New friends and cheap cuisine.

This last week brought us a handful of new students, many of whom are living in this dorm. A few are taking the accelerated class (which hasn’t had any students since I’ve been here, much like Javad and the culture program), and a couple are in SILAC. This is also the period between AIJP terms, so a few students have gone home for the break, and a few more are done entirely with SILAC and will be gone soon. Additionally, a few people went away for the weekend for various reasons, so it’s been quiet here and the social dynamic has changed somewhat. We dropped three people from our SILAC class, but one student who’d taken a couple weeks off came back, making us three.

I spent Friday relaxing until the evening, when a few of the newer students and I took a walk down toward McDonald’s and talked. Saturday was lunch with Eugenio, Nick (who leaves next week), and Marco (new accelerated guy) at Yoshinoya, after which I won a few things at SEGA World (game center), checked out both Book-Off stores (nothing I wanted), and came back for a second shower. The rest of the evening was pretty quiet as well; I talked a little with Talu (the Turkish guy) and called a friend back home via Skype.

Takeshima, home to Yaotomi Shrine.

There’s just something about shrines.

The bridge at low tide.

Today was different. My friend Arnaud had asked if I wanted to go to Gamagouri, one rapid-express train stop away, to look at the ocean and get some photos. A short walk down a highway and we were nearby the Takeshima Aquarium, which lay before a beach (at low tide) and the bridge connecting the mainland to the island of Takeshima, which featured Yaotomi Shrine. Arnaud and I crossed the bridge, snapping photos the whole way (though he had a much better camera), and took a short-but-roundabout walk around the shrine and island (which are nearly one and the same). I prayed at a couple of the altars and bought an ema (of course), in keeping with my tradition. Eventually, we left the shrine proper and took a narrow, winding path around the island, with the ocean (technically Mikawa Bay) at our left. We spotted a few tourists from China (or some related territory, based on their language) enjoying the low tide and lounging on the wind-and-sea-worn rocks. A couple girls were doing the usual touristy thing of snapping photos on the rocks, and the girl with the camera took a candid shot of Arnaud and me. As we left, the non-camera girl started making her way across the rocks, and I called out (using one of the only Chinese phrases I know): 小心! (Be careful!) She immediately called back: 谢谢!(Thank you!)

Arnaud also wanted to go see the big statue of Kouboudaishi (who, as it turns out, was a Japanese monk who founded an important sect of Japanese Buddhism), but it was pretty far away, and there weren’t any buses that went to it. He said it was fine; he could go back another day. We stopped in a nearby mall (which was mostly a grocery store and clothing store combo, one floor each), talked briefly to a group of Japanese junior-high or high school girls who called out to us in English, and then caught the train back to Okazaki. I finished the day with a trip to WinG toWn, since I needed to replace my royal milk tea and cola. Dinner was spicy ramen with scrambled egg at a widespread place called Sugakiya (both cheap and delicious), after which I bought my beverages at Valor and came home for a second shower (two days in a row).

I’ve got a little homework for tomorrow, and three private lessons this week, since one had originally been scheduled for the day I leave. I’m technically only about two-thirds of the way finished, but it seems much later.

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