Saturday, 23 June 2012

Mountains and Monkeys

Today was pretty awesome and awesomely pretty.

The view from my house, containing Otouzan

It started early and by pressing the snooze button. In the town where I live and visible from my window, there's a large twin peaked mountain. Its name is Otouzan. Today, with seven others, I climbed it. I left my house at 8.15am, no skin exposed, sunglasses and a hat donned, as instructed by Kinoshita San, a local government man from my Eikaiwa. After meeting outside the town office and leaving our cars there, we headed into a part of the town I'd only driven past. It was, like every part of this country thus far seen, beautifully idyllic and utilitarian at the same time.

I knew very few of the details of what was planned, I'd mentioned climbing the mountain, kind of in passing, almost casually, but now I was on my way to do it and there were new faces all around me. I'd thought it was going to be just the two of us, but there were 6 men and a woman and they were all around 50 give or take a few decades. They were lovely, their English was quite minimal but Kinoshita San did his best to translate and he did a great job, it was nice seeing him use lots of English as he is perhaps a little shy in class. I was handed a box and a pair of chopsticks, a bottle of green tea and I smiled and arigatou gozaimasued my way through until my gratitude was appropriately conveyed. We first drove around behind the mountain, passing into really unfamiliar territory, which I should really go back to explore again, bamboo forests (Taki? or Take in Nihongo?) and the road was not one I'd like my car to go up, very very narrow and steep, over grown in places, to the extent that a window had to be wound down and a branch pushed aside.
We unloaded and headed up a watery track (which was apparently drivable too, REALLY not where I'd take my car) through bamboo and up into the mountain. The path was intermittently crossed with cobwebs which the leader often walked into (spiders and all. Quite big spiders too.)

the group of us that climbed the mountain
We reached a vantage point and for some mysterious reason the lady's umbrella (a black one with frilly edges) ended up in my hands and I was posing for a photo on the ledge with it. No idea how that happened. There were quite a few of these photos and all the men shouted "Kawaii" at me when I held it (which means cute) and they took a lot of photos of me, sometimes covertly, sometimes failing covertly, very overtly.
one of so many umbrella photos

We ate lunch (the bento box given to me, so nice!)

the ridiculously lovely Bento

 on the next stop, another lovely view and oddly enough took more umbrella edge photos. It was a really nice day, I tried my best to mime and nod and probably mangled my Japanese and my English into a big fat mwsh.
a pretty lost sign

Then came art class, which was fun as always.

Then the Guam party. I want to go into detail, but I don't want to write an essay. There were songs, sweet letters read to Host families, dancing, songs in Guam's language Chamorro and Japanese. It was really nicely done, if only I spoke more Japanese! Well there's one way to fix that... eat chocolate... okay perhaps not. (this is unrelated but yesterday was the day Guam students came to visit Tonoshou HS and there was origami, caligraphy, badminton, table tennis and a tea drinking ceremony oh and also in between all that there was Shogi (Japanese chess) which I so beat a Japanese national at :P) There was also a lot of food, very delicious Guam food. A lot of which is now in my fridge as there were amazing amounts of leftovers. I spent quite a bit of time trying to explain Sarcasm to a Japanese person, failing somewhat miserably. 

All in all, a lovely weekend (and week) and it's not even over yet!

And in fact, let's add to it:

After a busy Saturday, Sunday started with a nice lie in, but soon sped up. There were ribbons, farewells, monkeys, peacocks, deer, panoramas and the most wonderful of gifts. Let's have a photo summary:
these beauties are noisier than I expected

some of those dastardly monkeys

ahh and so the panorama photos begin

these were endlessly fun

and remarkably side splitting/cloning.

inspired by Manisha (and the photo above)

from art class

a lovely gift. Japan really does gifts well.

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