This morning Mayla, Liz and I went to the neighboring town, Noda, to pick up Jemma, another ALT.(again, that stands for assistant language teacher. I'll be using that abbreviation a lot) The four of us went to a little shop to buy food for lunch. I wasn't sure what I wanted to eat, but decided on the sushi since it was relatively cheap, and I haven't had sushi in Japan yet. At the counter of hot foods, Mayla was looking at what appeared to be balls of fried dough. She told me they had octopus meat inside them, that they're supposedly pretty tasty and that she's always wanted to try them. Good enough for me. So for 190 yen (which is roughly $1.90) for six, I bought them for all of us to sample.
We took the food back to Jemma's place, and ate while watching the Olympics. I picked up the "ball of octopus" (called takoyaki in Japanese) dipped it in the sauce that came with it and put it in my mouth. Mmmm...pretty good!
The sushi and octopus were not the only "firsts" of the day. Today is the first time it's rained since I've been here. And it was also my first day to drive in Japan--on the opposite side of the road! It was only sprinkling rain when I drove though, don't worry.
I drove to the schools where I'll be teaching on Tuesday and Wednesday, to make sure that I know the routes. Honestly, I was nervous for my first time driving in Kuji. But it's really not that bad driving on the "wrong side," although it does feel...well, wrong. I just think to myself, "Left, left, left" when I turn, as a reminder to stay on the left side, and then I'm fine. For the most part, the driving rules are the same as in America. An exception is that pedestrians don't have the right of way. I found that out when I walked around Kuji the other day.
I felt so proud this evening when I drove myself to go shopping! It's so funny because that's no big deal for me at home. But here, it's a major accomplishment! It's major because I found the store without any problems (and there are several twists and turns), and I drove in a way that's not natural for me, without having any difficulties. I wanted to go the 100 yen store because I hadn't been there yet and heard it was cool. Picture a dollar store that's about 10 times the normal size, full of things that look like they should cost more that one dollar. :) My kind of place! I stayed in there for a while and then went next door to the big Universe, not because I really needed to, but just because I enjoy walking the aisles and looking at the different foods.
Yesterday, I did something that was another "first" for me -- I went to a sumo wrestling match! It took place in the really nice gym I wrote briefly about a few days ago. There were a lot more sumo wrestlers than I thought there would be, and the majority of them weren't as huge as I'd expected. Don't get me wrong though...they were big guys. They would slam up against each other, creating a thud noice that made the audience gasp. At one point, they brought out little boys in "sumo training" to wrestle with the big guys. It was cute to watch--like dads playing with their sons--and actually reminded me of the times my dad would wrestle with us on the floor when we were young. Watching the sumo match was one of those things I'm glad I did so I can say I did it. I have a lot more pictures of it than the two below. In fact, there are too many to post here, so I think I'll make some kind of album on a Web site for photos and link it to this blog. (Wow, I sound so technologically savvy. Really I'm not.) I'll be sure to tell you when that's ready.
Just as I had predicted, my experiences in just two days have been interesting, in all senses of the word -- the sumo wrestling, eating octopus, driving on the opposite side of the road...the list will keep growing as time goes on, I'm sure!
Liz and me with the sumo wrestler who looks oh-so-happy to be in this picture with us, haha.
This little girl was so cute! I had to take a picture of her taking a picture of the sumo wrestlers. I admit I watched her about as much as I watched the wrestling!
This is not octopus or sushi. It's actually a picture of yesterday's lunch--chicken curry and rice--that I got at a restaurant with Liz and Mayla.