A couple weekends ago we attended a local festival called Danjiri Matsuri. A Danjiri is a giant wooden shrine on wheels. Matsuri apparently refers to "over a hundred people from the particular town hauling something all over creation and taking the corners at ridiculous speed." In addition to the danjiri themselves, there were plenty of vendors and festival food to try- roasted squid tentacle, grilled whole fish on a stick, fried Pikachu, you name it. We also spent entirely too much time with a wonderful if potentially crazy kimono shop owner. He gave us all discounts, which was nice, and he loaned Ben a pair of real-looking katana to have him stand in front of the shop and do publicity stunts... I'm still not sure how to assemble a slide show here (the whole back-end is in Japanese), but I'll try to transfer our pics from the trip onto Randon in the near future.
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."
quotation from The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams www.douglasadams.com
Unsurprisingly, the same holds true for getting around Japan. A towel is one of the more useful things you can have in your possession at most times. It is useful for, among other things, fashioning an impromptu gaijin twist-headband or turban, placing in your lap as a substitute for the traditional western napkin (Japanese napkins are tiny rectangles of nonabsorbant tissue paper measuring perhaps 6"x8" unfolded), mopping the sweat off your face after a few hours running around one city or another in the hot muggy pseudo-summer months, sheltering from the rain when you accidentally leave your umbrella at the office/apartment, or simply drying your hands (the bathrooms near the ETC office are strictly bring-your-own-towel). Traditional Japanese towels are not incredibly absorbant by western standards, so bring your own bath and beach towels if you want them. A small Japanese hand-towel, however, will suffice for day-to-day keeping-with-you, and should run no more than $3 (300 Yen) at a local convenience or souvenir store.
- Slide Show of ETC Spaces -
ETC Japan located in Osaka's harbor area of Suminoe may be bigger than you realize. Despite only having a handful of students these past two semesters, ETCJP has the housing capabilities for several teams with as many as 4 individual project rooms and 2 teams could easily share a single space as they equate to the size of roughly 2 ETC Pittsburgh lounges. It's my hope that in the future we can fill such a large space. It's really big!
The ETC provided apartments are quite large as well and have the amenities needed to survive in Japan. Here is a breakdown of some of things (not including objects left by previous students) that are in the apartments:
- Western Style room
- Tatami (Japanese style) room
- Toilet closet
- Bathroom area with separate bathing space
- Living area with attached smaller dining area
- Washing Machine
- Ofuro (Japanese Bathtub)
- Pots and Pans
- Gas Stove
- Tiny Oven in the stove about 6 inches wide, a foot deep and shallow
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Chopping board
- 4 Chairs
- Tiny, legless (doggy) couch
Sleeping Areas x 2:
- Japanese Futon
- Thin Blanket
- 2 Space Heaters
- 2 Fans
- Lights for each room
Things to Remember to bring:
- Deodorant (hard to find stick kind in Japan)
Some of the Apartments may include extra:
- Rice Cooker
- Water Heater or Hotpot
- Drawers, Tables or Shelves
It's also good to bring creature comforts of your own. I for one brought a body pillow and a PS2 with me and so have other students in the past. A couple of us, including myself, brought monitors as well so we can enjoy digital media as well. I also find it nice to appreciate something from time to time from my hometown. Luckily I can buy Heinz ketchup here, which satisfies me. Previous students have had things like hot sauce, Hershey's chocolate and books brought from home. Photos are always nice too.
The office is comfortable and has a lot of space to move around. There is a Wii, a small lounge area (for now), an area with bean bag chairs and fold out furniture to crash on. There's also a refrigerator, microwave oven/toaster, water heater and tea set. If space is available, we'll also set up an individual Skype room for private calls to the states. The ATC, in which the campus is located, and the attached WTC have huge shopping areas with tons of choices for food. There's also several convenience stores inside. If this campus has one serious edge, it's that you really REALLY don't need a car. You can get anywhere in the country by trains and subways and a wide variety of food and snacks are right down the hall. It should also be mentioned that there is a wide range of professional video compositing and sound resources available on the floor above us in the iMedio offices. All in all, it's a good campus with a lot of space and the appropriate software to work. We're in the process of getting a computer hardware upgrade as well.
Come see for yourself!