be pretty fun. It was like a story. A man would go around the world collecting ancient artifacts and one, in a cliche manner, ends up being cursed. The artwork inside was pretty cool too. I would say more, but I don’t want to spoil the ride for those planning to go. The one drawback was the wait in line was about 3 hours. The wait was worth it because there were some amazing special effects. I felt like I was watching a magic show. I never remembered Disney being this amazing. They had holograms! (The kind where you think it’s real). Unfortunately we didn’t go on many rides because our little group was confused about using the “fast pass” at DisneySea. I almost cried when we found out that the fast passes are free. All of us thought that we had to pay for them, so we stood clear of the “fast pass” booths. Before heading back, we decided to watch the light show. It exceeded my expectations. I never thought I would like DisneySea as a 21 year old man, but, honestly, I think it would be a great place to take my friends. I don’t think they have a Disney like this in America, and I doubt we will for quite a while.
There are a few things I miss from home. I miss watching movies with my family. I miss ordering my meals in english and being understood. I miss being able to hold down conversations with people I meet and having small talk. However, I haven’t found much I don’t like here Japan. The weather is a little annoying. The walks are long. The trains are crowded. They seem like very minor nuisances right now, but I wonder how things will end up at the end of my stay. Now that things have settled down, I’m planning on writing more. Look forward to more posts!