This week, I’m at the 研修会 (workshop, training) for the Japanese Linguistics and Pedagogy Course.  It’s being held in Shiga-ken.  But since I write posts chronologically, I won’t say more about that yet.

Well, I figured not everyone who lands on this blog is from Detroit, and those who are might not necessarily be from Southwest Detroit, so my trip home should get at least a bit of attention on this blog, as do my (few) trips to other places.  Plus, there was one very interesting thing I found out about.  More on that later.

On the plane ride to the States, I ended up in a seat whose headphone jack didn’t work.  So I literally just watched the movies.  I dozed through some, and woke up in time to see…who else but Zac Efron!  What is it with trans-Pacific flights and Zac Efron movies?!  Last time it was 17 Again, this time it was Charlie St. Cloud. Also, I saw the show Glee for the first time, and was not impressed. Sorry, Glee fans.

During my 3 weeks in the 313, at first I just slept.  Then I cleaned.  A lot.  Then I ate, after that I shopped and went to the dentist.  Mixed in among this latter phase, I got to catch up with some friends and teachers.  Not with everyone I had hoped to see, but what’s to be done?  If long distance relationships don’t usually work out, it isn’t all that surprising that friendships fade across oceans as well.

Well now, how about some 写真?

He asked for it...

Ah, the cats back home.

There was still snow on the ground when I arrived in mid-December, but, as usual, the cats cried and cried to be let out.  Especially the above furball.  So I grabbed him and tossed him in the snow.  He thought about his predicament for a few seconds, then casually walked back to dry ground.

"Night Street with a Dusting of Snow"

I really don’t care much for trying to go all out to get photos, but the times I do wish I had a higher-end camera are when interesting scenes appear at night.  Maybe it’s because I’m a night person that I enjoy such views, or maybe it’s just because night scenes don’t seem to be as popular as, say, photos of cherry blossoms or Michigan Central Station (to give examples of photography subjects that have been mercilessly run into the ground).

Finally! The Gateway Project is complete!

Most of the time I was in Detroit though, it was unseasonably warm and there was no snow.  Unfortunately, the day I got a chance to finally see the completed Bagley Pedestrian Bridge, it was really dreary. But I was glad to no longer have to go around down Vernor to get to La Gloria and Lupita’s.

Rosca de reyes: cousin of the much maligned fruit cake.

January 6th is Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, or the 12th Day of Christmas.  In some (if not all) Latin American countries, it’s common to eat a rosca de reyes, or kings’ cake, on this day.  Somewhere inside the cake, there’s a plastic Baby Jesús.  Whoever gets the baby has to buy the cake the next year.  Well, that’s what my mother told me, but for some reason, the kings’ cakes we’ve gotten from both the local bakery and the supermarket have more than one baby in them, and actually, they’re not hidden at all; they’re always in the four “compass points” of the cake.

Now, on the sixth, I got more than just a plastic baby in the mouth.  In the course of catching up with a friend, it got dark outside.  I didn’t want to take the bus back, but instead of me calling a taxi, my friend said that since her mother and aunt were about to go to her place, why not see if they could give me a ride?  So she set it up for me, and that’s what we did.  While her mother was asking me various things about Japan, I at one point mentioned Fukuoka specifically, and the aunt yelled out, “FUKUOKA!!!”  I didn’t know what that was about, and just ascribed it to it sounding similar to Spanish and therefore funny or something like that.  Then the aunt says, “I love that song, ‘Bachata en Fukuoka.'”  I was like, “Eh?! There’s such a song?!”  She had it on her phone, so she hooked it up to the van’s speakers and played it for me.  I was so surprised!

Turns out, this song was a big hit.  I tried to embed the video, but EMI doesn’t want people doing that, so here’s an old-fashioned link to it on YouTube.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t actually shot in Fukuoka (it’s L.A.), but it does mention Momochi Beach.  I’d like to translate it to Japanese.  I’ve already started, and once I finish, I’ll give it its own post (with a translation to English as well).

And so, on January 7th I packed my bags, didn’t sleep, posted the post right before this one, and then began the 24 hour journey back to Fukuoka.  Fortunately, on the flight back my headphone jack worked.  Charlie St. Cloud came on again, but I’d already seen it and understood it, so I played Dissidia instead.  (Plane rides seem to be the only time I play that game.  ^_^;)  I did watch The Social Network and Going the Distance.  I thought the former was interesting, the latter was kinda meh.

My good ol’ apartment welcomed me with a flooded toilet room.  Yay, more leaks!  ^_^;  But, I was also welcomed by some nengajou, which was nice, and, surprisingly, some CDs that the co-worker of a friend had said he’d send a good while ago that I was no longer expecting!

I didn’t have much time to rest.  I arrived in Japan on the 9th, the 10th was a national holiday.  Then it was back to work for four days, rest for two, catch up with the Fukuoka peeps, and get up dark and early in the morning to catch the shinkansen up to Kyouto, then the train to Shiga.

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