Wednesday, May 15, 2002

I'm in the Asakusa neighborhood of Tokyo at one of those pay-to-enter manga libraries. It's on the 7th floor of a pretty drab building, but Clark noticed the sign for it when we were scouting around for a shabu-shabu restaurant last night. Like most manga libraries, this place has unfettered internet access because this is Japan and no one cares if you look at porn. But for me it's nice since I haven't been able to sit down and enjoy the internet for some time. I'd even forgotten about the Onion. I'm disappointed that I'll be leaving Japan soon. Now that class is out I'm really starting to love this country. For the past couple of days I've been riding around the central mountain region of Japan in a little bus full of old women traveling from one back-water town to another. Just a few months ago I'd imagined all of Japan to be like Tokyo: a mess of concrete and people, no room for trees or sky. But if you take a train for just a few hours you'll end up amongst the mountains and the rice paddies. I'd never imagined that the Japan Alps would look a lot like Montana, only there are many more people who stare at you.

I feel even more like an escaped monkey from the zoo when we take trips out to rural Japan. Clark especially seems to attract a lot of attention, probably because he's tall, blonde and non-threatening. It seems like everyone wants to talk to us, mostly old men and high school kids, but also lots of people who forgot to take their medication that day. When we got off on the train station at Okaya we met an old man who genuinely shocked that we could speak Japanese (most Japanese people don’t seem to know that Japanese is much, much easier than English, reading, however, is a different story). We were also followed by a group of giggling school girls who wanted to make sure that we weren't lost. I think they just wanted to talk to foreigners because according to Japanese popular culture we are cool and/or clueless.

posted by Alison 5/15/2002 10:32:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

I'm on vacation and I've probably been on vacation for the past month and a half from this web page. Rather than spend all of my time waiting for and sitting in front of a computer, I've been using this time to travel. Things will probably get back to normal when I get back to the states. I've won an AI research fellowship to the University of Kansas, so I probably won't be back in DC until August. I'm in Nagano prefecture right now, so I going to go outside and enjoy the mountains.

posted by Alison 5/14/2002 08:39:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

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