Saturday, August 30, 2008

One last Yakiniku and Sunset

My last meal in Shikaoi was understated by some standards but I wouldn't want it any other way. In many ways it captured the essence of Japan for me. I headed out to the Mogami's farm after a busy day of last minute packing, cleaning, and good-byes to pounce on some barbecued beef, pork, oysters, salmon, lake fish and veggies. It has been unusually cold and rainy - fall-like in every respect - for the last couple of days but today we were blessed with a warm summer evening. Mrs. Mogami kept apologizing it was just us huddled around a grill but it was nice to give them my full attention while slowing down a bit after a whirlwind month.

I should probably update readers about me upcoming travel plans. It is true that my three years in Shikaoi wind down tomorrow at 9:30AM as I make my way to Sapporo and from there, on Monday, to Miyazaki-ken. If you have a map handy; look at toward the south of the southern island of Kyushu.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I said I promised some pictures

I promised some images and found myself with some time today so I'm squeezing an incredibly busy week into a short post with a couple of pictures.

There were a lot more people at my English teacher party and there were a couple of good shots but none of them made them back to me in time for this post. Last sunday we had a party at the farm of one of the teachers and though it felt like fall (much like a Canadian summer) I think everyone had a good time.

This is our host's father manning a a very rare in Japan pizza oven. We also had roasted sweet corn and bread from the oven. Simply amazing!

And what's a party without fireworks?!?!

The next night I had the formal town's good-bye banquet. I couldn't really take any pictures during the cermony because I was integrally included in the program. Here I am afterward with some of the teachers I worked closely with.

Here I am with some people that mean a lot to me: my badminton club. I have a lot of kind words to say about them. Last night too they surprised me again by making elaborate plans to take me out. I was impressed that they would even organize such a night because they are all so busy with their own lives. Needless to say we all drank way too much and it was fun to talk about badminton in minute detail for hours.

All the photos in this post as less than steller so here is one artsy shot for the road.

Monday is done, Friday is almost done.

Okay, so I will admit this blog has been pushed back to back burner - way to the back burner - as I get ready to leave. But I promise more updates with pictures in the future; once I get down south. Things have been amazingly busy here as I move my life back to Canada and I ask for the reader's patience and understanding. I have offically finished my last day of work. In the last two weeks I have said good-bye to hundreds of kids, in addition to all the cards and heart-felt messages I've received, my students have left me one more gift I am sure to take with me to Kyushu: A cold! No doubt a result of the hundreds of hugs and handshakes I've received. Hopefully the abundant heat and mangos or Miyazaki-ken will banish it!

Monday is done, Friday is almost done.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

3 Days of Fun

Last night my DJ gig went very well. It was much smaller than in the past but I have no pretensions about my DJ status in the world and would rather play my private good-bye party to 40 greatful friends than hoards of nameless fans. Saturday night deserves a much longer update at some point in the future. Today - soon - I'm our the door to the English teacher good-bye party and then tomorrow night I have the big town good-bye party. I'm just going to keep my head down and a smile on my face and enjoy my last couple of days in Shikaoi.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

800th Post

This is the 800th post on The Perfect Architecture company and it's kind of a pathetic post because it just filler so readers know I haven't completely forgotten about it. Things are moving very rapidly toward the close of my time in Shikaoi before I am off for short tour of Japan. I have so many things in the air it's amazing. I have so many small things to do and everything has to be done perfectly in order for it to come off smoothly it's amazing. I am starting to see some of my students for the last time as I rotate through my schools this week and next and that is a weird feeling. I have thought a lot about the best way to do it by nothing comes to mind. Nothing can really expresss what sunshine they brought to my job daily, nor can any situation capture the finality of our meeting. And the absolute finality of it is the really pressing issue. What to do about it? What impressing to leave? Can I even control that aspect? I like to think my students will remember our classroom times more but one can't take that for granted. A last piece of good news has finaly come my way - it was about time some luck broke my way - I have been comfirmed to play one last DJ set this Saturday at the Pure Malt Clubhouse. I plan to blow the roof off the joint with some great friggn tunes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bon Odori Time!

One last festival was on my calander this month. Yesterday was Shikaoi's Bon Odori. A summer festival where people return to their hometown to honour their ancestors. The cumulation of the festical is a large dance in the center of town. My office had put a group togather but I choose to mingle in the crowd instead and visit. It was great see so many people who I don't get to see nearly often enough but with the topic of my imminent departure coming up so often it was not the happiest of occasions. The music is kind of this slow 2-1-2 with lyrics about farm life and such, with maybe a couple of songs about how hard fishing is. I couldn't catch many of the words because they used very old polite Japanese but I liked the music enough to think my ear has finally grown accustom to the wierd tones and harmonies they use in traditional Japanese compositions.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Attack of the Moth

About the only thing worth reporting above and beyond how busy I am in Shikaoi, is that the number of moths has increased exponentially the last couple of days. The reasons for the increase are not well understood but it is kind of creepy. No pictures either; those buggers are hard to capture. In continuance of porting my online self to facebook I have put up some more pictures there. This blog has not been abandoned, I just don't feel I have the time to blog in depth here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Elbow deep in details

So many little things to do before I leave, none of it particluarly fun. I spent a good portion of the morning trying to figure out what I need to change my work visa to a travel visa for the couple of days at the end of my stay before I go home. It should go rather smoothly as the restrications are not nearly as comprehensive as getting the work visa in the first place. I'm planning two trips at the same time (and this I kind of like because I love details). One for me of southren Japan. I really wanted to see the South after living in the North for so long. Still the most southern I've been is Wakayama-ken. I would feel incomplete if I didn't see it before leaving. Secondly, my parents and I are working on a plan to have my old host-family the Tsuchiya's from Koriyama travel home with me and stay with us for a couple of days. It will be an honour.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Eating Like a Champ

Finally I am writing this under clear skies today. For the last week it has been humid and overcast leading to a weird set of conditions where it was super foggy every morning (a point I will return to in a moment) and we saw the temperature hold steady day and night at 20C. It's so humid. One always feel sticky. Even whist sitting in the office without any movement one sweats. I don't want to complain too much because things could be worst. I could be in Tokyo. Where not only would I have to put up higher temperature and higher humidity. I would be forced to look at people in suits while doing so.

Raining Saturday and Sunday, the last of the rain cleared overnight, letting us wake up this morning to blue skies. By the end of the week we should be in the 30s again. I have mixed feelings about this; after so much wetness a spike in the temperature might make the humidity worse, but at the same time I am happy to see the sun again.

Last week I ran four mornings and each of them in the fog. Really dense fog. It was quite magical and refreshing as long as one was safe. I don't normally see much traffic on the country roads I run on, especially last week since most farming work seemed to be on pause for the weather. The dampness left my feet - which under the best running circumstances should be kept dry (hence the fancy shoes and socks) - looking a bit tired. But no one ever died from blisters. Furthermore, on the long end of an hour, other body parts are hurting much more than toes. Being not so hot for summer I did a super-human effort on Sunday - 18km. I don't know the exact time but I remember being very happy with the pace. I know for sure it was 18km because I ran out to a distance sign way in the friggn middle of nowhere saying Shikaoi was 9km away and then back again. It rained twice during that period. It wasn't too bad because all my gear is super-quick drying, super-breathable, but I've never really liked running in the rain, as refreshing as it feels, because of the whole wet foot issue again. The house was so hot I decided to take a swim in the evening again. That was 50min in the pool.

It is my working philosophy that the only way to really safely achieve this level of fitness is to eat - a lot. That's a good thing because I love food. I'm not dieting as such but to not starve myself I follow how much I eat pretty closely. I know that for someone my size, even just sitting in the office digesting and then in front of the TV drooling I can burn anywhere from 2000-2500kcal. A long run is easily over a 1000kcal and then swimming too is probably just under 1000kcal.

As a treat for lunch, and as a result of being super tired, I broke down broke down and went to 7-11, which actually has pretty good ready made food, but, as I have mentioned before, they are all super high calorie. There is a rumor they use butter fried rice for their rice balls, which would make sense because I really don't know how else one could pack 200kcals in a rice ball that small. Booya! So that was 750 calories right there. For dinner I made myself some pork curry, in which I doubled down on the pork content with both chunks of pork and lean ground pork plus carrots, onions, and for me, though not traditional, broccoli (the stems are great in curry). I had a huge portion and I can imagine that was around another 750 calories or so. Something sugary for breakfast and I hope I had enough to eat yesterday.

Another twist to such overcast and humid weather last week was that I did no laundry. Things were looking a bit bare for work this morning. On Monday I had put in a load of towels and quickly came to the conclusion the effort was futile. Nothing was going to dry inside my house or out. Happy to see the sun this morning, I was up early for a walk along the river (no run as I thought my legs deserved a break) and put in a load of laundry before I left and did another when I got back before I ate breakfast and before I left for work. I plan to throw in the towels again that have been sitting there week damp in their little drying room as they would probably pass for a science experiment at this point. Even now its so hot. Why is it so hot here? I think I we've moved to the surfact of the sun. I think my body is melting. I can barely think