Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wind Chill Factor

Cold...so cold...

Muroran (which I never bothered to translate before, so here goes: room orchid) got hit with a wicked storm system last night, and it continued on through today. From the looks of things, tomorrow will bring more of the same.

Coastal winds up here are nothing to laugh at. A good strong gust will shake my apartment. Or my car. However, a possible cause of this is cheap materials going into the building of said apartment and car. I do not know.

I DO know that the wind was very strong today.

Last night, I got a foot and back massage at a local massage parlor, which just happened to be owned and operated by the parents of one of my students at Starfish High. Eisaku, who has been having a pretty rough time due to recent events that I vaguely referred to in earlier posts, and I talked about grabbing some dinner after work, and he suggested that we check out this massage parlor, then get some dinner.

Aaaaaah, a foot massage. Eastern medicine believes that pressure points on the soles of your feet can help you identify health problems in other areas of your body. They have a cool chart and everything. So if the masseuse presses on a certain spot and it HURTS, you have a problem there. Not your foot, but in the place the pressure point represents. I had a slight twinge when the masseuse rubbed the "lower back" pressure point. My muscles have been a bit tight back there, so that was the deciding factor in going for the back massage as well. That, and Eisaku was going for a neck rub. So I could either wait around for twenty minutes, or get a twenty-minute back massage. Which would you choose?

Since the foot massage was free (Starfish High got some free passes from the student's dad), the total cost was only cost ten bucks (the equivalent in yen, of course). After that, we went to local watering hole and had dinner. Meat. Fried on a grill. Yum. Japan may have some nasty foods on the menu, but the stuff we had yesterday was gooooooooooooooooooood. The guy that ran the bar we went to is the guy who helped me negotiate the price of the crabs that I sent off to the girl I like back in Shimane. So I thanked him profusely, as she was very happy with the crabs I gave her.

Trust me folks, this joke will never die. People won't let it.

On the way back home, the storm was kicking into gear. Nasty, nasty stuff. Snow blowing in sideways. Strong, strong winds. And cold.

But after I got back to my warm apartment, I had nothing to complain about. So off to bed...

...and up this morning. Conditions were about the same. The sky looked like it might clear up a bit. But it didn't. Cold, strong wind all day. I actually went back to bed for a bit. I woke up later, but nothing had changed.

For reasons that I may or may not explain later, I had to go to Showa Shinzan today. That was why I was hoping the weather would clear up. It's bad enough driving on dry roads in Hokkaido, but getting on roads with packed snow and ice with all the damn psychos that are out on the road here? That takes a special kind of stupidity.

Tailgating.

Swerving.

Speeding.

Generally being asses.

That pretty much sums up Hokkaido drivers. Neither snow, nor rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor icy roads, nor fog, nor mist will keep these maniac drivers from driving like maniacs.

But I braved the road and the drivers on it to get out to Showa Shinzan. You can tell it's an active volcano. The steam coming out of about three different places helps, but when snow is covering the ground but the mountain is bare, that's a pretty good hint that geothermal action is going on.

I went to the glass museum they have there. There were some cool necklaces on sale, and I wanted to pick one up. The glass they use in the necklace I bought actually looks like a precious stone, but it's glass. It changes color depending on the light that it picks up. Very cool stuff. So I bought that, plus some gag gifts for some friends back in Shimane, and then headed into Date City.

My English-teaching compatriot Jack told me about a cool ramen shop in Date called "Donkey". Since his advice to visit Ittetsu turned out to be right on the money, I decided to check out this place too. Again, Jack proved that his advice is worthy. Good ramen. EXCELLENT pot stickers. Yum.

The drive back home was more of the same: psycho drivers and bad weather. I made it back safely and have spent a nice quiet evening at home.

Tomorrow, I must bring holiday cheer to young'uns. So it's time to get some sleep.

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