Sorry for the radio silence this past month. As most of you know, I was visiting home for the summer. It was nice to be home, but it's also nice to be... home. That's grammatically difficult in both English and Japanese. I've tried explaining all summer, "I'll go home on ~ and then I'll come home on ~" to Japanese and "I came home on~ and I'll go home on ~" to Americans. But I've never really differentiated between permanent and temporary homes. If I would be there more than a week, I'd call it home. I never got homesick at camp because I knew the house would still be there when I return - I did, however, get campsick because I didn't know if I could go back. I didn't miss Japan because I knew I'd be back soon - I don't want to think what state I'll be in when I have to leave for good.
I'll have a few days of relaxing and unpacking before school starts.
Along with teaching English in Japan jobs, I also considered teaching English in Russia. (To the point that people who didn't see me often were confused by the sudden destination shift.) I went with Japan because it was my new love at the time - and still - whereas Russian language after three years of studying it was like being half of an old married couple. Seeing this article gives me another reason to be grateful for that decision.
Perhaps I just missed television in general, or perhaps Japanese television in particular. Since I've been back:
One of the cooking/travel shows visited a tofu making shop, which was fascinating to begin with. Then they made something with thick pieces of tofu wrapped around slices of carrot and potato (I think). They wrapped this "tortilla" in a layer of large straws, tied them at the end like a piece of candy, and boiled the whole thing. The resulting food they cut into pretty slices like sushi. The outside edge of the tofu had a scalloped texture from the straws. It looked like a very interesting dish.
There was also a feature on the 2000 yen bill, which is about twenty dollars. Apparently they are as rare as the two dollar bill. They illustrated this with stick figures of an individual, a bank, and the printing company, and I'm not sure why but the banks send the bills back to the printing company rather than distributing them. Out of fifty people in Tokyo, only one had ever held one. In Okinawa, however, they are more common - perhaps because there is a picture of Shureimon, a famous landmark there. Out of fifty, seven people currently had them in their wallet. One old man had several. The host - with permission - flipped through his money. "Grandpa... why do you also have American dollars?"
One of the groups I like for their down-to-earth nature (sometimes literally) is TOKIO. They have a show where they take care of a village, a farm really, with all sorts of animals and crops and crafts going on. It's one of the most fascinating things on TV. Today they were looking in the surrounding woods for kabuto mushi, the rhinoceros beetle. It's a common hobby here for boys to keep them as pets. They found a few eggs, and put them in a special dirt hole with cameras trained on them. That's why I love this show, it's always showing the time-lapse view of melons swelling, seeds sprouting, all the things we don't have time to sit and watch. Even though I'm not a huge beetle fan, seeing this tiny white speck become an enormous black beetle, hard and shiny and horned, is impressive.
On a side note, I wonder if animal rights activists ever get on the case of people who make their bugs fight each other.