Friday, January 25

January 24th

I saw another white person today. 3, actually! That makes 5, so far. I saw the first white person earlier this week. It shocked me, then I thought…”No…I must have seen a white person since I got here.” But I realized I hadn’t. Mid-week I saw one more, and today I saw three. I think it was because I was in Kyoto, though, which is more tourist-y. 5 white people in two weeks. Now you understand why I feel out of place. Actually, the only people who stare at me are occasional small children. I’m not actually that different looking, other than not being Asian. I went to Kyoto today with Takemori-San to see the chemical heat pump that is one of my projects, sort of – I’m ‘providing assistance’ to other members of the team. We took a train, and it was a 30 minute trip for 540 Yen – about $5. I had to pay. I think that if I’m going somewhere for work, with work, they should pay! But I’m in Japan, and I don’t know how these things work, so I figure that if they were going to pay, he would have paid! We went to Kyoto University, which was neat. It’s not so different than UBC…it has old and sketchy engineering buildings, a clock tower, and a big fancy entrance to the library. We got there at around 2:30 and stayed until 6:00. They were chattering in Japanese the whole time, and I was staring at the system trying to figure out how it works. Thermodynamics is not exactly my strongest subject. It was in a graduate lab which wasn’t heated, and the door was wide open. On the bright side, I did get to watch the large snowflakes fall for part of the time, and it made me miss snow. Tomorrow is my presentation, and I should be practicing right now, but I’m practiced out.
I had an up and down day today…partially excited that I’m in Japan, and partially super homesick again. The homesickness is always there, but some days it’s harder to deal with. Fortunately – this weekend I may get some friends! I’m meeting up with JP (another coop student in Osaka) on Saturday morning. It sounds like the group of Co-ops in the area aren’t exactly the ambitious and planning type. I’m going to meet JP at the train station near his apartment and hang out there and use the internet for a while. I’m excited!!! I’ll get to post all these blogs, email people back, and check my Facebook. I can check email at work, but use it minimally – I think I have 30 or so Facebook emails to deal with. Yay – somebodies love me! :)
I found out today that miso soup and rice are part of every meal in Japan. Yes, every meal. I make my own breakfasts, so today I asked what a ‘Japanese breakfast’ would be. Guess what. Yep – it includes rice and miso soup. Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper all include a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup. Interesting…I told my friends at work that to eat the same thing, every day, three times a day – in Canada, this would be very strange. I also had a heckuva time trying to explain oatmeal to them. The closest things we came up with were cornflakes and flour. I printed a picture later to show them tomorrow. It’s weird to think someone doesn’t know what oatmeal is.
Osaka is a large city, and I’m not sure what the rest of Japan is like, but don’t think I could live here long term. It’s not the big-city-ness, I love Vancouver. I realized today, watching fields fly by between Osaka and Kyoto, that within Osaka, itself, green space is rare. Vancouver has lots of parks and trees and green areas. Osaka doesn’t, at least not that I’ve seen. It does, however, along with the Pachinko & Slot and vending machines, have hair salons around every corner. Everywhere. The Japanese must love their hair!
I’m going to bed early – I got caught up studying last night and went to bed late…I hate being tired in the mornings. Goodnight – I miss Kelowna and Vancouver and Sparwood and Canada and my stuff and my bed and my friends and my other friends and my family and English signs and English food and cheese and Swedish Berries and Smarties and hugs. Especially hugs. Especially hugs.

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