weill in japan: day 44
Two days remain in my trip. Today was a sad day in class, but got better
Today, August 15, is the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II
according to our professor. Today is a day of remembrance for veterans who
served in Japan's armed forces during the war.
The day started just fine, as an unexpected ten people showed up to class.
Two of the five people who missed presentations yesterday returned. After some
brief discussions that didn't go anywhere, we watched some highlights from the
popular high school baseball tournament now going on. Similar to the NCAA
basketball finals] in the U.S., the high school finals consist of teams from
every prefecture competing in a single-elimination tournament.
Tomorrow is the last day of classes, and also features skits being
presented by the various classes. While most classes' skits have been in the
works for weeks, we were only invited to discuss ours today. We plan to do
five minutes' worth of sketches illustrating various annoyances and curiosities
about daily life in Japan, but I'm praying that we can all get out of it
Today was the last day when we watched "Beautiful Life," a TV drama with
pretty good production values. I watched the first part of today's episode
on Monday afternoon, and explained it to my classmates before we watched the
remainder. It turns out that this episode was actually the series finale,
and features an ending which is anything but happy. Some people in the class
broke down in tears, and the mood was very somber in the closing hour of
After helping a classmate compile some of the professor's digital photos
into a booklet for the class, I left campus, got some lunch, and headed home.
With no homework due tomorrow, I only have to wash my clothes and pack on
Friday night before departing on Saturday. It's nice not to have anything to
In Japan, there is a tradition of reciprocal gifts. Any gift received must
be repaid with a gift in return of about half the perceived value. I gave
my host family a gift from Long Island's famous
Big Duck shortly after I arrived. Today, my
host mother gave me a couple of gifts to take back to the States: a set of
traditional toys including a top and a paper balloon, and a traditional-looking
hand towel. They're small enough to pack in my luggage, and they were a nice
gesture from my host mother. That nice surprise made up for a saddening day in
Money is holding up just well. On Friday and Saturday, I can spend the last
few thousand yen in my wallet before heading home.
Today's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" episode was particularly profitable
for a contestant who knows English. One contestant got a ¥2,500,000
question asking for the chemical abbreviation for gold, another was asked
to identify the abbreviation for a company's top executive, and
a third was asked for the English name for the stick a conductor uses. My
host family, the contestant, and the studio audience were all convinced it was
takuta, the loanword used to refer to that stick, but I insisted it was
baton. "Baton" was, of course, the correct answer to the shock of
everyone in attendance.
I blew ¥200 in the tin badge vending machine again, getting two new
badges for my Famicom collection. They both come from the game "Ice Climber,"
which came back into the spotlight last year after its title characters were
added to the game "Super Smash Bros. Melee" for GameCube. I now have seven
of the 15 badges in the collection.
Tomorrow is the last day of classes, and I've cleared my camera's memory
out to take plenty of pictures. One of the staffers took a group photo today
with a total of nine cameras for 12 people, and I expect that sort of thing
to happen regularly tomorrow after the shortened class session. Packing
everything will be no small task, but it will be doable.