Friday, June 23, 2006

Off To Nagoya!

I'm in Nagoya this weekend.

Shimane last weekend, Nagoya this one...my miles are starting to add up.

Originally, I was going to spend this weekend down in Mie Prefecture taking part in a formal shrine visit to The Grand Shrine of Ise. A friend of mine in Tokushima was planning on starting up a group dedicated to making pilgrimages to shrines around the country that enshrine deities that protect certain parts of the body. Visit all of them and you're protecting your entire body. It's a pretty cool concept that has involved a lot of research on his part to find these shrines.

I bought my tickets early in order to get a decent discount on them, and was pretty excited for the trip.

Then, a few weeks ago, I got a call from his wife.

"My husband's had a stroke and is recovering. He's slowly getting better, but he's in no shape to conduct that meeting in Ise. We're going to reschedule it for some other time."

Wow. A stroke. Poor guy. But at least he's doing okay.

So I figured I would return my tickets for a full refund.

That's what I figured. What actually happened was that my travel agent told me I could only get about half of the money I paid for the tickets back, because I'd bought them with the early bird discount.

Huh?

So I said the heck with it and made plans to visit my friends and some Starfish High graduates in the Nagoya area over the weekend. A good chance to get out of Hokkaido and to catch up with some folks I hadn't seen for a while.

So I called up my good buddy Nabe and made plans to stay at his place over the weekend. He and his wife Fusako were going to be busy on Saturday, so I e-mailed the three SH grads and made plans to meet up with them as well.

Everything was set, and today I took off from work and caught that plane to Nagoya.

They parked the dang plane at the very far end of the airport, so I had to march it on over to the train station double-quick to catch a train to Nagoya Station, where Nabe and Fusako picked me up. We cruised back to their place and had some drinks and sat around and talked until the wee hours of the morning.

We had a couple of reasons to celebrate.

  1. Nabe, Fusako and I have been friends for ten years now. They came to Central on the Asia University America Program back in April of 1996. Nabe lived in the same dorm as I did, and we quickly became friends. Although he won't admit it, I figure I kind of freaked him out at first. This weird 18-year-old kid comes into his room one day and hands him a CD of the Hideo Nomo song (a reworking of "The Banana Boat Song" - Hi-DAY-o, Hi-Day-ay-ay-o) because he has a Hideo Nomo poster up in the room. A tad freaky. But we became fast friends and have kept in touch ever since. He's the one that suggested I study Japanese. He's visited me in the States a couple of times, and he was one of the few Tokyo friends of mine who bothered to come out to Shimane to visit me. He had me make a speech at his and Fusako's wedding last year. He's an awesome guy and I'm proud to say he's my friend.
  2. Nabe and Fusako are going to be PARENTS at the end of the year. (Fusako stayed away from the booze for this reason.) Congratulations, you guys.
It was really good to see those guys again.

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