I picked up my renewed visa yesterday, so now I have a shiny new stamp valid for another year. If only I was certain that I had a shiny job and apartment to go with it. I also got a reentry permit - I don't know if I'll be able to go home during the summer but it's nice to keep the option open.
I've been having a mild sore-throat, sneezy, headachey thing. But it's given me an opportunity to try out all sorts of Japanese cough drops. Called "nodo ame," literally "throat candy," they are appropriately much more sweet than our version, with only a hint of that nauseating medicinal flavor. I've tried red fruit and green tea - both pleasant and normal - and then - quince and sesame - the former seemed most effective but I liked the latter best. The awesome thing about flavors in Japan is that if you like one thing as obsessively as I tend to, you can find it in any form. The yuzu citrus I think I've talked about before in drinks and dressings, and lately I'll eat sesame in ice cream and marinade alike. Bliss.
Of course everyone's worried about the economy, even scared , but for those who are downright angry this shrine has something that might help. Here visitors can hit and kick a statue of the "God of Poverty to relieve their frustration.
Though it's a bit worrisome to have a prime minister who can't read kanji, some good comes of it - popularity is rising for books about how to read kanji. Now if only he could make some embarrassing English mistakes that might make my students think, "Oh man, I don't want to make a fool of myself like that - I should study my English!" *daydreams...*
It's a bit hard to read because the text is small, but if you can this illustrated version of Murakami Haruki's "On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning" is very sweet.
The first Japanese group I became a fan of, Arashi, performs something almost but not entirely unlike music: