Not For The Season

19 03 2009

Sakura, Kyoto, 3/17/2009

Spring has finally begun in Kyoto, and unlike the weekend of warm weather that served as an all-to-short break from the constant rain and chill of the last few months, it seems here to stay. I’ve honestly been a little bored at night, so I’ve been doing a lot of translation and taking late night bike rides. Late night bicycle rides are a pleasure in Kyoto, as in contrast to my native land, my chances of being run over or stabbed actually go down, instead of skyrocketing. One thing I noticed is that there’s cats everywhere. The alley I use to get out from my apartment complex is apparently full of them, as I discovered when I looked up and noticed there were at least three or four in a small niche formed between a wall and a overhanging roof. I opted not to photograph them- I wouldn’t be entirely enthusiastic about having a flash in my face that late at night either.

While Kyoto and Japan in general has as much crime in a year as the average American Denny’s does in a month, the city is not entirely law-abiding. I had the rare opportunity to see the results of some actual political activism on the side of a building located near our special gaijin class/leper colony located on the Kyoto University campus.

Kyodai graffiti, Kyoto, 3/12/09The graffiti is demanding an end to "5-year firing". I'm not particularly well versed in Kyoto University's personnel practices, so I'm not entirely sure what this means.

The graffiti is demanding an end to “5-year firing”. I’m not particularly well versed in Kyoto University’s personnel practices, so I’m not entirely sure what this means.

We’ve hardly gotten back to class from Spring Break and we’re already going on a number of excursions. Next week is our class trip to Hiroshima (and once again [for me, at least] to Miyajima) and this week we went to a Museum of Ethnology in Osaka. It’s mascot: apparently a giant, angry stone face.

Stone Face, Osaka, 3/16/09

This is about half my Japanese class.

This is about half my Japanese class.

I think this sign speaks for itself.

I think this sign speaks for itself.

The museum was slightly disappointing, primarily because it seemed our main objective in going there was to have a box recite a story to us in several Japanese dialects that only further reinforced that I have a long way to go before I understand even standard Japanese. Dialects in Japan are unlike American dialects in that it’s possible for two people to be speaking “Japanese” and still not understand each other. The dialects associated with different regions, such as Kansai and Hokkaido, resemble foreign languages more than, say, an American Southern accent. The museum did have some nice displays, however.

Ethnology Museum Display 1, Osaka, 3/16/2009Ethnology Museum, Osaka, 3/16/2009

On our way back we saw a now closed amusement park whose name, Expo Land, rather clearly highlights it’s place on the timeline.

Expo Land, Osaka, 3/16/2009

I’ll post next week on my class trip to Hiroshima, and possibly Miyajima again. Everybody loves seeing the same pictures of someones vacation, right?

Music I’m Listening to Now: Grizzly Bear, “Cheerleader”.