Monday, September 28, 2009

Out on the town

Greetings from Yokosuka, Japan.
Unfortunately, the pictures were posted backwards so my trip will be viewed from the bottom up. sorry. Bon voyage.
Well, I finally left my little neighborhood and saw some of the town. What sucks about being in a “gated community” like mine is that there are only a few gates to exit the place. The other is that I forgot my map. Yeah, I learned a little more about my community on the way out. Well, that was fun. Anyways, I finally got out the back gate and turned left. There was a fountain I’d seen through the fence and thought it was really close. I was wrong. It wound up being what felt like at least a mile. My pamphlet says it was only 15 minutes. I must have been tired from getting to the gate to begin with. What I’ve found fascinating of the country I’ve seen so far is how much the Japanese love their fountains. I followed a continuous fountain down the city street for at least 10 of the 15 minutes; the first picture is part of the fountain. I guess fountain wouldn’t be a good term since there were places that were barely moving, but I don’t know what would be an accurate word. The park itself was cool. I learned from my pamphlet (back in my room at that time) that the park was named Mikasa Park and was the sight of the “famous Mikasa flagship”. I took a picture of the ship but didn’t go there. I did see the people exploring the ship but I was looking for the fountain. The fountain was dormant when I got to it but every hour it is a fountain choreographed to music and what I caught on my escape was cool.(the third picture is the fountain. It looks like a pond but if you look close and see the black spigots, it really is a fountain) However, I was bored and not in the mood to sit and wait in the sun for a half hour so I left and returned to the gate.
Instead of going in the gate, I decided to continue on and see what I could see. As expected, I passed numerous Japanese stores, like two spas and a few restaurants, but I also passed way too many American stores. Grr. Eventually I passed the main gate (with, surprise, surprise: another fountain. Still, something must be said for the genius of each fountain. ) and found a mall obviously meant to cater to the Americans next door with all its English. Still, it held all types of Japanese stuff. New traditional kimonos are worth over a hundred thousand yen. A thousand yen is about 11 dollars, for those of you interested. Sorry, but that’s a little expensive for a gift. Used ones are less expensive but I need to get to a flea market for those. I quickly noticed how expensive everything was there. It was hard to find anything, other than food, for under a thousand yen.
Anyway, the mall itself was odd. It was almost like a department store with little stores in a circle in the middle of each story. It also had a lovely size food court and theater. Also, the department store area was different. Picture Macys or the old Dayton store. In each section (teen, petit, plus sizes…) are divisions for separate designers. Now imagine each designer having their own cashier. It almost seemed like each square area was another store without a title. It was kind of interesting, almost like each department store is its own mall. Odd. I also noticed that apparently jewelrymaking is quite popular over here. There were two stores with a large selection of beads just in the mall. The store was mostly stones and the other part of the mall appeared to be part of the department store similar to Hobby Lobby or Micheals. I picked up some awesome seed beads in small quantities and discovered it’s hard to pick up random, unplanned beads when I know I have limited space and each thing is more expensive than in the States. Also, most of the jewelry sold in the little designer sections looked homemade. Like I said, it was interesting.
I decided to try out the Wendys outside the mall, which was not a good idea. The burger was fine, the potatoes slightly off since they use different potatoes here and the tea was not one I’ll repeat. However, the problem was that I’d been on my feet for about four hours straight and just wanted to lay down with an awesome drink. Eating something that isn’t spectacular for the sake of eating is rarely a good idea. Interesting though, they don’t serve sugar to go with tea. They serve small cups of gum syrup, handed out in containers like creamer is served in. The syrup is super sweet and u should only have used half of the container, if only the tea hadn’t been so bitter. As it was I forced myself to finish the drink as I needed liquid after walking so long. I than headed back to my room. I used the main gate. Now remember I left through the back gate and had no map with me. Yes, I got lost again. I managed to find rather select maps that gave a general idea of where I was and got back to my room after dark after having been walking for an hour. Yes, I turned on my tv, grabbed an awesome drink, and sank onto my couch. Thank God I still have no roommate.
Now, some random facts about Japan. First, sunrise is before 6 am and sunset is before 6 pm. Yea. Also, the UK is not the only kingdom that drives on the wrong side of the road. That’s right, they do it over here as well. I’m suddenly quite glad I can’t drive. Another tip: don’t drink matcha tea. It’s a common drink here and I tried the Starbucks version. I won’t make that mistake again. It tastes like near pure seaweed. Blah
And now, i'll leave you with one last thought: When did Lady Liberty become a goddess? :)
Well, that’s it for now, here’s to wishing you all an awesome week (or more, till I write again).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Journey #1

Greetings from Yokosuka, Japan.
I left the Midwest on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 and landed in Seattle to spend a day with my sister who was visiting her boyfriend’s family. I had fun meeting the family (I’m the first of my sister’s family to meet the guy or his family so bragging rights. :P ) and trying to get a good picture of the Space Needle. Oddly, even though they’ve lived less than an hour from the city much of their lives, that was the only tourist thing they could think of. What else is there out there, non-natural. They did suggest hiking Mount Ranier and I saw Puget Sound. Although the hike would’ve been fun, I didn’t have enough time to hike and get to the plane. Boo but I saw the Space Needle. (and sadly, this is the best pic of me and the Needle. Don't worry, I have better ones I'm not in.)
I got to the airport hours before we left but right when they told me. (Boo on international flights) and we left at 3 am the 17th and I slept the first two hours til we landed to refuel in Alaska. From there I slept on and off for a few hours until we were over the Arctic and the turbulence kept me awake. I didn’t mind, though, because I had a widow seat and got to see the glaciers and watch the sun come up. I remember looking down at the endless mounds of snow and thinking I’d describe it as endless hills of white occasionally broken by winding rivers, threads of an ocean that refused to be conquered. I wish I’d had my camera accessible so I could show you just how gorgeous it was to watch the rays of pink and faint purple followed by bright yellow chase the dark purple from the soft, faint clouds above the endless mounds of white. It’s a view I’ll always treasure and I wish I hadn’t put my camera in a bin that would’ve meant waking up too many people to get into it.
Anyway, I landed in Japan a little before 6 am and was at the airport for hours. We finally got on the bus destined for my new home and it left about 8 am for a three hour ride, mostly through towns that were very space efficient. I remember my first impression of Japan from the air was the incredible difference between the US and this tiny island. The US is so spread out from above. True, it’s often a patchwork of varying greens or obvious wild lands but Japan is a study of precise land use. The only land not used is too steep or rocky to be any good for farming, the rest is put to use and very efficient. As I flew over head the land was a patchwork quilt with small pieces, each acre appearing a different color or many colors, and the cities reminded me of my childhood times playing with legos. The houses were every different color imaginable and appeared built with no space between them. When I rode through the towns, I realized the best yard most houses could dream of were the potted plants lining the street. Businesses were lucky to have a walking space between the next building and houses could’ve been built onto each other for all the space between them that there was.
Another thing I quickly noticed is that machine dryers are apparently unheard of around here. Every porch or patio I saw had at least one clothesline full of clothes drying in the wind. Usually there were three lines hung diagonal from each other and at about waist height so they were mostly hidden by the railings. Apparently people don’t want to be able to look up from the street and see other people’s drying laundry. I also had the impression of how cheerful Japan appears to be. Every banner is a bright, cheery color and buildings are pastel shades. Where the States prefer bold, simple colors, the Japanese obviously prefer softer, cheerier colors and images. In fact, I’d forgotten how childish the Japanese animation was and was surprised to see that only about ten percent of the images on buildings were realistic looking. In America we like a cat to look like a cat to show the store is a pet store. In Japan they prefer a child’s happy rendition waving at everyone with soft lines, not realistic colors and lines. Makes me wonder if that’s how they prefer to view things, at least in public: soft and gentle, not looking at the real emotions or meanings as long as everyone seems happy. Interesting thought.
Anyways, sorry that I don’t have pictures yet. I plan to get pictures tomorrow when I finally go exploring the city. I’ve slept so much these past few days that I barely know my way around the place I’m living.
Well, as a funny little bunny often says: “That’s all, folks.” Stick around for more adventures and I’ll try not to disappoint.

This is Li'l B, and I'm signing out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

About me

For those of you who know me, this blog will come as no surprise. For those of you who don't know me, this is a basic explaination. I'm a 20-year-old midwestern girl about to embark on the adventure of my life. In three days I will leave the US of A for the first time in my life to spend 3 years overseas. I'll be spending a lot of time in and around Japan but I'm gonna be travelling all over Asia and the Pacific. One never knows where I'll end up. I thought this would be a good way to keep my family up to date with my travels. I'm also likely to use this site as a bragging tool. See, I also make jewellry, mostly seed beads and wire working, so I'm likely to be posting pictures and telling everyone about my latest baby/toy/creation. Oh yeah, and before I start I should really warn anyone who reads this something. There is a reason this blog is called "ramblings". I tend to ramble on and on, often way off track and occassionally am able to find the original track sometime later. what can I say? I'm a writer and my brain goes in many, many directions.