I feel like I’ve been eating and drinking nonstop this week. For free. I wrote this post on Monday, but only just posted it.

Monday: I was invited out to sushi and beer by Uchida sensei, the steel-work teacher. Uchida sensei took me, Mugi, Nishi sensei, Kamada-san (the shop tech), Yoshino-sensei (my teacher, the wood-work), and another teacher whose name I forgot to a place called Sushi-tetsu (I find this humorous because “tetsu” means “steel”). They ordered everything I liked–eel, octopus, UNAGI SO MUCH UNAGI!, avacado, the DAMN BEST CALIFORNIA ROLLS I HAVE EVER EATEN, maguro and toro, kappazushi, mackerel, things I don’t even know. They ordered me beer and sake. I told them I don’t like ama-ebi. They said that’s because I never had a good one, and ordered up. I tried it, and I actually loved it. Then I said in passing I’ve been wanting to try fugu (blowfish). They wanted to know the names of the fish in English, so they asked for an English menu. They had a ball over the names of the fish. “Blowfish?” I mimed blowing into a balloon to explain why. “Aa~~ naruhodo!” Yeah, they ordered that too. After that, we were walking over to a gallery, but we all got distracted by a bar that was also a small exotic fish aquarium with little sharks pacing back in forth in their tank in the front window. We all decided to go inside, and ended up getting drinks. More free drinks for me. Uchida-sensei ordered on my behalf, grapefruit juice and vodka (I’ll have to remember that one). After that, everyone went separate ways. Yoshinosensei and I took the train back to school. I asked him about the music he likes. I know he likes music because he has about a dozen guitars in his office, one of them he made himself, and also a ukulele he made himself.

Anyways, Sunday: I biked to Kamigamo jinja to scout out where I want to put my sculpture (no photo yet) for the student show that will be held at the shrine in July. On the way there, I thought, hey, maybe that place Radio Bagel is open–it was! I got a whole wheat bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese, and ate it at kamigamo jinja and man, what a surreal and wonderful feeling that was. I bought two more for breakfast. Anyways, after that, I decided it would be nice to go to Daitoku-ji, a place never heard about. It was so lovely, I know exactly where to take Jim and Susan when they come to Kyoto! The thing is, Daitoku-ji consists of half-a-dozen or so different complexes, lots of famous rock gardens (karesansui), including “the smallest stone garden in Japan,” and “the stone garden which represents the truth of the universe” among others.

After that, I went to a group birthday party (a birthday party for any one whose birthday is in May or June) held by kids from school. It was on the river, everyone drinking beer and eating salty things and ice cream, playing music (both a dj and live performances), and bathing our feet in the river. WHannah, Alice, Neal, and I biked home, but I was slow and went to the cemetery that I went with to on my Tajh to watch the sun set on my first day at Seika, but this time to watch the new moon (a great, sharp crescent with a pinhole of light (perhaps venus?) between its horns). After that, I went with Hannah, Alice and Neal to get ice cream. We ate ice cream and watched the moon get so big and heavy that it fell into the forest behind our dorm.

On Saturday, I met Asakura-san at Takashimaya. It was my first time, and it is crazy beautiful and super classy and expensive looking. My gluttonous, materialistic side wants every thing inside that place. She took me to lunch to eat at any of the restaurants at the top of the store and I chose a restaurant that specializes in soba (But I wish I had chosen a different one…there was a crazy good looking Italian place up there). She was so kind to treat me to lunch. After meeting her, I went to Shimogamo jinja to follow the Aoi Matsuri procession over to Kamigamo jinja. According to Wikipedia, the procession consists of “two oxcarts, four cows, thirty-six horses, and six hundred people (Frang, 2002). All of which are dressed in traditional Heian period costumes decorated with aoi (hollyhock) leaves.” The horses, oxes, and people, all in ancient attire marching against traffic, through intersections, across bridges, along the canal, all silently, slowly. It isn’t anything like the other festival I went to; actually, the entirely the opposite. It’s composed, dignified, calm. I wish could have taken pictures, but I didn’t even think to bring my camera.
Then I hung around Kamigamo jinja for a few hours trying to see the ancient rituals being carried out . I couldn’t really see anything (it’s all done behind beyond a gate leading to the main shrine, and you have to pay money just to get a better look at it). I saw a bus drive by loaded up with women who took part in the procession (still dressed in robes and makeup).

I decided it would be nice to walk back to the dorms. About 3/4 the way there, I got lost in a neighborhood. It was getting dark. I saw a woman start her car in front of a temple. “Excuse me!” I called. “It seems I’m lost” I said. “Oh, please get in” she said. I got into the car. My third car ride with a stranger in Japan. The woman is the wife of the head priest of the temple (I have to go back and find out what temple it is. she said I should come visit!). Her son graduated from Bukkyo University and now goes to UCLA for his doctorate in…I believe Buddhist Cultural studies. As I got out of the car, she asked my name. “Hannah” I said. “Hana”…she writes its kanji out with her finger into her palm. “I’m Kishida Youko. Please stop by soon!”

Friday: Drinking party in Kino-ryo (the dorm). Free drinks, free snacks.

Thursday: Got home from school, saw a bunch of people outside. Tajh, Laura, Jee-ye and I went to a bar whose name I’ve forgotten. We all shared a nabe, a stew pot, and ordered a few beers. We were curious about a bottle three men sitting across from us were sharing. We asked. “Shouchuu” they merrily replied. It’s Japanese sweet potato liquor. “Have some!” They ordered special shouchuu drinking glasses for each of us. The youngest man (I think he is the son of one of the other men) is attending Bukkyo University and had taken a year off to travel around Japan on his motorcycle (he camped out the whole time). He had come back from Shikoku and even brought his photo album to the bar! We all talked and laughed, and they gave us more shouchuu. We all exchanged numbers so that we can all be drinking buddies again some time.

Now the passage of time is soft and twisted, like a pretzel.

Maybe on Tuesday the sculpture department held what the teachers themselves could only describe to me as “crazy party.”
Well, it’s more like a frat initiation party, where all the first year students have to go up on a stage and do an embarrassing, amusing performance, one at a time. The upperclassmen decide whether to pass or fail the freshman. Performances I saw were pitiable, sometimes border-line terrifying or just plain disgusting. One girl began shaving off her long hair. All the girls began screaming, “LET HER PASS!!” and she stopped 1/4 the way through. One boy ate half a tube of wasabi paste. I saw some come out of his nose. That was just gross. If the performance passes, then the freshman can step down and join the audience. If it’s fail, then may god save your soul. The freshman has to do “batsu-game” which can be anything from having mayonnaise poured over your head, to having everyone in the audience throw raw eggs at you, to, in the worst case I saw, somebody pour candle wax (just a tiny rousoku one, but still!) on your bare back. Everyone is dressed up in crazy outfits, hitting each other with oversized paper fans, throwing eggs left and right, tons of beer and snacks, condiments meant to be squirted or poured on contestants were sprayed and splattered everywhere, so much so that people were sliding around on the floor. Yoshino-sensei looked at me and said “Japanese people aren’t really like this”. People kept telling me that. This is a school ritual, at least for sculpture students.It happens every year, who knows how long it’s been going on for.
After the “crazy party” I was taken to a bar (the same bar I went to on Thursday) and was told I could order any thing I want–food, beer, dessert–and it’s all free. I ate so much I thought I would die and I kept on eating–mushroom soup, sashimi, something described to me as “chicken special parts”, udon, beer, beer, beer, fried eggplant, who knows. It was amazing. Everyone was so fun. I learned that this is called Bureiko (無礼講). My electronic dictionary says it means “free and easy (party)” or “putting aside ranks.” It’s a time when everyone becomes equal, everything will be forgiving because we’re all drunk, so we’re all on the same level. One friend told me it’s very important that Japanese have these parties, because it dissolves boundaries and tensions between male and female, student and teacher, upperclassman (senpai) and lower classman (kouhai).

Here’s my current WIP. Cloud box.

Cloud boxSaw this guy in the studio today

lizard

Advertisements