JAPAN - SUMMER 1993
During the summer of 1993, I spent 8 weeks in Japan, on a Three Nails Fellowship at Obirin University in Machida, Japan. Part of the time I wrote a diary which I emailed in installments to relatives back home. It covers the first three and a half weeks, when I was staying at the university and made excursions between giving seven lectures. The remaining four and a half weeks are not included, since I did not carry the computer with me as I travelled to 21 cities all over Japan. In a separate link I describe Japanese Writing.
SUNDAY MAY 30
My flight from LA yesterday was pleasant. But I was tired when I arrived, it was 10:30 PM Los Angeles time and 2:30 PM Tokyo time. I went through customs, changed some money from dollars to yen, picked up some brochures from the Japan National Tourist organization, and waited for a student from Obirin University to meet me. The airport is in Narita, which is 40 miles northeast of Tokyo. In Tokyo we transferred to a subway and rode across town to the Shinjuku train station, then caught another train out to Machida, which is southwest of Tokyo.
On the ride into Tokyo from the airport, I noticed many farms with rice paddies. The farm houses, though modern, had tile roofs which were reminiscent of Japanese temples. I could easily tell that I was in Japan, and not the US or Europe. As we came closer to downtown, there were apartment buildings and warehouses which could have been anywhere, but most individual houses still had a modern Japanese style. Surrounding the houses were small gardens with carefully pruned shrubs. Sometimes there were vegetable gardens, when there was space.
Downtown Tokyo has many tall buildings, reminiscent of New York. There were many big neon signs, also reminiscent of New York, but most of the signs were in Japanese. Quite a few signs were in English as well, however, and some brand names were in English. (The signs are the airport were in both languages, and some of the signs in the subway and train stations are in both languages too).
The other striking thing was the number of vending machines. They seem to be everywhere downtown. Not just in train stations, but also on street corners in residential neighborhoods!
I was having trouble keeping my eyes open on the way out to Machida, so I don't remember much of that route. A professor from the US who teaches American Studies at Obirin University met us with his car took me to the apartment in which I am staying. It's on the third floor of an apartment building across from the campus. Outside I met another professor who is here on a Fullbright Fellowship.
The apartment has a large room, which serves as kitchen, dining, and living room. There also is a bedroom, with a bed has a quilt cover like those used in Europe. In addition, there is a utility area which has a small washing machine, a small room with a toilet, and a bath room which has a European shower head outside a deep bathtub. (The Japanese wash and rinse before entering the tub, and use the tub like a hot tub). There also are slippers in the bathroom, which are used only in the bathroom to keep your feet clean. No shoes are worn in the apartment, which has carpeting similar to outdoor carpeting but with no pile.
I went to bed at 9:30 PM Tokyo time, which was 5:30 AM Los Angeles time. I woke up at 1:30 AM, took some Benadryl antihistamine, and went back to sleep until 5:00 AM Tokyo time. So I'm doing pretty well right now.
MONDAY MAY 31
As part of the Fellowship, I was asked to give six lectures to students who were interested in studying abroad, plus an Open Lecture for anyone on campus. The following describes my lectures and travel plans.
My lectures will be 4:30-6:00 PM, after regular classes are over, so any of the students who wish to attend will be able to do so. The dates and topics of my lectures are as follows:
Wed. June 2 - culture shock (stress due to change, and coping with stress)
Mon. June 7 - cross-cultural differences in nonverbal communication
Mon. June 14 - differences in leadership styles and group dynamics
Wed. June 16 - educational systems, classroom expectations, and relationships
between professors and students
Mon. June 21 - daily routines of family life and leisure activities
Tues. June 22 - OPEN LECTURE (for anyone on campus) - friendship & dating
Wed. June 23 - miscommunication problems (language, stereotypes, safety)
The lectures are spread out, because they are interwoven with lectures by another visiting professor who is an anthropologist. I plan to attend his open lecture Tuesday June 15, since I have to be in town Monday and Wednesday that week anyway. In addition, the Crown Prince is getting married Wednesday June 9 so the entire country has a holiday that day, which gives me 6 days free to travel next week.
I plan to do my long distance travelling after June 23. Before then I will take day trips and long weekend trips in and out of Tokyo. This Thursday and Friday June 3-4 I will explore more of downtown Tokyo, and Friday evening through Monday morning June 4-7 I will visit my American friend who teaches English in Yokohama.
This morning the student who had met me at the airport and another student served as my tour guides. They both recently returned from their junior year abroad in the US, so they speak American English quite well. They took me to the CIS office, where I met the Director and the other staff and students who work there. The CIS is the office which makes arrangements for Obirin students to travel abroad, and for foreign students to study at Obirin. It works closely with the academic department called the School for International Studies (SIS), which includes an English Language Program. Students in the ELP study abroad their junior year. An American teaches American Studies (literature, history, etc.) in the SIS. The SIS also includes a Japanese Language Program for foreigners studying here.
The Director introduced me to the President of Obirin University. It turns out that when he was an undergraduate, he was an exchange student for two years at Whittier College, where I teach. So he has fond memories of it, and the family that let a foreign student live with them while he attended school. His daughter was an exchange student at Whittier 8 years ago, and in fact was one of my students in my Research Seminar class. Now she teaches Japanese at Obirin.
The two students gave me a tour of the campus. It turns out that Obirin has a 4-year university, a 2-year junior college (offering terminal degrees in English or Home Ec), a 3-year high school, a 3-year junior high school, and a kindergarten. It is common for private schools to have several educational levels in Japan. There are about 4000 university students, and 3000 students in the other schools at Obirin. The various schools are adjacent to each other on the same campus. There are two dormitories for female university students, so the rest of the women and all of the men must either live in apartments or commute from home. Most live with their parents and commute, as do the younger students in the other schools. This apparently is common in Japan as well.
The name Obirin looks similar to Oberlin, because the Japanese founder of the school was an alum of Oberlin College in Ohio. He selected the similar name Obirin, which means "beautiful cherry forest." However, the Japanese pronounce it like Oh-buh-deen.
There are several cafeterias around campus, and we had lunch in one of them. Instead of selecting your food, and then paying for it, you select your food, figure the cost, buy a ticket from a vending machine outside, and present the ticket when you order! I also saw the campus coop store, which has cheaper prices than the convenience store across from campus.
In the afternoon, my guides showed me how to take the bus from campus into downtown Machida (pronounced muh-CHEE-duh), about 30 minutes away. When you get on the bus you take a ticket with a zone number (this bus had 30 zones, roughly a zone per minute). Above the exit is a fare board which shows the amount of fare corresponding to each zone number, which increases like a taxi meter for each zone number. So when you exit the bus you look up the fare, and deposit your ticket and the exact fare in a fare box.
While Obirin is in a residential area, downtown Machida is very urban, with busy boulevards and large department stores. I was surprised at the prices. Right now the exchange rate is about 100 yen per US dollar, so it's convenient to think of yen as cents. We passed a fruit stand, which had imported fruit. A cantalope was $20. A small round watermelon was $19. A package of 6 large oranges was $5. But strawberries were only $2 for a box containing about a pint -- they must not have been imported.
We walked back to campus. I cooked dinner, and tried to watch some TV. There are at least a dozen stations, but everything is in Japanese. On TV, movies and imported TV shows are dubbed. In theatres and on videotapes subtitles are used instead -- but the theatre in Machida charges $15 admission. I read some guidebooks and tried to stay awake, but couldn't keep my eyes open past 9:00 PM (which was 5 AM LA time).
TUESDAY JUNE 1
Form the moment of my arrival, it has seemed normal to be in Japan. Even though I have never been to Japan before, I was already familiar with Japanese food, Japanese art, Japanese gardens (in Seattle and San Francisco), and Japanese communities (in Seattle and LA). So it isn't "foreign" to me.
Tuesday morning one of my student guides was sick, so the other showed me how to take the train into Tokyo. At the main transfer points, the subway signs are in both Japanese and English, but at the other stations only Japanese is used. So figuring out which track to take requires looking up the Japanese characters on a bilingual map, and then matching the characters -- or finding someone who speaks English or understand your mispronunciation of the Japanese names.
Even more challenging is figuring out the fare. You use a chart, written in Japanese, to figure out the fare depending on your destination, and then buy a ticket from a vending machine (what else?). You insert the ticket in a turnstyle as you enter the subway, and then reinsert the ticket when you exit the subway at the other end. If the amount of the ticket is short, a machine will tell you what you owe -- so a mistake could be rectified. Fortunately, the problem of figuring train fares will be avoided when I use a Japan Rail Pass.
My guide showed me the location of the largest bookstore in Tokyo, a seven-story building which has an entire floor devoted to foreign books (mostly in English). This bookstore is the place where foreigners congregate the most! There I found a bilingual map of Tokyo (essential!) and a map of the major rail lines throughout Japan. I also ran into the psychology professor at Obirin, who is a social psychologist from the U.S.
We also went to a large department store which has a Youth Hostel information desk to buy a Youth Hostel membership. I needed a photo, so we had to go find a photo machine on the street (like the ones in our drugstores).
As we explored the city, we passed several pachinko parlors. These are pinball machines used for gambling. There also were some places with video poker machines for gambling. There was another place with video games which had a couple of large video screens.
We went into a large office building in the area, and took the elevator to the top floor for views of Tokyo from the air. Except for the signs in Japanese, the office buildings could have been anywhere.
When we were ready to head back to Obirin, it was 5:00 and rush hour. There were literally thousands of people moving through the underground maze at the Shinjuku train station. As we approached the platform, a train packed with people was ready to pull out. The last people entering the train pressed in backwards, and reached up above the door to push themselves in against the other people just before the doors closed. There were other people politely waiting in line on the platform. At each door position, there was a two-person wide line waiting for the next train (10 minutes later), and next to them another line waiting for the train after that. They were waiting in line to get a seat; those who wished to stand could get on without waiting in line, after the line entered.
We waited in the second line for 15 minutes for the second train, so that we could sit during the 40-minute train ride. I had never seen anything like this before. In Boston, New York, and in European countries I had been in, everyone crowds and pushes their way into the subways. But in Japan, there is no jostling to get in, just pushing together after you are already in the train. Indeed, there are train persons who sometimes push the people in so the doors will close. As I sat riding on the train, I felt that it was worth it to wait 15 minutes to be able to sit instead of being pressed against everyone else in the aisles.
As I headed across the street to campus, I ran into some students at a bus stop who work at CIS. I asked them what the students do for fun. They smiled sheepishly and said that they go to bars in Machida or Shinjuku. The drinking age is officially 20, but they are never asked for id, so students as young as 16 are served in the bars. Around the campus, anyone can buy beer from the vending machines which are located a block or two away. Some aspects of college life appear to be fairly universal!
I heard some music on campus over by the "club" buildings and went to investigate. At Obirin there are no fraternities or sororities. But there are about 50 clubs. About 30 of them are for various sports, including archery, baseball, basketball, hiking, judo, etc. The other 20 are for other things like drama, literary criticism, photography, jazz, flower arranging, and tea ceremony. There are several buildings on campus where the clubs each have a room in which they can meet and store their things. I talked to some students who were outside one of the club rooms, who said that the live music was from the jazz club.
Young people in Japan see American movies and TV shows, and many want to visit America, as was true in Europe. When I asked if there were any places to dance, one explained that his friends were dancing right now. He took me to a patio nearby where three guys were practicing some fancy dance steps they had learned from a music video, while some girls watched them perform. They were practicing for a festival next Saturday.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 2
While I was eating breakfast, there was a minor earthquake. But it didn't startle me, since I'm used to small quakes. I'd guess it was about 3.5. Such small quakes happen here every once in a while. The last big quake occurred in 1923.
I spent the morning writing up my experiences, editing my first lecture notes, and preparing a handout for my second lecture next week. After lunch, I stopped by the CIS office to let them know I was around for my lecture that afternoon, then explored the library. I found a book on American Studies which describes each of the 50 states, and found it interesting to read about Oregon, Washington, and California. I learned that the proposal to divide California into two states is not recent; it was first proposed two years after California became a state, and was approved by the California legislature but rejected by the US Congress!
At 4:30 I gave my first lecture. It was in a large lecture room in the new School of International Studies building, which is half a block from my apartment. There were 55 students, including a student who will be an exchange student at Whittier College in the fall. The lecture went very well. I defined Culture Shock as stress caused by changes due to living in another culture. I then proceeded to define stress, describe the physiological, cognitive, and emotional aspects of it, and factors influencing it. I talked about sources of stress in terms of developmental issues (e.g., seeking independence from parents), life events, and daily hassles. I had adapted my notes from the lecture on stress that I give to my Intro Psych class at Whittier.
I then had them break into small groups and discuss what changes would occur if they lived in another culture, and they had good insights. But one answer was amusing to me. Someone said that fashion would be different. I looked at what they were wearing -- almost all were wearing jeans, most had on t-shirts or sweatshirts. I told them that my students in Whittier wore the same clothes that they were wearing. The main difference was that in LA now most male and many female students wear baseball caps, which none of them were wearing. We talked about why that was so, and noted the influence of American movies and TV on young people around the world.
I enjoyed interacting with the students. After the lecture several students came up to tell me that they had enjoyed it and were looking forward to my second lecture (which will be on nonverbal communication). On the way out of the building I ran into another professor, who invited me to join him and other professors who taught English for dinner at the local pizza parlor.
THURSDAY JUNE 3
I spent the morning reading guidebooks about Tokyo and nearby excursions. I read about Yokohama, where my friend from graduate school in the US lives, and Kamakura, which he suggested that we visit. Kamakura has Buddhist temples and a huge statue of Buddha. I also read about Hakone, a popular resort area near Mt. Fuji. I made reservations by phone to stay Tuesday night and Wednesday night June 8-9 at a Japanese inn in the Hakone area.
I went to CIS and met a vsiting anthropologist. It turns out that he earned his PhD in the Social Relations Department at Harvard, ten years before I did. I had lunch with him and his wife.
After lunch I took the trains into Tokyo and went to see the Meiji Shrine. On the way from the subway station I saw a street vendor selling dumplings fried in a grill with round indentations. In each dumpling was an octupus leg, some ginger, and seaweed. I bought half a dozen and they were quite good.
The shrine is in a park with a beautiful cedar forest. It is so peaceful, with only the wind in the trees, even though a few hundred yards away there is the noise and bustle of a city with 13 million inhabitants. The shrine is devoted to Emperor Meiji (1854-1912) who opened up Japan to modern development. The outer entrance to the shrine has a huge wooden arch, made of ancient cedar. Near the shrine there is a bamboo fountain with long-handled wooden ladles which you use to rinse your hands to cleanse yourself. You are also supposed to gargle the water, but I skipped that.
The shrine is in classic Shinto style. The Shinto religion is the old religion of Japan before Buddhism was introduced from China. It emphasizes worship of ancestors. Many Japanese embrace both Shintoism and Buddhism, feeling that they are not incompatible.
The Shrine is rectangular, with an inner courtyard, which only priests may enter. It is constructed of cedar. When you approach the shrine there are waist-high boxes between the pillars, which have slats. You are supposed to toss money into the box, bow deeply twice, clap your hands twice, then bow once again. I tossed a coin and bowed a little, but felt silly clapping my hands standing there alone. But then three Japanese women approached and went through the whole ritual.
Nearby was a stand selling trinkets, but no postcards. Also nearby was a rack on which were hung pieces of wood shaped like postcards, on which prayers were written. On the way out of the park I stopped at a restroom, and encountered my first Japanese-style toilet. The one in my apartment and elsewhere I had been were American style. But this one had a rectangular porcelain bowl recessed in the floor. It had a hood on one end, like the hood on an infant boy's potty chair. Apparently, you squat to use it. I just stood and aimed since that was all I needed to do. With that type of toilet, I could see why the Japanese wear slippers in the toilet room and only use those slippers there. (Wearing the toilet room slippers outside that room is a cardinal sin!).
[Later when visiting an historical village, I learned that when floors were made of bamboo, a rectangular hole was cut in the bamboo for use as a toilet. That tradition was continued by making ceramic toilets rectangular and recessed in the floor.]
Outside the restroom there was a fountain for rinsing your hands. While there was toilet paper by the toilet, there was nothing for drying your hands. My U.S. friend had warned me that the Japanese carry a hanky for that purpose.
The tranquility of the shrine was soon shattered when I stepped outside the park and walked up past the Shinjuku train station to an area called Kabuki-cho. This is one of the liveliest nightspots in Tokyo. There are dozens of pachinko parlors, with noisy pinball machines. There are many video poker parlors and video arcade game parlors as well. In addition, this is where the "girlie shows" are located. I was amazed at the prices -- $40 before 9 Pm and $60 after 9 PM. One was for Japanese only and advertised a price of $130. There also are many storefronts with pictures of women in the entryway, and a man sitting at a desk with a telephone inside. Their prices weren't advertised, and I didn't bother to inquire.
There were only a couple of stands selling "girlie magazines," including the Japanese version of Playboy. But they were pretty tame by American standards, since Japanese law does not allow magazines to show pubic hair. On the other hand, there were several video stores doing a thriving business.
In that area and all around it are many bars and restaurants. In fact, a building may have several bars on different floors. The sign outside will be tall and narrow, with the names of the bars and their floors (1F, 2F, 3F) stacked above the another.
I found a restaurant that looked lively, and went inside. Most places have plastic samples of their menu choices with prices attached, but this one didn't. Instead, it had strips of paper hanging from a string with prices and menu items in Japanese. I was ushered to the counter, looked around and saw something interesting, and pointed. There was a young couple on one side of me who smiled, and an older gentleman on the other side who kept smiling and talking to me in Japanese. I told him I didn't understand, but he kept talking anyway. Across the counter from me was one of the cooks, who was smiling and obviously enjoying what he was doing. I enjoyed the food and the setting.
From there I took the subway to the other area of Tokyo known for its nightlife, Roppongi. I discovered that figuring out subway fares was easier that I had anticipated. I trace the route on my English subway map, counting stations, then I trace the same route on the Japanese subway map on the wall, counting stations. Then I read the fare from the Japanese map. The signs to the subway platforms are often in English, but if they aren't I just call out the name of my destination to an attendant, who points. Everyone is very helpful, and some offer help in limited English while I am studying the Japanese subway map.
Roppongi is known for restaurants, bars, and discos. But I had trouble finding the discos listed in my guidebook. Apparently they come and go. Maybe it's just as well. The better ones in the book had a cover charge of $40. I did find one listed one that was only $13 cover, but it was playing 1960s music and it didn't seem very interesting.
Near that disco, however, I found a shop selling exotic condoms. The place was a scream. It had flavored condoms and glow in the dark condoms. The funniest thing, however, was a condom hat. First I took a picture of it, then after I left I came back and bought it. I think it will make quite an impression when I wear it in Intro Psych when I lecture on AIDS!
[In subsequent years, students would look forward to the day that I wear the condom hat, since they had heard about it before. The first time I wore it, I wore it all day, including to a faculty meeting. What began as a titter on one side of the room, soon became an uproar of laughter throughout the room.]
FRIDAY JUNE 4
Since I was out late Thursday night, I slept in Friday morning. I spent the morning writing letters and reading. In the afternoon I took the Obirin university bus into Fuchinobe, and took the train south to Yokohama (which took about an hour and a half, since I had to change trains at Higashi-Lanagawa). I met my friend from graduate school in the U.S. at the Kannai station downtown, and we walked to the YMCA office where he works.
He teaches English in a school run by the YMCA. Most of the students are high school graduates who did not get into the university, and want to find a job in the travel or import-export industries. A few will retake the university entrance exams. We ran into some of his students in the hall, and they seemed very nice. According to my friend, their knowledge of English and their ability to learn English varies a great deal. So his advanced classes are fun to teach, but some of the students in the beginning classes can be frustrating.
We left my airline bag in his office, while went exploring. I had only brought the bag because it was full of dirty laundry. He has a large washing machine, while I have a tiny one that I haven't bothered to figure out how to use yet (you wash on one side and spin on the other side).
Yokohama has a large Chinatown, so we explored that. It was similar to other Chinatowns I had visited in San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles. We also walked along the harbor and went onto a cruise ship that is anchored as a restaurant there; on the deck is a Beer Garden where we had a beer and looked at the skyline. Since Yokohama was essentially leveled during World War II, there is little left that is historical or traditionally Japanese. There are old warehouses and modern hotels, that could be virtually anywhere. But it was pleasant to look at the harbor view and talk.
We then met several of his colleagues from work, and had dinner at an Indian restaurant. They said they are glad to have jobs, and the pay is good, but they are frustrated with a new boss who doesn't know how to communicate with them. They felt that more generally, Japanese businessmen often have difficulty understanding Westerners, and vice versa.
Japan is a land of contrasts, old and new, Eastern and Western. Since World War II, Japan has adopted many Western ideas and values, which sometimes replace and sometimes stand alongside Eastern values. While the traditional values focused on simplicity and aesthetics, the new values focus on wealth and materialism. Shopping is a major national pastime. The stores are most crowded on Sunday, when families go shopping together.
While Japan is on the cutting edge in some areas, like electronic goods, it lags behind in other areas, like women's rights. It is difficult for women who wish to pursue a career to do so. Women are expected to get married, quit work, and stay home and raise the kids. So the jobs that are available for women tend to be secretarial jobs which are low paying. This is changing, but not as quickly as in the US or Europe.
It is typical for Japanese businessmen to commute an hour and a half each way every day. They sometimes work late, and often stop for a drink after work with clients or coworkers, so they usually do not get home until late in the evening. (When I took the trian from Roppongi at 10:00 Thursday night, I saw many men in business suits carrying briefcases).
While we were talking, some French music was playing in the background. Here I was listening to French music while talking to Canadians and Americans in an Indian Restaurant in Japan! The dinner was good -- I had chicken curry and a salad, along with Indian bread (similar to pita bread) and beer.
After dinner my friend and I took the train three stops to Konandai station, and walked half a mile to his apartment. His apartment is on the fourth floor of building that has eight apartments. There is a small kitchen with refrigerator, table, 4 chairs, and metal-legged "sofa" with two seats.
Beyond the kitchen, and extending wider than the kitchen to the right, there is another room which serves as both living room and bedroom. It has traditional tatami mats (woven of straw) on the floor; it is a 6-mat room since it takes 6 mats to cover the floor. Two-inch thick folded mattresses, called futons, are spread out for sleeping.
To the right of the kitchen is a utility area which has a washing machine and a wash basin. On the right of it is a small room with toilet; it is American style, except that the toilet tank is filled by a faucet that flows into an indentation in the top of the tank, so that you can wash your hands. (I've seen that style of toilet elsewhere in Japan). On the left of the utility area is folding door with a deep tub and a European shower head with a hose that you can use to spray anywhere on your body, similar to my apartment.
SATURDAY JUNE 5
After an American breakfast, we took the train back to downtown. He and his colleagues had their monthly meeting with their boss. During that time, I went to the Silk Museum and learned about the cultivation of silkworms and how the cocoons are unraveled to make silk. There is a greater variety of weaves than I was aware, with different textures. Historical and modern kimonos and scarves, as well as Western clothing were also on display. From about 1870 to 1945 silk was the most important export from Japan, accounting for 30-40% of all exports, and Yokohama was the center of the silk exports.
I also visited the Yokohama Archives of History. Prior to the 1600s Japan had had limited contact with China and Korea, and a small group of Dutch traders had come to Nagasaki. Then Japan was sealed off from foreign contact for 200 years by the Shogun (military leader). However, in 1853 Admiral Perry sailed into Yokohama harbor with the US Navy and told the Shogun to open up for trade or else. Japan was forced to sign an unfavorable trade agreement which allowed the US to charge high tariffs on Japanese goods while the Japanese could not charge high tariffs on American goods. Similar agreements were then signed with England, France, and Russia.
The museum has old photos along with a model of a steam engine. The steam engine is important because it powered Admiral Perry's ships, and also because it powered the industrialization of Japan. Japanese handmade goods could not compete with the factory-made goods from the US and Europe, so steam engines were used in Japanese factories to produce silk and other products.
My friend and I then wandered around an annual fair that was being held in a park nearby. There were many booths selling food, flowers, clothing, and other goods. I had some octopus dumplings, as well as a folded-over pancake that had shredded cabbage, egg, sprinkled dried fish, and spices.
We then walked a mile along the harbor, past an amusement park and new hotels, then took the subway back so we could take a harbor cruise. It was a 90-minute ride on a ship the size of a small Washington state ferry. It went out into Tokyo bay, made a big circle, then came back. It was nice smelling the sea air, and my friend enjoyed it very much after the stressful group meeting with his boss.
We then wandered around Chinatown some more. I found some Japanese
t-shirts that were only $9 instead of the $29 I had seen in a department store We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant where the wife of one of my friend's colleagues works. She is from Singapore, and is extremely nice.
SUNDAY JUNE 6
After a leisurely breakfast my friend and I went to explore Kamakura, which had been the capital of Japan for 200 years from 1192. We took the train to Ofuna station and then took a small old train through the woods to Hase station. There it was a short walk to the Daibutsu, the second largest Buddha in Japan, which was 37 feet high. It originally was inside a temple, but a storm had washed the temple away. It was erected by the Shogun in thanks for a storm which prevented Kubla Kahn's men from invading Japan.
On the way to the Buddha we overheard English behind us, the first time I had overheard English not being spoken directly to me in a week. There was an exchange student from Yakima, Washington, who was talking to a student from Australia. He has been spending the past year attending a Japanese high school. He didn't know any Japanese before coming here, but all of his classes are in Japanese. One of his classmates does some translating for him in class. What a challenge!
We also went to the nearby Hasedera Temple, which dates from 736. Inside the temple is a 30 foot statue of the goddess of mercy, made of wood with gold gilt. In front of the Temple there is a great view of the harbor. Behind the temple is a long cave, which has small shrine niches with small statues and candles inside. Worshippers can buy small pieces of wood with the image of a god, for writing a prayer on the back, and then display them in the cave.
We then took the train to Kita-Kamakura station and visited 4 Buddhist Temples there. There were in a beautiful forest setting, on both sides of a valley. Engakuji Temple had an impressive wooden main gate, a new temple covered with plaster, a small ancient (1282) temple with a thatched roof, and a huge bell. It was very serene there.
Tokeiji Temple is of interest because it is known as the divorce temple. Women wishing to divorce their husbands could run to the temple for refuge and seek asylum by throwing a shoe over the wall. After living three years with the nuns, who tried to arrange a reconciliation, the woman was declared divorced and was able to leave a free woman. Behind the temple was an old cemetery which stepped up the hill among beautiful tall trees.
Jochiji Temple was closed, but it had a pretty garden behind it with a bright red Japanese maple tree. Finally, Meigetsuin Temple had a rock garden, a bamboo forest, and a garden full of hydrangeas. We arrived at that temple just after it closed, but the young men closing up let us in anyway. When we got to the temple, there was a woman using an electric vacuum cleaner to clean the floor of the old temple!
On the way back to the train station we passed a traditional Japenese restaurant, and had a bowl of noodles with vegetables and fish cake while sitting on tatami mats on the floor at low tables. It looked very aesthetic, but it was uncomfortable sitting cross-legged!
After we took the train back to the main Kamakura station, we joined a Japanese couple to whom my friend gives private English lessons. We went with them to see a piano recital by a friend of theirs. Two women played the same piano for pieces by Dvorak and Brahms, then they played separate pianos for pieces by Milhaud, DeBussy, and Schablie. After the recital, they took us out for cheese pizza and beer. He was the captain of a cargo ship for many years, and now works in the office of a steamship company. He said that the company employs both Japanese and Norwegian seamen, who have difficulty understanding each other and working together. Their children are now grown. By the time we got back to my friend's apartment we were exhausted.
MONDAY JUNE 7
I took the train back to Fuchinobe, and the bus to Obidin. I typed up my impressions of the weekend, wrote up notes for my second lecture this afternoon, and relaxed and read for a while. I took the garbage out, but then couldn't fit where to put it. While I was looking around, another resident of the apartment building came by and showed me where the garbage area was across the street. He graduated from Oberlin University in Ohio a year ago, and is here on a fellowship teaching English for two years. He is originally from Long Island, New York.
My lecture on Nonverbal Communication went very well. We talked about different "channels" of nonverbal communication, and I learned some gestures from the students. We also talked about cross-cultural differences in the use of time and space. They feel they should arrive at 7:00 for a 7:00 dinner, instead of being fashionably (5-10 minutes) late as many Americans expect; but they too feel that you should arrive at 9:00 for an 8:00 party. They were even more responsive than at my first lecture. About 10 of them stayed after class to talk -- they were so excited about the topic.
At the end of the lecture, the lone psychologist at Obirin came by, whom I had met briefly before. He told me that his students had told him how much they liked my lectures. He also told me that he remembered where he had seen my name before -- in Anne Peplau's social psychology textbook.
We went out to dinner together for Japanese noodles and beef. He has been at Obirin for 15 years. His wife is Japanese, and they have a 7 year old daughter. He likes teaching here. After dinner I went back to my apartment to finish writing up these impressions, so I could mail them tomorrow on my way to Hakone, the resort by Mt. Fuji.
JUNE 8 TUESDAY
I took the Obirin bus into Fuchinobe, took the train to Machida, then bought a Hakone Free Pass. It provides train passage to Hakone National Park (around Mt. Fuji), and all the various forms of transportation within the park (which I will describe). It was about an hour from Machida out to Odawara. Along the way we passed farms with rice paddies.
In Odawara I boarded the Hakone Tozan Railway, a small two-car train with electric trollies which trudged up the mountainside, with several switchbacks. At each switchback the train reversed direction. At the fourth stop, Hakone Yumoto, I got off to try the hot spring bath there. While there are about 2000 public baths in Tokyo, this one is the closest outdoor bath.
I walked up the hill to what looked like a private home, with signs in Japanese along the way. Inside the doorway you take off your shoes. There were lockers for your shoes -- the first time I had seen lockers for shoes! There were separate bath areas for men and women, and I wasn't sure which was which since none of the signs there were in English. But a woman came by and pointed to the right one.
The bath area was like a covered patio, with a wood fence. There were two large sunken hot tubs lined with rocks. There were lockers for your clothes, so I stripped and used one. According to my guidebook the etiquette is to carry a washcloth in front of your private parts. There were two elderly Japanese gentlemen who were very careful about arranging their washcloth as they sat lounging on the side of the baths, but there was another Japanese man about 40 who didn't have a washcloth and didn't seem to care.
There was hot water dripping into a trough. You sit or squat, and use a plastic basin to pour water all over yourself (originally wooden basins were used). You then lather up with your soap. Then you rinse thoroughly. Only then can you enter the bath.
(That is why there is a shower outside the tub in residences like my apartment).
The others motioned for me to enter the far bath first, as they had done. It was a hot 109 degrees Fahrenheit, according to my temperature watch. I slowly eased in, felt my toes and arms tingle, then got out. I then went to the other bath, which I presumed was cooler. It was still 108 degrees. I eased in and stretched out. I stayed in long enough to feel completely relaxed and totally drained. I then sat on the side of the bath a few minutes to cool off, before getting dressed and boarding the train again.
Three stops later I got off at Miyanoshita to have lunch. The next stop on the train was Chokoku-no-Mori, where the Hakone Ope-Air Museum is located. It is a garden filled with sculptures by famous Japanese and western artists. I was very impressed with the sculptures and the way in which they were laid out on the mountainside. I think I took more than a whole roll of film.
There also was a building of art by Picasso. It had ceramics (such as plates with designs) which I didn't find very interesting, but also some wood block prints of bullfight scenes which were very good. Most interesting, however, was a chronology of Picasso's life, which helped me to understand better the various periods of Picasso's work. He was born in 1881. When he was 20 in Paris a friend of his died, which led to his melancholy Blue period. He spent time hanging around the circus, which cheered him up and led to his Pink Period focusing on circus performers at age 23. At 27 he explored cubism. At 44 he was into surrealism. At 56 he painted Guernica, his anti-war painting. He died at age 91 in 1973.
At the last stop of the train, in Gora, I boarded a cablecar (with a cable underneath somewhat like in San Francisco), which climbed up a steeper part of the mountain to the town of Sounzan. There I rode on a Ropeway (gondola car that seats 8 people), for a ride up to the rim of a huge volcano, Mt. Hakone. The crater had collapsed 30,000 years ago, and then seven cones had formed inside the crater. When the ropeway passed from the rim to the tallest cone, we rode over steam vents on the side of the mountain slope about 100 feet below. The steam rose like white smoke which smelled of sulfur. Around the sources of the vents were crusts of sulphur.
I got off at the Owakudani station, which was the high point of the cones, and walked over to see the steam vents nearby. There were pools of water that was boiling, with steam rising from the water, as well as chimneys of steam farther up the side of the crater to the rim beyond. It was more spectacular and eerie than the sulfur areas at Yellowstone National Park in the US, even though there were no geysers but only hot springs.
It was too late to visit the Natural Science Museum there. Indeed the ropeway ticket office was already closed (since 5:00) when I tried to board (at 5:20). But since I had a pass and didn't need to buy a ticket they let me board. What would you do if you were stuck there? The tour buses which wound up mountain roads to the parking lot there had already left, and the restaurant was closed.
The ropeway continued down the other side of the cone to Lake Ashi, which had formed in that part of the crater. At the ropeway terminus I boarded a bus for a 15 minute ride to the Fuji-Hakone Guest House, where I had made reservations by phone (I had used my AT&T card to hold the reservation since I didn't know how late I would arrive). The inn was not as old, elaborate, or expensive as a ryokan, but it was still in a traditional Japanese style.
My guest room had tatami mats on the floor, and a futon for sleeping. There was a small table to sit at on the floor, plus a coin-operated TV! There was a yukata (cotton robe) for wearing to the bath. (I liked the robe and decided I wanted to buy one).
After checking in I walked about two-thirds of a mile to the closest business area, since it was almost 8 PM by then and I was starved. There were half a dozen restaurants, but all were closed except one, a Chinese restaurant run by a very friendly Japanese man who spoke some English. It was interesting watching the other people sitting on stools at the counter, as well as the business men sitting on tatami mats eating at low tables. I had some fried pastry called Gyoza, made of noodle dough (like wontons) folded over like a tiny fruit pie but filled with ground crab and vegetables, plus I had a bowl of rice, and a bowl of noodles with pieces of pork. It was very good. I also had a mug of beer which I continued to sip as I read my guidebook after finishing my meal. In the background was a combination of Japanese and American rock music!
After an hour I walked back to the hotel and took a Japanese bath to rinse off the sweat from walking. The bath room was for individual or family use, since the tub was just large enough for me to stretch out both arms and legs. There were plastic bowls for washing, and plastic stools for sitting which sure beat squatting down! Instead of a trough or faucets along the wall, there were European shower heads mounted half-way up. So you sit while you lather up and rinse yourself with the movable shower head. That's a great way to shower, since you don't have to balance on one foot while you wash the other foot! I also don't need to bend over if the ceiling is too low, or squat down to rinse my hair under the shower head if it isn't high enough. The bath temperature was too hot, since scalding water had been dripping into it. So I used a plastic basin to empty some of the water, then added cold water from a faucet. When it was tolerable, I soaked until I was completely relaxed, then went to bed.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 9
When I woke up it was raining hard. I was glad I wasn't trying to watch the parade in Tokyo. The crown prince was getting married that day, in a private ceremony, but would be in a motorcade across downtown. With hundreds of thousands of people and tight security, I figured it would be a good day to be out of town.
Since it was cool, I noticed a feature of the toilet that I hadn't noticed before. It had a heater in the seat that was plugged into a wall socket! It felt nice! I took a bus along a winding mountain road back to Hakone Yumoto in order to take the train back to Garo to visit the Hakone Art Museum. It had a very nice collection of ceramics, including some large pots which were over 4000 years old. One had a very interesting set of handles on the top. The museum also had a moss garden -- in which moss had been planted instead of grass. It was very beautiful with the various shades of green in the moss, the trees, and the shrubs, which surrounded a bridge, a tea house, and a pond.
From there I took the cable car and ropeway back up to the top of the volcano cone to visit the Natural Science Museum there. When I boarded the ropeway I was in the middle of a group of junior high school students on a field trip, so I rode up with 8 of them. When we took off, the boy sitting next to me became frightened, so I said "It's okay." When the others heard my English, they laughed and repeated what I said, so he laughed. They then introduced themselves, and asked where I was from. When we were high above the sulfur vents, the same boy became frightened again, so the others began singing their school song.
I had lunch at a restaurant next to the ropeway station, and was surprised when they gave me a fork instead of chopsticks. It's the first time I've seen silverware in a restaurant or eaten with silverware outside of my apartment! I actually prefer chopsticks for many foods, because it's easier to pick certain things up with chopsticks. I also like the Japanese way of eating soup -- you eat pieces of food with chopsticks, and pick up the bowl and drink broth from the bowl. In addition, it's appropriate to slurp when you eat noodles -- which would drive my daughter up a wall!
When I paid my admission to the science museum, they gave me a bag containing two eggs which had been cooked in the naturally boiling water; the shells had turned yellow-brown from the sulfur. I ate them later for a snack and they tasted okay.
The museum had displays of taxidermied animals and fish from the region, including a bear! It also had samples of flowers and pieces of wood from various kinds of trees. There was a video showing recent volcanic eruptions from around Japan, as well as maps of active volcanoes. There are hundreds of hot springs all over the country. The exhibit made me realize more clearly the significance of what I had already known, that Japan is made up of volcanic islands.
I took the ropeway on to Lake Ashi again. It was still raining, with a cold wind. Since it was only 3:00 I rode a boat across the lake to Hakone-Machi. The boat was in the shape of the pirate ship from Peter Pan, panted a bright gold, like something you'd expect at Disneyland. (Incidentally, I decided not to spend the time and money to visit Disneyland in Tokyo, since it has the same rides as in Anaheim and Orlando).
In Hakone-Machi I walked to see the Hakone Checkpoint museum. In 1618 the shogun Tokugawa moved the capital of Japan from Kyoto (where it had been for 1000 years) to Edo (the ancient name for Tokyo). To keep his feudal lords from plotting against him, he periodically sent them on trips to Kyoto, while keeping their wives in Tokyo. This checkpoint along the mountain pass was where guards made sure that the wives did not escape. Women caught trying to pass were taken as slaves, while men who accompanied them were crucified and beheaded. The museum showed clothing and weapons from that time period.
I hurried back to the catch the last trip of the ship at 5:00 to return to Togendai where I was staying at the Japanese inn. I thought that more restaurants would be open at that time, but I was mistaken. So I ate at the Chinese resturant again. After walking back to the inn, I read my guidebook some more, then took a relaxing Japanese hot bath.
THURSDAY JUNE 10
I wanted to get an early start, so I hadn't ordered breakfast the night before as I had the previous day. Their breakfast is served only at 8:00. I left at 6:45 to catch the first bus to the boat landing. After being cloudy on Tuesday, and raining all day Wednesday, it was nice to have sunny and warm weather on Thursday.
I am used to buses travelling to the right when I wait at a bus stop. But in Japan, buses travel to the left, since they drive on the left side of the road. So I waited on the wrong side of the road and missed the first bus. I then crossed the road and waited 15 minutes for the next bus. This reverse driving convention is the one thing that has been the most difficult for me to adjust to in Japan -- waiting for the bus on the correct side of the road, and looking in the correct direction when crossing the street. I remember to look to the right (instead of the left) when stepping off a curb, but have trouble remembering to look left (instead of right) when halfway across the street. So I now consciously try to look both ways when leaving the curb and when halfway across. I am glad that I am not driving. I know that I would make a turn somewhere and resume driving on the right, and possibly crash into someone. The same left-right convention applies to walking -- people here pass on the left instead of the right!
When I got to the boat landing at 7:15 I discovered that the first boat trip didn't leave until 9:30. So I walked half a mile to the business district in the other direction to find some breakfast. None of the half dozen cafes and restaurants were open. But there were vending machines, as there are everywhere in Japan. Usually they only have drinks, but I found one with ice cream sandwiches and had three of them for breakfast.
While I was eating, I sat by a dock which had several small fishing boats and a couple of men fishing, and read my guidebook. I was trying to finish reading it so I could decide which places in Japan I wanted to visit. A Japanese gentleman came up and started talking. He was 71 years old, and was a retired airman from the Japanese navy who had fought Americans in World War II. I asked where he had fought, and he said New Guinea and Australia (which are the places where my father had fought the Japanese). I asked what the Japanese thought of Americans; he hesitated, and I asked if they had mixed feelings, and he agreed. After the war, he worked closely with Americans since the US and Japanese Navy stations were together in Yokohama, where he was from. He said he liked MacArthur because MacArthur was fair and helped the Emperor. He volunteered that he liked Bush, because he was decisive, but didn't like Clinton because he felt Clinton was indecisive. I asked what he thought of young people, and he shook his head. He said he liked Japan the way it used to be, not all the changes. He had ridden there on a motorcycle and was waiting for a friend; I took a picture of him with his motorcycle before I left to catch the boat.
I took the "pirate" ship back across the lake to Hakone-Machi and walked through the woods near the water to see the Hakone Detached Palace Garden. It was a nice hike up the hill in the woods, but there wasn't much to see there -- a two-story rectangular building with a few old photographs. One photo, however, showed a building with its Japanese roof on the ground as a result of the big 1923 earthquake.
I walked on to the next town around the lake, Motohakone, past some beautiful tall cedar trees that had been planted along the old Kyoto-Edo road. As I approached the town, along the waterfront was a stand selling roasted squid, so I tried one of the small whole ones. It was rather chewy. While I was chewing on it, some junior high school girls came up and wanted to practice their English. Then another group came up and also walked to talk. Then their teacher came up and thanked me for being willing to talk to the students.
I walked on through the town to the Hakone Shrine, founded in 757. While I was there a priest and three people wearing black came out of the temple and went into the cemetery behind it, where they burned some incense at a grave. Most of the graves in Japanese cemeteries have a place to burn incense. I took a trail behind the temple a quarter mile to see a section of the original stone-paved highway from Kyoto to Edo. It was uncomfortable walking on the large stones, so I didn't walk very far. The stones were used to keep the road passable during winter snows.
I took the bus to Odawara, where I caught a train back to Tokyo. Since my Hakone Free Pass was good all the way into Shinjuku and it was only mid-afternoon, I went all the way into the city. I went to the Tokyo main subway station and asked at several locations until I found where they handled Japan Rail Passes. I had bought the coupons in the US, but had to exchange them for the actual passes here. I now have two three-week passes dated so they will run from Sunday June 13 through July 24 when I leave Japan.
I also took the subway to the Tourist Information Office by the Ginza station, where I picked up maps and information sheets for two dozen places around Japan. I then walked around Ginza, which is the major shopping area of the city by day. It has a couple of wide boulevards with large department stores. On side streets nearby there are smaller shops and many bars and expensive nightclubs. I was starved, and figured that the restaurants would be very expensive there, so I ate a sandwich at a Japanese fast food place. The sandwich had fish inside, but instead of bread it had rice cakes made of sticky rice (not dry like the rice cakes in the US).
When I passed the Sony building, there was a wall of TV screens and a TV camera. A woman asked me if I would be willing to record a wedding greeting for the princess. So I said to the camera "Congratulations princess, and greetings from the people of Los Angeles." The TV screens showed similar greetings from others passing by.
I found a bookstore and bought a small Japanese-English dictionary. I had wanted one when I was in Hakone, since my phrase book didn't list many words. I also found an inexpensive Japanese pub and had a beer while I watched the cook behind the bar boil various food items in broth. He was flattered when I asked to take his picture, as most Japanese are. My guidebook had said that if you are lucky you might see a geisha rushing to an appointment in that neighborhood. On one of the side streets I did see two of them wearing kimonos and sandals carrying parasols, in so much of a hurry that I didn't have time to photograph either of them. With that, I felt I had seen what I had come to see, so I took the subway and train back to my apartment at Obirin.
FRIDAY JUNE 11
I wrote 17 postcards and mailed them to relatives and friends. Then I took the train back into Tokyo to see the Imperial Palace. You cannot go inside the Palace, but can see it from a gate by the moat. Next to it is the East Palace Garden, but it was closed that day.
So I took the subway to Asakusa to see the Sensoji Temple. While I was riding the subway I was lucky enough to find a seat, and sat next to an elderly Japanese woman who started talking to me. She had been an exchange student in Santa Clara many years ago. I not only stick out because I am tall, but also because I am non-Asian. I see so few non-Asians (maybe two a day when I'm traveling around), that I do a double-take when I see one. Often they will nod to acknowledge me as another non-Asian. I am so used to seeing Japanese faces, that I even did a double take one day when I unexpectedly saw myself in a mirror in a restaurant. I now have a better sense of what it's like to be a minority person in America, but it's different because I am treated politely here.
Incidentally, sometimes people stereotype members of other races as looking all alike; but in spite of the relative isolation of Japan compared with other countries, there is endless variation in Japanese facial features. I see many faces for long periods of time while riding subways and trains here. The young people generally look happy, and often are listening to cassette players or discplayers. The middle-age people are usually expressionless, often reading a book or a one-inch thick comic book. Some people catnap.
It's hard for me to read on the trains and subways because they are usually crowded. Even when it's not rushhour people are packed in. One in the afternoon and ten at night can be just as crowded in the subway cars as five PM -- there just aren't as many people left on the platform waiting for the next train. The subways and trains here are more like subways in New York than they are like the trains in Denmark. So instead of a pleasant short ride into Copenhagen, it's a long crowded jostle into Tokyo.
The Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo, dating from 628, although it was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt in 1958. In sharp contrast to the tranquility in the forest surrounding the Meiji shrine, this place was like a circus. Between the outer gate and the inner gate, there was a shopping arcade! I looked at the Yukata (Japanese bathrobes) there, and found one that I liked and bought. I also found a printed handkerchief that showed various kinds of sushi, with the names in both Japanese and English.
As I walked between the shops and the temple four separate groups of junior high students stopped me. They were there on a field trip and had an assignment to interview foreigners in English and take their picture with the foreigner. It was fun talking to them, as they worked together to phrase their questions, or read their questions from a script. One group gave me their name cards (which is what Japanese adults do when they are introduced), so I have their addresses if a friend's Junior Girl Scouts are interested in having Japanese pen pals.
After seeing the temple and the smaller old Asakusa Shrine next to it, I returned to Obirin. At 6 there was a Welcome Party for the visiting anthropologist and me. I talked with a faculty member who taught history, and some of the students who are attending my lectures, including the young woman who will be an exchange student at Whittier this fall. She and her friends wanted to take me to see a Kabuki performance (classical Japanese play), so they will get more information about it and talk to me in class.
At the end of the party, one of the persons still left suggested going into Fuchinobe to drink beer and play pool. While we were playing, one of the English teachers explained to me some of the verbal interaction going on between a Japanese graduate student and two undergraduate women. In Japanese there are various forms of address for addressing people of higher or lower social status. Hence language is used to recognize a rigid social hierarchy at Japanese universities - e.g., professors, instructors, graduate students, undergraduates. You find some of the same status distinctions at US universities, which may be recognized by titles such as Professor, Doctor, Mr., and first names. But the social distinctions and deference patterns are much stronger in Japanese universities and throughout Japanese society more generally.
SATURDAY JUNE 12
I slept in, then wrote on this journal. When I got dressed I realized that I didn't have any clean socks left. So I figured out how to use the small washing machine in my apartment. It's not automatic, so you have to step it through the wash cycle. Since I was familiar with the wash cycle in our washing machine at home, from having repaired it several times, I knew what a typical wash cycle should be like. Of course, all of the labels are written in Japanese, so I just turned dials and knobs and saw what happened, and came up with the following:
You put clothes in the tub on the left. and add soap. You turn a knob to close the drain. Then you turn on the water faucets to fill the tub. When full, you turn off the faucets, and turn a dial to start washing. It has a water jet that circulates the water and clothes like a Jacuzzi. After the timer runs down 15 minutes you open the drain, wait while the water runs out, then close the drain and open the faucets to fill with rinse water. Since there was some writing next to the 4-minute mark on the timer dial, I set that for the rinse. Then I drained it and filled it for a second rinse period.
Then I put the clothes into the small tub on the right side. I pushed the lever that directed the water into that tub, and let it run during the first part of the timer cycle, until the timer came to some more writing, then I turned off the water while the small tub spinned out the water. I don't know if this is exactly the right procedure, but it cleaned the clothes, didn't leave soap in them, and left them wrung out of most of the water.
Since it was too crowded to put all of my dirty clothes in at once, I ran through the whole procedure a second time. The problem is that you have to babysit the washer for an hour in order to step it through a complete cycle.
After two cycles it was time to catch the train to Yokohama. But my socks from the first cycle weren't dry yet, so I wore my shoes without socks. I felt silly, but I figured that was better than wearing wet socks. When I was standing I let my pants hang low enough to cover my ankles. But when I sat on the subway my ankles were showing. I thought that people would be more likely to notice my height and my non-Asian features, but some young people across from me did notice my lack of socks and started laughing. So I put my backpack on the floor in front of my feet! It's funny how something like that can embarrass you. Of course, the Japanese are used to Gaijin (foreigners) doing strange things, and in fact as a foreigner you can get away with things that Japanese cannot get away with doing.
My friend from graduate school had invited me back to Yokohama to join him and a Japanese friend for lunch and a visit to the Yokoham Museum of Art. We went to an Italian restaurant for lunch. Like other foreign restaurants, this was run by Japanese and had Japanese influences in the food. I had cream of corn soup (which I had never seen in Italy) and a pasta dish which had small pieces of squid. The Japanese friend ordered a pizza but didn't want all of it so my American friend and I tasted it too. It had a very thin crust, some tomato sauce, some chopped tomatoes, white cheese, and thin slices of pumpkin! The pumpkin was sweeter than American pumpkins. My American friend said that pumpkin was used in many dishes in Japan. I never saw pumpkin anywhere in Europe, except for the canned pumpkin we bought in the American import store in Copenhagen for Thanksgiving!
At the museum there was a special exhibit of paintings from the Louvre in Paris. The titles of the paintings were in French, and in Japanese phonetic symbols spelling the French words. But I could read most of the titles, or figure them out by looking at the title and the picture. I enjoyed the painting techniques in the paintings very much (e.g., the use of shadow and light), even though viewing them in a slow moving crowd was almost like being in a Tokyo subway car. I was much more aware of the crowdedness of Tokyo after having been in the national forest in Hakone.
The Japanese friend had to go home to prepare dinner, my American friend and I walked through a shopping district up the hill to the Bluff. This is where foreigners lived when Yokohama was opened to foreigners in 1853. There was an old cemetery there with a nice view of the city. In a park nearby were the brick foundations of a house destroyed in the 1923 earthquake. A couple of blocks away there was a beautiful night view of the harbor and the new Yokohama Bridge. It's similar in construction to the new bridge in Riga, Latvia.
We took the subway to Konandai, and went to a family Sushi restaurant there. There were booths and a counter surrounding a middle area where two cooks were preparing the Sushi. On a ledge just above the counter and booths was a conveyor belt, which was a small version of the airport luggage conveyor belts. On it were various dishes of sushi. You take a dish as it comes around. When you are finished, they total up the number of different kinds of plates to figure your bill. (One plate design is worth 100 yen, another 150, etc.).
I was glad I had bought the handkerchief which showed the different kinds of sushi. In addition to the kind with seaweed wrapped around rice with some tidbit in the center, there were many kinds which had a small amount of sticky rice topped with a dap of green horseradish and a piece of raw fish or seafood. I tried red tuna (it melts in your mouth), scallop (also very good), large clam (it's a little chewy), prawn (it was cooked), and smoked eel (similar to smoked salmon). All of these were very fresh so they didn't taste fishy. I also had some octopus salad (chopped with mayonnaise and wrapped in seaweed), which I liked, and some yellow-brown creamy roe (fish eggs) which I didn't like at all. I didn't try the other kinds of larger roe (caviar) because I generally don't like their texture or saltiness.
SUNDAY JUNE 13
After I talked with my wife on the phone, my friend and I went back to Kamakura to see more of the temples. It's such a beautiful area in the forest on the side of a mountain, in contrast to the urban expanse of Tokyo. First we went back to the Meigetsu-in Temple famous for its Hydrangea to see if they were in bloom yet; some were, so it was quite beautiful. But it wasn't peaceful like it was the previous Sunday; indeed, there were many people swarming all over Kamakura that day. On the way to and from the temple there were stands selling all kinds of souvenirs. I found a pretty scarf with stylized purple Hydrangeas on it that I thought my wife and my mother would like.
We then went to the Kenchoji Temple. It had several wooden structures, including the largest wooden temple in Eastern Japan. The Japanese roofs were very picturesque. There were some ancient cedar trees with interesting features too. I watched a priest giving instruction to worshippers in the main temple.
We then went to the most famous shrine in Kamakura, the Tsuruguoka Hachimangu Shrine. It had a very strong Chinese influence, with the wood painted red instead of natural wood like most other temples and shrines. There were carved animal and human figures on doors and archways.
By then we were starved, but there were no food stands around. However, near the temple were snack foods, including cups of ramen noodles, so we had that. Also nearby was the Kamakura Museum which had a special exhibit of images of Buddha, which turned out to be statues from India. Buddhism had come to Japan from India via China and Korea, along the Silk Road (route of silk trading across Asia).
On the way back to the train station we stopped at the Jufuki temple. The temple was closed, but I was fascinated by the paper stickers and small pieces of wood attached to the gate. I had seen them on other temples and shrines before too. There was a Japanese man and woman talking nearby, so my friend asked them about it since he knows some Japanese. She referred to them with a name that meant "gate stickers" but they didn't know what they were for. While we were talking, three men approached; the youngest one knew English -- he was an Exchange student from Tapei. Through his translation, we learned from one of the other men that these stickers were names of people and business that were placed there for good luck. That's what I had guessed, but I wanted to make sure. Inside of temples there are often pieces of wood the size of paddles hanging from the rafters which have the names of deceased persons, while these stickers had the names of people who were living.
We took the train back to Konandai and stopped at a department store on the way to my friend's apartment. Inside were three supermarkets, containing all sorts of deli items. I looked at some of the meat prices -- one steak was 1200 yen per 100 grams, which is about $50 a pound! Beef is imported to Japan. [The only cows I later saw in Japan were up north in Hokkaido.]
MONDAY JUNE 14
I took the train back to Obirin and prepared my third lecture notes. I read and recorded the handouts from my previous class sessions, and read part of a book on Japanese slang that I had found in a bookstore in Yokohama. Many foreign linguists think that Japanese is not rich in slang, because Japanese linguists think it's impolite to tell about such words. But in fact, Japanese has a rich vocabulary of slang words, insults, and deviant subculture words. The book is amusing because it traces the origins of the terms from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or American euphemisms. I think my wife's father would enjoy the book so I'll look for another copy.
My third lecture was on group dynamics. The students were not as responsive as they were during the first two class sessions. I don't think they were as interested in the topic, and I talked more about classic social psychology studies than I had before. After class, however, two of the students came up and suggested that we go get something to eat (I had talked to them at the Welcome Party Friday). They and three other students and I went out for Japanese noodles. I enjoyed talking with the students, and learning about their foreign experiences. All are in the School of International Studies, and two have studied in the US and one plans to study in England next year.
TUESDAY JUNE 15
My wife called early to discuss what she found out about tires for our van. There wasn't time enough to go on an outing so I read awhile and wrote in my diary. I met the CIS secretary at 12:30 and we took trains and subways into Tokyo to the American Center building for the visiting anthropologist's lecture. We had to change trains about 5 times to get there, which took two hours.
We arrived half an hour early so we had time to explore the Zojoji Temple which was across the street. I was impressed by the brass decorations hanging from the ceiling.
On the temple grounds was a tree planted by President Grant and another tree planted by President Bush. When President Clinton visits Tokyo soon he will also be speaking at the American Center.
There were about 60 people at the talk. A dozen were from Obirin, including several anthropology professors. One of the students that I had dinner with Monday was there, and said that he and his friends would like to have dinner with me again. Others there included journalists and professors from Tokyo University. On each chair was a portable radio which we could use to listen to the proceedings in either English or Japanese. Behind a glass wall in the corner were two translators; one translated all the Japanese into English while the other translated all the English into Japanese.
After some introductions in Japanese, the speaker spoke in English about Multiculturalism and contrasted it with Anthropology. Anthropology takes a holistic approach trying to understand all aspects of a culture, putting everything into a broader context. Multiculturalism has come to be a political ideology in which minority groups try to seek power. He argued that multiculturalists often take a superficial approach to understanding other cultures, focusing narrowly on political agendas. Anthropology has much to offer as an approach for understanding other cultures. He noted the tension between diversity and unity -- in order for various cultural groups to get along in a society, they must agree on certain core values which allow each group to accept the other groups. This generated a question from the audience about whether Islam can be included-- because Islam historically does not accept any other religion and insists on Islam controlling the state. There were many other good questions too, all in Japanese (which was translated).
After the talk was over, those of us from Obirin (except the students) went across the street to a hotel for a drink. Then we took taxis to the harbor and boarded a cruise ship for a two-hour dinner cruise around the harbor. We had a private dining room with fancy table settings with silverware -- the ship had a French name Vingt et un. The first course was a green salad with raw tuna. The second course was cream of carrot soup. The main course was some very tender beef with small pieces of vegetables. The dessert plate had a slice of guava, two lichi nuts with the outer covering split, a scoop of raspberry sherbert, and a small layer cake. We also had two wines, a rose and a red. The wines were so-so but the food was suburb.
During the dessert two men entered and sang songs in French. One played an accordion and the other played a guitar. After the dinner cruise, three of us were put in a
a cab for the long ride back to Obirin. I think the rest went home by train, since they live in various places and commute to Obirin. The taxi ride was interesting since it was the first time I had been on the freeway in Tokyo -- it was crowded like rush hour at 9 PM at night! The ride home took about an hour and a half.
WEDNESDY JUNE 16
I prepared my fourth lecture notes and made plans for weekend travelling. My fourth lecture was on Educational Systems, and students responded well. I talked about American schools, classroom expectations, and relationships between teachers and students. And I asked them about how Japan was similar or different. In general, Japanese schools are similar in grade structure, since their educational system was rebuilt after World War II. So they have elementary school, junior high, high school, and college as in America, unlike the European system.
One major difference is that students need to take an examination to get into high school, as well as examinations to get into college. For college, there are national exams for public schools, plus many private schools have their own exams. The college exams are not just on aptitude (like SAT exams in the US), but cover specific academic fields. It is quite expensive to take the private exams -- as much as $1000. Students can't retake the national exams, but could take another exam given by a private school.
So the students are under tremendous pressure to prepare for the exams while they are in junior high and high school. Often they attend expensive private classes after school and on Saturdays to cram for the exams.
Once they are in college, however, they can relax if they don't plan to attend graduate school. In the US colleges require maintaining a 2.0 (C) average; here they only need to pass the courses with a D or better. So this is a fun time for many of them between the stresses of high school and the stresses of working for a company.
One way some students deal with these stresses is by dropping out. A student later brought me a copy of an article from the Japan Quarterly (July-September, 1990) in which Kurita Wataru discussed the problem of "School Phobia." It said that in addition to their emphasis on exams, Japanese schools are very rigid. The article noted that some schools specify not only proper clothing and hairstyles, but also how to raise your hand, how far to bow, and in what order to eat your lunch. In addition, students are discouraged from asking questions in class. A student was quoted "I'm tired of the way grown-ups impose their own ideas and feelings on me and ignore my ideas and feelings." The article stated that Japanese schools are geared to fostering the group mentality. Schools do not encourage individuals to form and act on their own ideas. Unfortunately, many American schools tend to be the same way, and our dropout rates are even higher than Japanese dropout rates.
Another problem in the schools, which I had previously read about in a newspaper article, is that of kids bullying other kids, which occurs around the world. One parent in Japan sued the school, because they did nothing about it. This was unusual since the Japanese rarely sue about anything.
After class six of the students wanted to have dinner with me. I enjoyed talking with them about attending college in the US.
After the students left to commute home, I went by the School for International Studies building to see if any teachers were still around. The door was locked, but I ran into two Korean students by the soda machine outside. They had left Korea to seek more opportunities. Their dream is to make lots of money after school so they can go to America. One seemed happy, but the other seemed depressed. I felt sorry for them, because their chances of being very successful in Japan are limited because they are Korean.
Koreans were originally brought to Japan as slave laborers, so historically their status was similar to Black persons in America, although it is easier for them to blend in. In fact, I learned from another professor while on the dinner cruise that genetic studies have found that the Japanese are not as genetically distinct from other Asians as they believe. Their gene pool includes mixtures of about one-third Chinese, one-third Korean, and one-sthird another group. Interestingly, these eastern Asians have the same genetic signatures as Native Americans. In a recent court case in America a man tried to claim Native American benefits based on an analysis of his genetics; the court concluded that he had either Native American or Asian blood, but the court couldn't tell which. This of course supports the theory that Native Americans had migrated from Asia to Alaska thousands of years ago.
THURSDAY JUNE 17
In the morning I went to a doctor to get my allergy shot. The graduate student who works at CIS drove me in to Machida. I asked the young doctor if they used allergen antigens in Japan, and he said no; they use antihistamines. (Many US doctors have the same attitude). But his nurse gave me the shots of the antigens I had brought, and there was no problem.
Next door to the doctor's office I saw a wall hanging in the window, which I decided to buy. It showed people in ancient Japanese clothing crossing a famous bridge in Tokyo with Mt. Fuji in the background. I had been wanting something like that and this was nicer than the ones I had seen in tourist places for the same price ($18).
The graduate student dropped me off at the train station and I took the train to Kawasaki (halfway to Tokyo). In a large park was Nihon Minka-En, an open-air museum of 23 old buildings brought from all over Japan. They dated from 1600 on. There were farm houses and merchant houses and a flour mill, in different styles. Most had thatched roofs, with the straw tied to bamboo eaves which were lashed together using ropes. The main wall and ceiling supports were large wooden beams, cut to interlock without nails.
Some roofs were extra steep, so heavy snow would fall off. Some houses were off the ground to keep rodents away. Some had sliding doors, while others were more closed in due to the cold. They had fire pits and interesting ovens inside. Some also had stables for horses inside. I also saw looms for making tatami mats of straw.
While there were distinctively Japanese features, like tamati mats, and sometimes a bamboo floor, there were similarities to the open-air museums in Lyngby, Denmark and Plymouth, Massachusetts. I enjoyed it very much, and decided that I want to go see some other open-air museums in the Japanese alps; I'll go there first when my lectures are over. This decision was reinforced by a book I bought at the museum which had drawings of old buildings in their natural settings -- in the mountains and at the seashore. The scenes were beautiful. [I later visited 5 other open-air museums in various locations in Japan, which I enjoyed very much.]
As I wandered out of the park I saw a woman feeding two roosters, and thought my wife's folks would appreciate that. I also came to a small museum on the geology and biology of the area -- there was a skeleton of a small mastodon, and when a Japanese woman walked by a recording of a roar happen to play and she jumped!
Since it was only 3:30 I took the train into Shinjuku and went to the bookstore again. I wanted to learn more about Japanese writing, which I will describe in the section separated by lines.
I found a small book on learning the phonetic characters, and two other books on kanji (Chinese characters). One book uses drawings to illustrate the meanings of the 300 of the most important kanji, while the other book presents with fewer drawings all 2000 kanji taught in the Japanese schools. These 2000 kanji represent 98% of those used in Japanese writing.
The kanji used by the Japanese were developed in China between 200 BC and 200 AD. The word kanji refers to characters (ji) from the Han Dynasty (kan in Japanese). Since Chinese is monosyllabic, while Japanese is polysyllabic, the Japanese had to add other characters to indicate things like verb endings. So they used simplifications of Chinese characters phonetically, which developed into the two phonetic alphabets used today, katakana for Japanese words and hiragana for foreign words.
The katakana and hiragana are for vowels, not single sounds. Each represents a consonant and with one of five vowels, such as ka ki ku ke ko. Japanese words usually cannot have two consonants together, they must have vowels in between. Nor can a word end in a consonant. So a borrowed word like "sport" should be pronounced something like "su por tu," and my last name "Hill" is pronounced something like "he ru" since l is pronounced similar to an l in English.
When kanji are used as separate words, they say the Japanese words that correspond to their meaning. But when kanji are used with other kanji to make compound words, often they pronounce the Chinese words. For example, the symbol for one is a dash, representing a single outstretched finger. (Two is two lines on top of each other, and three is three lines in a stack; interestingly, the Chinese used horizontal lines, while the Romans used vertical lines for 1, 2, and 3). In Japanese, one is "hito", but in Chinese the word is "Ichi". In the expression "one person" the Japanese word is used "hitori," but in the compound "first month" (for January) the Chinese word is used "Ichigatsu." So you need to learn both the Japanese and Chinese words for the kanji symbols!
Right now I'm focusing on the meaning of the symbols without worrying about the pronunciation in either Japanese or Chinese. I decided to learn some of the kanji for two reasons. As I travel around Japan it would help to be able to read more signs, train schedules, menus, etc. Also, being in Japan makes me want to see more of Asia -- and the same kanji are used in China, Korea, and elsewhere.
However, the Japanese have fixed the kanji they use, by prescribing what is taught in the schools. When they invent or borrow new words, they use old kanji with different phonetic characters, or they use just phonetic characters. But the Chinese have continued to invent new kanji, and the meanings of some kanji changed while Japan was isolated from 1636-1853. So while these 2000 kanji suffice for Japan, there are many more kanji in use in China. Indeed, more than 50,000 Chinese characters have been invented, although many are obsolete.
I had dinner in a yakitori in Shinjuku. That's a pub which serves chicken on a skewer. I then took the train back to my apartment. On the way, a group of four young teenagers got on the train who were very drunk. That's another way in which Japanese students deal with the stresses of school. One became sick and threw up in front of me (fortunately missing me). The others tried to clean up the mess, and they all got off at the next station. Absolutely no one else batted an eyelash -- no disapproval, no sympathy, no reaction at all. I think it was not only politeness, but also acceptance of a common event. I was warned to avoid the last subway train at night, because it is called the "puke train."
I saw many happy Danes on the night buses in Copenhagen, but I never saw any of them acting really drunk or getting sick. I've learned that the Japanese can't express disagreement at work, but they can express disagreement when they are drunk, with alcohol as an excuse for being impolite. So most of the real discussion and business negotiating takes place in the bars after work, with bosses, coworkers, or clients. Workers are expected to go drinking after work 2 or 3 nights a week.
The trains were so full of businessmen in suits at 8-10 PM at night, that I had to stand the entire two hours on the way home on the train and bus. I was so tired of standing. Tokyo seemed more crowded to me after being away from the city the weekend before. I like the Japanese people very much, and I like the scenery, art, and historical sites of Japan very much, but there are aspects of Japanese society that I do not like. Commuting two hours to work, working late, riding crowded subways, being unable to express disagreement except when drunk, and rigid rules of etiquette would be extremely stressful. The Japanese apparently don't like these things either, but most are resigned to accept them. However, some students see going to study in America as a way of escaping some of this and having more freedom.
As a gaijin (foreigner) I am not subject to all the rules, while still being treated politely. So being a foreigner is the best way to live in Japan, even though there are certain bars and restaurants where foreigners are not welcome, and those foreigners who work here have limited opportunities for advancement.
FRIDAY JUNE 18
I took an early train from Fuchinobe to Shin-Yokohama, and was literally pressed in on all sides by the rush hour crush. When the train lurched, we lurched, but couldn't fall because we were packed like sardines. I then used my Japan Rail Pass to get a reserved seat on a Skinhansen (bullet train) into Tokyo station, riding in a comfortable first class car with plenty of leg room. It was a pleasant 15 minute ride, instead of 30 minutes more of being crushed.
I didn't have time to get a reserved seat for the next train (and didn't realize I could have gotten both reservations at once), so I rode in the second class unreserved car for an hour on another shinkansen up to Utsunomiya. It had 3+2 seats in a row instead of 2+2 as in first class, and there wasn't quite enough leg room. So it's worth getting a first class seat reservation when I can.
I then transferred to a commuter train for an hour to Nikko. There I went to the Toshio Shrine, dedicated to the Shogun (military leader) who united Japan by defeating fighting feudal lords and then closed off Japan in 1636. He is the one featured in the novel Shogun by John Clavell, which was made into the TV miniseries.
The shrine was incredibly beautiful. There was a white gate with gold trim with many carved figures, called the "Twilight Gate" because it would take all day until twilight to look at all the figures. On one of the buildings was the original carving of the three monkeys "hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil"! I bought a small brass carving of the three monkeys for my mother and a small wooden carving of the monkeys for my wife's father.
Next to that shrine complex were two other shrine complexes -- one dedicated to the grandson of the Shogun, who had built the Toshugo shrine for his grandfather.
Since it was raining, I wasn't sure how well my pictures would turn out, so I bought some sets of postcards to keep. Also, my camera battery died, but a gift shop next to the temple carried camera batteries -- of course, you can buy film and disposable cameras everywhere in Japan. There are even vending machines selling them ($8 for film and $20 for a disposable camera; compared to $4.40-$5.00 for 36 exposure film in Tokyo).
I then walked toward the arboretum, but it was about to close. I considered walking 2 km to see the Jakko falls, but I was tired and I still had to walk over a mile to the Youth Hostel.
I stayed at the Nikko Youth Hostel. It cost only $38 for lodging, dinner, and breakfast. In restaurants it costs about $30 for dinner and breakfast alone! It had a dining room with two uncomfotable sofas and several tables with four chairs each. There was a TV set, which had ABC news in English on cable, and there were English-language
newspapers from Tokyo.
I talked with a woman from New Zealand, who was about 60. She was a potter, who had been staying with friends who were potters in Japan. This was her third trip to Japan, and she knew some Japanese. But she didn't have a guidebook, so I wondered how she knew where to go. I had dinner with her, a Japanese man about 40 who was friendly but knew little English, and a young Japanese woman who knew no English. Dinner included salad, Japanese noodle soup, a chicken leg, other meat, vegetables, and rice; it was a lot of food. I was afraid it might be skimpy since the price was so cheap (the dinner part of the cost was $8, which is the price of a large bowl of Japanese noodle soup alone).
I talked with the New Zealand woman more after dinner, and enjoyed hearing her impressions of Japan, but she chain-smoked the whole time. She said that Japanese are not supposed to show anger. When they are drunk they can criticize, but they are still not supposed to show anger.
There were bunk beds for sleeping, six bunks per room, with separate halls for men and women. The Japanese man and I shared a room. I took a shower before going to bed instead of in the morning so that my towel could dry overnight.
[As I traveled around Japan later, I usually stayed in youth hostels. They are much cheaper than hotels, and it is easier to meet other travelers in the lounge and eating areas. Half of the youth hostels were in Buddhist temples, sleeping on tatami mats!]
SATURDAY JUNE 19
After a large western-style breakfast (scrambled egg, slice of meat, bread, jam, fruit) I walked to the train station to catch a bus to Lake Chuzenji. I saw a group of college students assembling bicycles which they had brought in canvas bags on the train. I asked if they were a club, and they said they were, from Tokyo University. They were going to ride up the mountain to the Lake.
Well, the mountain road has 20 hairpin curves, and took the bus an hour to go about 15 miles. So it would be a tremendous challenge by bike! When I got to the bus stop near the lake, I walked 5 minutes to see Kegon Falls. Its 300 feet long, and it is beautiful. After viewing the falls near the top, I took an elevator down to a viewing platform near the bottom. There was fog around the mountainside that drifted in and out, making it look like a Japanese or Chinese mountain painting. It was incredibly beautiful.
Of course, on the viewing platform was a vending machine for film and disposable cameras, and the inevitable gift shop. As I walked from the falls toward the Lake I wondered why there were so many gift shops, all selling similar items (candy, trinkets, etc.). I learned later that Japanese tourists are supposed to bring back candy and trinkets for their coworkers. So when a tour bus pulls up all the shops have business.
I saw an international phone booth
and called home. My daughter
answered -- the scenery there was the kind she would appreciate. After saying hi
to my wife and
son and hanging up, I walked half a block, and saw a group of monkeys on the sidewalk! They were begging for food. There were three mothers with nursing babies clinging to their breasts. There also were two juveniles. I had read that there were monkeys in the area, which is why they were depicted on the shrine in Nikko.
I walked around the end of the lake, and passed a small festival being set up by a science group. They had fish in aquariums, microscopes, and food cooking. They were roasting trout on sticks around a fire.
Half a mile later I came to the Chuzenji Temple. It had a beautiful view of fog hanging over the mountains across the lake. The bell tower was open, so I was able to go upstairs inside and ring the large bell by swaying the small log on a rope! I've been wanting to do that every time I 've seen a temple bell!
On the way back from the temple I stopped at a noodle restaurant. While I was there the owner became angry at a group of Japanese men and raised his voice at them. I don't know what he was mad about, but it surprised me to hear the raised voice.
I walked on to a bus stop and caught a bus to the end of the lake and up the mountain to Ryuzu Falls. That was not as spectacular the long drop of Kegon Falls, but it was very powerful as the water split and came crashing down the rocks. The name of the falls means dragons head! Nearby was a small shrine with a Buddha with a dragon. In the inevitable gift shop next door I found a small wall hanging for my son which had a dragon, a bird, and a tiger. I walked up the path along the side of the waterfall all the
way to the top. There I discovered a bus stop, so I rode the bus all the way back to Nikko, down the hairpin curves.
In Nikko I was delighted to be able to read the name Nikko in kanji on the signs all over town! Nikko means sunlight. The kanji for sun is an upright rectangle with a horizontal line through it; originally it was a circle with a dot on the middle, but it became a square when brushes were used to draw it. The kanji for light has a horizontal line with three marks fanned above it representing fire, and what looks like an italic I and L below the line connected to it, representing legs. Together the symbols for fire and legs represent a man carrying a torch which provides light. So the kanji capture Chinese ways of thinking 2000 years ago, and are delightful to read when you understand them.
It was mid-afternoon, and I had seen all I wanted to see there. Plus the youth hostel was booked with a group for that night. I wasn't ready to go back to Tokyo, so I took the train back to Utsunomiya and caught a shinkansen train an hour north to Sendai. It was nice to stretch my legs and relax. I had bought a bento (boxed Japanese lunch containing sushi) in the train station before boarding the bullet train, so I ate that and drank a beer I bought from a woman pushing a beverage cart on the train.
The train passed through many hills with patches of rice paddies in between. In the distance were mountains. It was quite beautiful. However, it also passed through industrial cities which were not very beautiful, like sections of Tokyo.
In Sendai I transferred to a commuter train and rode 45 minutes to Matsushima, considered one of the three most scenic spots in all Japan. Matsu means pine, and shima means land. The kanji for pine is the symbol for a tree next to the symbol for something giving off spirits or aroma -- so a pine is a tree with a strong aroma! Another kanji I like and my wife would appreciate is the one for rest or vacation -- it has a symbol for a person next to a symbol for a tree!
It was still raining and now dark when I got off the train at the Nobiru station. I had to walk about a mile down to the beach and through a pine forest to the youth hostel. They didn't have any sofa, so I sat at a table and talked to another guest, who was a senior majoring in chemistry at Yamagata University not far away. He had been practice teaching at a high school. After awhile another guest arrived. He was from London, about 30. Another Japanese man showed up. He didn't speak English, so he watched soccer in Japanese on TV. I ended up sharing a room with him; again there were bunkbeds. But this time the futon on the bunkbed was thin, so it was like sleeping on a board. The futon on the bunkbed in Nikko was three inches think and more comfortable.
SUNDAY JUNE 20
After breakfast I walked down to the beach, since I had almost an hour before the next commuter train to the pier at Matsushimakaigon. Next to the pier was a small island with a small shrine connected by a bridge. A quarter mile away was a long bridge to a larger island. I walked across and around the island. From it I could see other islands out in the bay. I ran into two guys I had seen earlier on the small island -- I had noticed them because one was the only non-Asian I had seen that day. He was from France - a student from Montpelier who was studying robotics in Japan for 8 months. When he said "robotics" he said it with a Japanese accent instead of a French accent -- so it sounded like "lobotics." At first I thought "lobotomy" then I realized that he was saying it the Japanese way! Japanese have trouble saying L because there is no L in their language.
I walked back to the pier and beyond to the Zuiganji Temple. It had beautiful wall screens with gold background and drawings of dragons and warriors. In front of the temple were tall cedar trees, and along the sides were rocks with caves in which there were shrines.
Outiside the temple I had a nice lu ch with soup, rice, raw fish, and deep fried shrimp. I was starved so I decided to have a big lunch instead of just soup, and then eat a sandwich for dinner on the train.
Not far from the main temple was another temple with a small shrine dedicated to the 19-year old son of the man honored by the large temple. The son had been poisoned. Inside the shrine was a statue of the son on a horse, surrounded by retainers in a frame with flowers. It was quite beautiful. Nearby was a rose garden and a rock garden, in which the rocks are islands and the sand around them is raked to represent waves.
I walked back to the pier and caught a ferry boat which went out among the islands in the bay, and then took me to a train station two stops away. It was enjoyable. I could see some of the islands close up, and look through caves that went through the small islands. I then took the bullet train back to Tokyo, and the commuter train to Machida.
MONDAY JUNE 21
I prepared my fifth lecture notes, then met a Japanese woman for lunch, who had graduated from Whittier College in 1983. She took my Senior Seminar, and did a research project on student concerns. I still use the data from her project in the statistics class; I have students make predictions about what kinds of concerns students have, and then test their predictions by analyzing her data using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) on the college's VAX computer. She is now married and teaching Japanese to foreign students at Obirin.
My fifth lecture that afternoon was on Daily Routines -- daily living in families and college dorms in America. I asked them how their experiences differed. When they talked about their breakfast, one said that a common food is fermented soybeans, which has the consistency of the dripping slime in the movie Alien, and tastes awful! Their typical commute is 90 minutes each way, which doesn't leave them much time.
After class I talked to one of the students, who has a female friend who would like to stay with a host family in the US for 2-3 weeks next spring. I also talked to the psychologist at Obirin, and he said he has some friends in Hiroshima whom I should visit; he went to graduate school there. I had dinner with a teacher of English who had graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio, and asked him about the music program there to see if it was someplace that my daughter might be interested in. We went to dinner together, then we stopped by his apartment in the building of my apartmetn, so he could show me the workbook they use in teaching English as a second language here. They teach the classes in teams, so 2 or 3 people take turns teaching the same class each week. They tell each other which units they covered. They do it that way so students hear a variety of accents, and to accommodate the many part-time English instructors they have, who might teach only one class session a week. There are 15 full-time and 25 part-time instructors in the English Language Program.
JUNE 22 TUESDAY
I prepared my notes for my Open Lecture, and wrote diary entries for the weekend. The lecture was held in a different lecture hall, at the junior college part of Obirin. There were about a dozen teachers in addition to the students who've been attending my lectures plus a few other students. So there were probably about 75 people.
I talked about the Boston Couples Study as well as friendship. I think the lecture went well - I was enthusiastic, and there were some very good questions. Afterward there was a simple reception with cookies and tea and soda. About half stayed for that. Then the students that I had had dinner with before, took me by car to a beer garden for dinner in downtown Machida.
The beer garden was on the top floor of a department store by the train station. We paid a fixed amount ($30, a little steep) and then had all you can eat from a long buffet table for two hours. There were a variety of hot and cold Japanese and Chinese foods, most of which I had had before. It was fun talking and joking with them. I told them I was studying kanji and was amused at some of the characters, like spring. They didn't understand, because they had memorized the kanji in school without learning their origin. I could see why elementary schools wouldn't explain "spring" -- the character is based on the idea that spring is when animals mate, and the symbol includes a woman's open legs. Then one remembered that the kanji for prostitute includes the same symbol!
JUNE 23 WEDNESDAY
I had trouble sleeping, and kept waking up with mosquitoes buzzing around my head, so I slept in. When I looked in the mirror I found that I had a dozen mosquito bites on my forehead. I noticed that the bathroom window was slightly open, which was how they had gotten in.
I went through my guidebooks, maps, brochures, and other information, and decided which ones were worth lugging around for three weeks. I then typed up the notes for my sixth lecture, and wrote more diary entries. As I was about to leave for class, one of the students I had had dinner with stopped by on his way to class. He brought me a book from a national historical museum which had pictures of ancient artifacts and old maps, which he gave me.
In my last lecture here I talked about the incident in Louisiana in which a 16 year old Japanese exchange student had been killed. He and his American host were going to a party and had knocked on the door of the wrong house; the woman answering the door screamed when she saw him. Her husband got his gun, and ordered the boy to the freeze. The boy, not understanding the command, tried to run away and was shot. The man was tried for manslaughter but was found not guilty by reason of self-defense. The Japanese are frightened and angry - and rightly so. The boy did not threaten the people in any way. The Japanese can't understand why the man used a gun -- guns have been illegal in Japan for 400 years.
I discussed the case, and gave some relevant background. I also talked about various expressions, such as freeze, halt, and stick 'em up. Then I lectured on stereotypes -- why we used them and why it's so difficult to change them.
Since there was 20 minutes left, I asked them to discuss ways in which dating in Japan differed from what I had said about American dating on Tuesday. They said that they didn't do things in mixed-sex groups as much (which in America is a transition between same-sex groups and opposite-sex couples). Also, dating is not as casual here; going on a date implies a more serious relationship than first dates in America.
I also learned that arranged marriages still occur in Japan -- but they are more like introductions, because the two people have a choice about it. Even in the past the young people had veto power. These arranged marriages often work, because the people are matched on a variety of characteristics like those important in dating and marrage.in America.
At the end of the lecture, the CIS secretary presented me with flowers and gifts to thank me for the lecture series. The flowers were orchids and red roses (I've never been given flowers before!). The gifts were a nice watch and a pedometer, both with the emblem of Obirin. It turns out that that emblem is Christ's crown of thorns; it was adopted by the founder of Obirin, who had been a Japanese Christian missionary to China before founding Obirin. The crown includes three nails -- which is why my lectureship is called the Three Nails Fellowship.
I wanted pictures of the entire class, so I had them split into two groups for group photos. I'm going to miss them -- it was a good group, and I developed a lot of rapport with many of them.
After that we went to a party that the club for international studies sponsored. I met a professor, who had been to LA to do research, and a student who had been an exchange student in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After the party several of us walked half a mile to the Baskin Robbins to get some ice cream. In Japan the 31 flavors include Green Tea and also Black Bean. I was tired so I went to bed early.
THURSDAY JUNE 24
I wrote some postcards, and finished this so I could email it before hopping the train to Matsumoto in the Japanese Alps.
I plan to travel for about three weeks, so probably will not be sending diary entries during that time. I will be carrying only my daypack, and so won't bring the Powerbook computer along. I'll send home a few postcards instead.
I plan to head west to the Japan alps, then south to Kyoto and Nara, and farther southwest as time permits. I know what places I want to see, but I haven't had time to map out my full itinerary; I'll do that on the train.
I'll stop back at my apartment in Machida around July 14 or 15 to get my allergy shot, before heading up north to Sapporo to visit one of my students who is now a professor there. I'll spend the last couple of days here seeing additional sights in Tokyo - that way if I miss a train somewhere I won't be late getting back here for my flight home July 24.