Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Stranger in a Strange Land.

I'm wrting this while sitting on a futon in the middle of my girlfriend Laura's apartment. This sentence is not in and of itself worthy of a Joey Lawrence-style "Whoa!" until I tack on the detail that said apartment is in Ise, Japan.

Say it with me: "Whoa!"

I'm having a wonderful time, and recording the occasional videoblog post using my Treo 650. I brought my Sony DCR-PC10 with me for this purpose, but it wasn't until I was sitting in the airport in Detroit and about to make my first entry that I found that the bloody thing is no longer keeping a battery charge. Rats! So the videoblog posts will be choppy and odd when I get them up here. However, I also upgraded my Canon Digital Rebel with a new battery and a 4GB CompactFlash card that is the bee's knees. The sucker now holds well over 1000 photos – when I boot it up the "exposures left" field reads 999, woo! – and so my Flickr account is going to explode when I start uploading this stuff. :)

I flew out of Boston on an 8:30 AM flight from Boston to Detroit, where I puttered around for a 2-hour layover, and then hit the tarmac again for a nonstop flight from Detroit to Osaka. Laura picked me up there on Saturday afternoon (and bless her for not completely mocking my jetlagged ass), we dumped our luggage in a hotel in Osaka and then went poking around. Osaka was incredible. It's kind of amazing how much your existing frames of reference color your perceptions – I was walking around Osaka goggling at how much the place resembled a real-life episode of Ranma 1/2. Seriously. We stopped at a restaurant where Laura introduced me to takoyaki, these doughy little balls with chunks of squid in the middle. Do not eat these suckers hot off the grill. You think the mouth-burn from a frozen pizza is bad? You ain't seen nothin' yet...

The next morning we packed up our stuff and went to catch the train to Ise, which is where Laura's been cramming English into the heads of Japanese kids as a teacher in the JET program. On the way there we stopped for coffee at a – get this – Starbucks. Yes, they're everywhere. I had to stop and try it out. Depressingly, their chais and mochas are smoother than the ones in the States. Maybe it's the full-fat milk they use. I dunno. I refuse to concede that Brandon was right in his assessment that "Everything's better in Japan", but they sure do seem to nail some stuff. :)

Yesterday Laura and I went down to a Japanese grocery store, which was an experience. Laura laughed at me as I snapped a bunch of photos in the grocery, but how often do you see curry donuts!? We loaded up on sushi, baked goods, snacks and sodas and then headed back to Laura's place. After gorging ourselves on some truly excellent sushi, I got to meet her friends Emily and Miri, who are both extremely nice and fun people. The four of us hit a puri kura ("print club") parlor, which was a blast. (Things to get Laura for her birthday: Starbucks mug with the customizable inserts!) We then went and poked around Ise a little, stopping by a shrine where we got to see the keeper of the shrine come out in full garb as part of a local festival parade. I'll upload pics of those later so you guys can see this – the girls tell me this is an extremely rare event. After that, Em and Miri had to hop a train to Tokyo, so Laura and I went back to her place to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on DVD, but I passed out within the first 15 minutes of the movie.

Today Laura and I are going to check out the Ise shrine and poke around town some more, and then we're off to Kyoto! More updates when I can; email access here is a little random. But, yes – having a wonderful tme, wish you were here, yadda yadda yadda.

Man, I needed this. :-)


Cool, man!! Very Cool. Say hello to Laura for me, and have a fabulous time. I want to see the pictures! Post when you can. Now I have to find a way to visit the far East.

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