Hi everybody, I'm back in Japan for the next month, and I thought it would be nice to share some of my photos. Who knows how long I'll keep this up, but it's a start. Coming back after a nearly three-year absence has been surreal. I felt instantly comfortable here -- as if I'm returning to my hometown. I did live here for a year, after all. But a lot changed between then and my visit the following year, and even more has changed since then.
The street in front of Okazaki Station is completely different. It used to be fairly run down, and now there are several nice new buildings, including a hotel. The Yamada Denki, where I waited outside in the cold overnight in December to be the first in town to buy a Wii, has moved across the street to a much bigger building. The restaurant where I attempted my first awkward Japanese romance is gone, torn down and replaced with a different restaurant. My favorite CD-rental shop is now a second-hand goods store -- still under the same name, but not a thing inside is the same. The biggest mall in the area expanded by almost half again its size. There are even more little things that don't really have any personal significance, but I can just tell walking past that something is different. And even though some of these changes are clearly for the better, they're still changes, and I don't like changes.
Despite that, I had a really fun time wandering around today, in full tourist mode with my camera, even if I didn't really accomplish any of the errands I intended to get done. And Taeko-san and Nao-san haven't changed a bit, so I feel right at home. She's keeping me supplied with a stream of yummy, and mostly healthy, Japanese food. With breakfast, I had a piece of ham that was better than any I've tasted in Iowa. I already stopped in my favorite used book store, a Book-Off that was within lunch-break biking distance of my school, and had a couple of nice finds.
Taeko-san's hibiscus plant. It bloomed yesterday, the day I arrived. Since the bloom only lasts one day (and usually in the summer), she said it bloomed just for me.
The view from the balcony outside my bedroom. Okazaki City, Harizaki-cho.
Why thank you, they are.
Was that a big enough joystick or what?? (My parents should get this reference...)
And you thought duck-face was bad enough.
Say what you will about Japan, but at least they're open about the living conditions of the people who make their clothes.
Look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes.
Found in a children's park off a side street in Okazaki City, Hane-cho, Azu-ooike. I think this drinking fountain presents a fairly easy choice.
A sign in Hane-cho, Azu-ooike. The Japanese reads: "Please refrain from stealing a backhoe and going on a rampage against constipated telephone sets." Apparently, it was a really big problem in the late '90s.
The WinG toWn shopping center, Hane-cho, Azu-azukizaka. It's located only a couple blocks away from my Yamasa apartment, although it hadn't been built yet when I was going to school here. There's a nice bookstore and movie theater, among other stores and restaurants, inside. (Back then, the closest theater was a twenty-minute car ride away, and not accessible by train.)
Boob pillows. Found in BULLDOG, a store in WinG toWn that I can best describe as a cross between Claire's and Spencer's, only with boob pillows.
I hate for this photo to have to follow the last one, but I'm keeping them in the order I took them. Here is Taeko-san presenting me with thoughtfully re-gifted flowers.
This is Taeko-san's son, Nao-san. He's making sure the vegetables (to be eaten with miso or soy sauce) are evenly cooked. They were delicious.