Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Shimanesque 5: To See The Sights

"So when do you leave?"

"April 17th."

"Are you ready to head off, or are you a little nervous?"

"I'm really excited to be heading out. I can't wait!"

"What part of New York will you be in?"

"It's a little college town out in the countryside. I think it's a couple of hours away from New York City."

"Cool. This is really exciting, and it reminds me of how I felt before I came over here to study. I know this probably sounds horribly conceited of me, but there's part of me that wants to think that the reason you chose to go study in a university in the States is because I was your teacher while you were in junior high school."

"It's fine to think that, because it's true."

On Friday (3/24), I met up with Kasumi. She was a student of mine at Hakuta Junior High School, and even after she graduated from HJHS and went off to Matsue, we kept in touch and hung out every once in a while. She has a real knack for English, and she likes it, plus she loves movies, so we got along really well right from when I started out at HJHS.

We saw "King Kong" back in December, and we both figured that that would be the last time we would be able to meet up before she took off for the States.

Well, it turned out that I was going to be in Shimane this week, so I e-mailed her and explained the situation, and told her that I'd buy her lunch so come and meet up with me in Matsue. She agreed, and we worked out a time to meet up.

So, up and out of bed after not a whole lot of sleep, and after cleaning up and checking out of the hotel I was staying at and making a quick trip up to the Izumo BOE to say goodbye to Mihara-san and the rest of the gang, I headed over to Izumo Station to catch a train to Matsue.

I almost...no, come to think of it, I actually fell asleep on the train, but luckily I woke up before I reached Matsue. Yeesh.

Kasumi met me at the station and we headed out of the south exit to find someplace to eat. Problem. I had no idea where we should go. Then Kasumi suggested soba. Nice thinking! I said I knew just the place. So we walked over to Goto Soba, a soba shop near the Isodas and Obamas. It's a small shop, but the soba is really tasty. We went in and ordered a couple of bowls and talked for a while. After finishing up our lunch, I paid, and we walked down to the Ohashi River, and then headed across, without any real location in mind. Then I suggested we walk over to the castle for some dango. More on this in a minute.

On our way there, I wanted to swing by the Prefectural Capitol Building to say hello to a friend of mine who works there, Mika. I first met her when she was an exchange student at CWU, and I figured she might be able to give Kasumi some good advice about living in the States, especially advice from the female perspective. Kasumi was really funny, because she was really nervous about going in to the office building. "We can just walk right in? Are you sure that's okay?"

"Hey, you pay their salaries."


Since I hadn't contacted Mika ahead of time, we had to wait a bit while she finished up a meeting. While we were waiting, I took this photo out of the Cultural International Department office window.

There are boats that sail around the Matsue Castle moat. It's a bit of a tourist trap, but it is a fun ride. You have to duck down as the boat passes under certain bridges, as the boat roof is lowered to allow the boat to pass under. You have to flatten yourself out pretty well a couple of times. Another cool thing about the boats is during the winter months, they have a kotatsu in the boat that helps you stay warm. Fun stuff.

Anyway, we were able to talk with Mika for a bit, and Kasumi was able to exchange e-mail addresses with her, so I think I managed to do a little good there. I talked with a few other staff members, and then Kasumi and I headed off to eat some dango.

There's a little store on the west side of the Matsue Castle grounds called "Herun no Komichi". It's a reference to Lafcadio Hearn, a foreigner who lived in Matsue over a hundred years ago and is famous for introducing Japanese culture to the west. At least, that's what they tell you in Matsue. I'd never heard of the guy before I came there.

Anyway, this place has great dango, and I've always liked how they cook up the dango outside.

Isn't that cool?

After eating some tasty snacks and catching a bus back to Matsue Station, I said goodbye to Kasumi and wished her well in New York. Then I swung by Sakai Sensei's house, met his new wife and his sister-in-law, and joined them for supper before I headed back to the teachers' party in Izumo.

We had soba. My fourth bowl since coming back! It's good stuff.

I kicked off my last full day in Shimane by going out to Izumo Taisha.

I got a ride out there from Takashi, and then I wandered around for a while, just looking at the shrine and enjoying the scenery. Izumo Taisha is such a calm place, even when there's lots of people there.

You just have to know where to go.

This picture requires a little explanation.

At most shrines in Japan, the main hall is set up so that the inner sanctum, and therefore the enshrined kami, is facing the people who are praying. Izumo Taisha is a little different. The interior of the main hall is designed so that the kami is facing left, away from the people who are praying.

So in essence, when you pray at Izumo Taisha from the front, you aren't praying to the kami there. This led to the folks at Izumo Taisha building a small shrine on the left side of the main hall so that people could pray directly to the kami of Izumo Taisha. So that's what that little set-up is in front of the big shrine.

So after walking around the shrine for a bit, I made a couple of phone calls to friends in the area, and ended up meeting up with my friend Miwako. Miwako and I have been friends since the spring of 1999, when she entered Shimane University and joined the International Student Friends club. She can be a bit of an airhead at times, but that's what makes her so fun to be around.

Anyhow, she was back in town, so we ended up hanging out for most of the day, swinging over to a soba shop for lunch (bowl number five!) and then walking around town, eventually ending up at Inasa Beach. The tide was out, so I asked her to snap a picture of me looking ponderous in front of Benten Island.

We then walked back to her house where we relaxed and watched some TV while I waited for Jara to come and pick me up. Miwako also cooked up some food for her family for supper, and I got to snack on a little of it before I left.


On a side note, Miwako's dad is AWESOME! Just thought I should add that. Jason, you know who he is. He used to be a vice-principal at one of your schools, and then he transferred to Imaichi Elementary in April of last year.

Ganbare, kyoto-sensei!


Blogger Jason H. said...

what is their last name?


Thursday, April 06, 2006 5:07:00 PM  
Blogger Havok said...


Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:08:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home