Jun 26, 2008

Hurry!! The tide is coming!

This time I am going to tell you about a day trip I had with my class. Obviously all the explanations were in Japanese, so I didn’t understand everything, but I will do my best.

The trip took place in Awase's tide land. What is tide land you must ask yourself… well; this is the land that reveals itself when the tide is low. Apparently it can be a huge mass of land, not just a few meters. In Awase, it was a hundred and something Hectares (I think). Sadly, I have no idea how big a Hectare is, so it doesn't really help me. But I can tell you this – there was a lot of land there.

So what is so special about this Awase Tide Land? One – it has lots of species that are unique for this place – crabs, shellfish, seaweed, etc. Also, they are filling it up with land, so it will be suitable for construction. You can see the conflict – environmentalists on one hand and constructors on the other. One of the stupid things with this conflict is that they have no actual plan of what to do with this land once it is filled up…

Anyway, we went there to see what the fuss is all about. It was real nice (although a bit exhausting). We saw starfish, crabs, shellfish and all kinds of other stuff.

At one point the instructor told us to look for shellfish and collect them. I wondered why we are doing this, and asked one of the guys.

Guess what the answer was?

To eat them!!!!

When we came back to the assembly point, the instructor showed us how to open the shellfish, cut them open, clean the blood… and eat them, as they are.

Then he offered each one a bite. When I was offered I was in a big dilemma. In the end I decided that I am here to experience new things and ate it. Obviously, everybody was laughing because of the face I made.

The taste was OK, but the texture was slimy, and the concept of eating something just like this was quite hard for me…

Now, for what really interests you – the pictures…

This is a leg. (I am sure I had a reason to take that picture...)

This is a cool crab. It was kinda aggressive...

And this is a starfish.

Looks small, doesn't it? Well it is quite big actually:

Jun 21, 2008

A new post, a new day

Before anything else – explanation. In the last post I dared you to guess what was in a certain picture. Now it is time to explain it. As I said before it has something to do with my Birthday.
At that day, Iris surprised me after Lunch with muffins, candles, greetings (part of them from Israel – thanks again Yael & Offer – You are awesome), and a present from my parents (a new watch – I really like it! you can see it in one of the pics in the last post). It was very exciting. So as I said, it was after lunch, so we wanted to eat the muffins. I blew off the candles, and we took a bite. Than we looked at each other with a funny look… I said to Iris – "we ate the paper, didn't we??" we didn’t think about it, but there was some paper at the bottom. This is the picture – the papers with the bites on it… I hope it is at least a bit funny when reading it… it was very funny at the time.

One more thing about the day at the museum - I don't know why we didn't take a picture of it, but there was an amusing thong on the outside - Dog's toilet... It was about 1.5m*1.5m of a small concrete wall, and inside a small sand box... a place for the dog poop, and for the owner to be with him.

Now, back to the post…

A day after the museum, we decided to go to Kokusai Street – the main street in Naha, where all the tourists' shops and the market are.
I have already mentioned the street, but that day was a bit special… I don't know why. The road was closed for vehicles, and there where some street shows – Magic, Juggling, and as you can see, Traditional Ryukyu Dancing.
Also, the kids were painting on the road, which was very cute.

What else?

Just a bit about our life at the moment… so you will be updated (the events I wrote about are a bit old…)
Iris is here for a month and a bit. We finished all the papers with her, and her Visa's fine, so that is good. She started learning Shodo – Japanese Calligraphy, which is very cool. Also, she joined a group of students who practice Belly dancing from a Russian teacher (who studies Japanese with me). Yup, she is learning Belly dancing from a Russian teacher in Japan… a bit absurd, isn't it?

I am still working on my Japanese… I am getting a lot better, but I am very far away from being even close to fluent. It is a bit frustrating. I do understand almost 30% of what is going on in my Sensei's class… it is much better than the absolutely nothing that I understood in the first few classes.

In the Karate Dojo everything's great – I am practicing hard – about 4 times a week. There is an international Gashuku (training camp) here on July, so we practice extra hard at the moment – the Sensei wants to show that the Honbu Dojo (Main Dojo) is the strongest…

Another nice thing – I started playing the flute again. I met a nice French guy (apparently there is such a thing) who plays the guitar, and we meet once in a while and play together. It is really fun getting back to that.

Well, that is it for now.

Miss you all, so say something and let me know you are alive…


Jun 18, 2008

A long one...

Hi all.

Again, sorry for not updating for so long… the fact that we don't have an internet connection at home is really uncomfortable. But now I started a new system (Iris's idea) – I am writing this post in advance at home, and I will upload it once we will get to the university to log in.

Before anything else, I wanted to show you this video we took in the hospital:
This is how they move files from one place to another… cool, eh?

Another few nice things in the hospital (no pictures, though):

  1. The lines in front of the desks are actually drawn on the floor… when we saw it, we were amused. When we saw that people actually walking on the lines, we were laughing hard!!!
  2. The method of paying is real nice – you go to a machine, and pay to it, no lines or anything. When you are done, there is a picture of a lady bowing down and saying Arigato Gozaimasu (Thank you very much)!
  3. Another cool thing for me – it seems that the Japanese government is going to cover all of my medical expanses! I picked the right diseases!

(I did discover, though, that the paper work for getting this discount is not so simple…)

That is it with the hospital. Now we will move to the Museum.

In order to tell that story, I have to tell you about Naomi.

Naomi is a 37 years old Okinawan woman, divorced with six kids. Her father is a member in a Japanese Israel loving Christian sect named Makoya. So it happens that she lived in Israel as a kid, and knows Hebrew. She is a really nice and unpredictable person, and although what she does for living is translation and teaching (she also knows English), her "thing" is connecting people. She knows lots of people, and if she hears about a common interest, she will immediately arrange a meeting between them.

Our connection with Naomi started after Iris arrived. We got a call from her, explaining that she met me at Passover dinner (I must say I don't remember her from back then…) and wanted to ask if I can give Hebrew lessons to a Japanese kid that she teaches, because she moved to a far place.

So anyway, back to our story – the museum… Naomi's boyfriend was part of a symposium concerning the American bases in Okinawa from an economic perspective. My professor was also part of this thing (I think he was one of the organizers, actually), so she suggested we would come and meet her boyfriend, and maybe have a look at the lectures (not actually sit there and listen, because it is in Japanese…).

The plan was to get there, see the lecture for two minutes, and then she had to go somewhere. When she is gone we would tour the museum, and when she will come back, we will meet her boyfriend.

What really happened was that we saw the lecture for two minutes, met my professor for a second, and then she went to do what she said, and we stayed at the museum. It was real nice – it is a museum about Okinawa and the Ryukyu kingdom (the ancient kingdom that was here before Japan annexed it). It was real nice and interesting, but a bit exhausting… So we went for a coffee – it was real tasty, and our first cappuccino in Japan (we really missed that), and waited for a phone from Naomi. After a while her boyfriend came and asked us if we are Raphael (I already told you that this is my name here…) and Iris. This was Naomi's boyfriend… it seemed we didn't have reception at the museum… He gave us a phone and we talked to Naomi – she couldn't male it back to the museum… we were on our own.

So we decided to go to a nearby mall and look around. The museum is in part of Naha called Shintoshi – the new city. It used to be a huge American base until a few years ago (about 15 I think) and now it is a new part of the city. The mall was real nice – we bought a camera for the computer and some other stuff. And also a very tasty ice-cream :)

Now, these are the toilets in the museum (not too special, you can see lots of them...):

As you can see, there are lots of buttons - to wash the buttocks, set the power level... and the funniest one - to do a flushing sound, so other people won't be able to hear the sounds you make... I must say that they have this button only on the ladies room, though.
Notice that they have no button to flush the water, though... just your regular handle.

On the other hand, they have lots of toilets like this, too (not in the museum, though):

Just a picture of me outside the museum, talking to my family in Israel (it was around my birthday):

One last thing - try to guess what this is:

Hint: It has something to do with my birth day, and nothing to do with Japan.

OK, it appears that this method of writing makes the posts extremely long… hope you enjoyed it.


P.S. – I must admit that I am quite far behind with the updates… this was about two weeks ago…

Jun 2, 2008

A trip

A bit late, but still...
About a week ago iris and I went to a trip in the northern part of Okinawa with two friends of mine from the Karate - Vincent - from Switzerland and Edwin - born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in New York, and is married to an Okinawan woman...
So... I will tell the story with the pics:

This is on the way, a nice spot... so we took a couple of pics.

This is still on the way - a place called Hiro's coffee. Sadly, it is not that easy to get a decent coffee around here, but we stopped at that place - Hiro - the owner grows his own coffee beans and roasts them. It was real fun (and tasty).
The beautiful white flowers - coffee flowers! Did you know that? We didn't...
We also got to taste the coffee fruit - it is quite sweet - the coffee beans are inside the fruit, and are white and soft until roasted... We didn't know that too...

Now to the trip itself. I think the pictures speak for themselves...

This is the sea (although we didn't get to swim this time).

And the second part of the trip - we walked on a nice river...

With cool spider - which I tried to take pictures of (and didn't do such a good job as you can see).

That is it for now... sorry it takes me so long to update.