Transition: Graduation and preparation.

Our graduation from Kinki Daigaku.

Friday was the end of our time at Kindai. First was our culture exam, administered by Professor Joyce (who basically got the short end of the stick with only two classes). It was essay-based, and required us to talk about or compare aspects of Japanese culture. It wasn’t difficult, but I made sure to use the time and fill up the massive test paper they gave us (both sides). Last was language, which was very easy for me.

Once finished, we moved on to graduation. Yes, I know we’d just finished the exams, but they’re basically a formality. There were certificates and photos, and then it was over and time for lunch.

I experienced a bit of unpleasantness in between, and I’d considered describing it here, but an extra couple days has made me reconsider. It’s simply not worth the time to do more than mention.

Mike and I found our conversation partners (minus Narito) waiting for us, and with Heaven in tow, we made our way down the street outside of Kindai’s west gate (which is full of restaurants). Before anything, the girls wanted to hit the arcade for プリクラ, which was a challenge, since we were seven.

After the girls tweaked our photos and printed them out, we picked a restaurant that had a small picnic-seating area next to it. The chatter was pleasant, mostly regarding America, WVU, and plans to hang out again once they arrived in the fall. When we finished, we said goodbye to our Japanese friends, probably for the last time until August, and came back to the hotel. I had plans that afternoon to finally meet my longtime internet friend Alyson, who moved to Osaka about seven years prior and has been living here ever since, working in comedy, TV, and English-speaking jobs. I hopped a train to Namba.

They apparently used this area as inspiration for the movie “Blade Runner.”

Meeting Alyson after all this time was pretty amazing, and I found it easy to talk to her. She had agreed to help me find an inexpensive suitcase to lug all of my nerd crap home — had I known we had been allowed an extra check and carry-on bag, I would have brought them before — so we went to Doutonbori to a place she called “Donkey” (Don Quixote, though I never did see the name). I found a cheap little roller suitcase for about $20 equivalent, after which we looked at all the risqué stuff the multi-floor place carried. Reminded me a lot of Spencer Gifts, only with real porn as well as ribald gag gifts.

My Japanese reading skill is still slow, so I tended to stick with English lyrics.

Doutonbori was pretty impressive by night, though it had begun raining since before I left. We knocked around for a while, looking for a maid café she knew, and while we didn’t find it, we caught up and she showed me some lesser-known Osaka sights. I also managed to find the second Tenshi no Shippo drama CD at a place in アメリカ村 called まんだらけ. We finally gave up on the café and went to a karaoke box instead. I tried my hand at a couple Japanese songs I thought I knew better and was quickly shown I did not (my quick-kana reading needs some serious work), but managed to belt out Shikao Suga’s “夕立,” Smash Mouth’s “Walking on the Sun,” and STP’s “Plush.” She, meanwhile, impressed me with her diversity, singing some Japanese Boy Band stuff, a little 90s hair metal, a Sailor Moon ballad, Hanyuu’s character song (from Higurashi), a Team Rocket song from Pokémon (which was three parts!), and a hilarious song called “Masturbating Smile.” I ended with The Beatles’ “Her Majesty,” and she hit one more tune to finish up.

Because I’d forgotten to bring her the Mick Foley book I’d been hanging onto forever, she came back to the hotel with me and talked with Mike, Rosemarry, and me about Japan and stuff before going home. (As it turns out, she’d since bought the book, but I gave her the one I had, anyway.) I walked her to the station, of course, because I’m a gentleman.

I spent the rest of the evening packing, because we had to store our luggage and vacate our rooms for a weekend trip to Hiroshima.

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