Christmas Eve #2, solo

Right now, it's about two hours away from my first Christmas in Tokyo and my second away from the family.

Not that it's that much of a big deal--thanks to the Internet and greeting cards from family and friends--I'm actually very content with respect to the holiday festivities. Ohta-sensei and his wife Masako, two of my students, asked me to come to their house on Christmas night, since I'll be teaching them there anyway. Their two kids, Kazuki and Miho, are the cutest things ever.

Today, for my Christmas Eve, I rolled out of bed around 11 A.M. or so and then messed around on the computer chatting to buddies while calling the travel agencies. This week, after we came back from our friend Maho (she's from Hiroshima, studied for a year in Indiana, wonderfully astute, outgoing and makes some damn good Hiroshima okonomiyaki), Apple showed me this website that had deals for cheap airline tickets. I forgot that yesterday was the Emperor's birthday (Meiji Emperor), and therefore the agencies were all closed. This time, they were open, and so far, there's only one other competing agency for HIS, the one that I currently have an invoice for.

We're going to Shinjuku and Shinagawa Wednesday or Thursday--the former to pay for the tickets if that price is for two weeks in Taipei and the latter to get re-entry permits. Apple should probably be getting her visa to Taiwan soon (since I'm a U.S. citizen, I don't need one since I'll be going for only two weeks), and then that'll be the end of the travel plans on our end. Well, there are the train tickets to Narita to worry about...and then the papers. Looks like I'll be starting on at least two of those over the break--8-9 pages each. Ow.

Then George's package arrived, and it's far bigger than I expected--folks, this thing is up to my knees, and I thought there'd be something only half its size waiting for me. I may have to take pictures before I tear into it (very gently, as I want the box for shipping) to get the Milanos, Twizzlers and U2 CD that's inside.

George, I'll tell you again, you're one of the bestest people ever.

There was some cleaning done while prepping for dinner; mainly putting a box and a bag of coat hangers in the closet, so now there's more space to move around in. It's a custom called お掃除: basically, it's a top-to-bottom cleaning of your room/apartment/house in preparation for the new year. I cleaned the bathroom too; it was getting a bit gross, but it's better now.

I was going to go withdraw money, but the ATMs should still be functioning during Christmas here in Japan, since unlike in the US, Japanese people all go out to eat on that day. I might go look around in Shimokitazawa and get some magatama necklaces I've been drooling over at the Stone Market, and maybe something for Apple; her birthday's on the 27th.

Kinda funny though; after this vacation, it's only two more weeks and we're off again for spring vacation, which is about a month and a half long. Feng Lan and I are planning to go travel Japan in March, and Kyoto's one of the spots we're hitting big time. I just asked Nils Ferry of Alive in Kyoto when and where we could see geisha, and I wound up with a suggestion to see Peter MacIntosh's geisha tours (found here). It looks like a terrific deal; 3000 yen for the evening tour or 4000 yen for the morning one. I'm for the 3000 yen one, but I need to see if Feng Lan is up for it; she's in Korea until the 8th, but hopefully she'll think it's cool too.

In other news, my hair is finally looking the way it was supposed to in August; for those of you who don't know, I went to a beauty school in Ann Arbor asking for layers and got a blunt cut instead. This was bad, given that it took another three years off how old I apparently looked, and because it poofed out like crazy in the mornings. I got it "fixed" two days before I went to Japan for free, but it was really wispy and couldn't hold a ponytail. It can hold a ponytail now, and it finally looks good. Yay!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone.


Another angle of the multiple torii.

Final shot before going off to eat.

Another shot.

Big-ass temple in the middle of Chinatown, authentic as hell.

A closer shot of the gate. It's like being back in Taiwan for a while.

Entrance of Chukagai, Yokohama.

carving of Benten inside the cave.

Another Hasedera one.

A statue of Benten before we went into the cave with the wall carvings.

Another view of the seaside.

Just before leaving Hasedera.

Another one. It was too amazing to take just one picture.

View of the seaside from the top of Hasedera.

The Buddha outside Hasedera.

Temple bell, Hasedera.

Votive candles for the temple.

Hasedera Kannon.

Another Jizo altar.

Jizo, protector of children.

Inside the temple complex.

Just before going in.

Incense burner.

Statues before Hasedera Kannon.

Last picture before Boccellari-sensei dragged us to Hasedera before closing time.

Paul, Sarath and Mark all together.

Sam, 3/4 view, good lighting. He seemed a bit confused when I was explaining things, but let me take the picture.

Better one in the shadow.

This is me in the sunlight; didn't have time to straighten out my hair.

Michelle and Esteban looking at the pictures he took.

Michelle before the Daibutsu.

Paul taking a picture. Meta-photography.

Pillar of stuff I can't really read thanks to the stylized calligraphy.

Detail on a lantern, Daibutsu.

More of a 3/4 view.

Laotian guy looking hot in the lighting.

Daibutsu, side view.

Detain on the censer lids...

The incense censer in front of the Daibutsu.

Daibutsu itself. Pretty rare--there may only be two others in Japan.

Lotus flanking the Daibutsu.

One of the lanterns at the Daibutsu.

The foliage in December. Mmm.

The sign you see before going in.

Entrance to Daibutsu.

Bamboo on the way to the Daibutsu.

Candle for the Buddhist temple.

Yet another small shrine. God, I love this place.

Waterfall in the shrine complex.

Shrine lantern in the complex.

Something carved onto the pillars.