Right after that, I ran my bike off a cliff because I wasn’t paying attention. Next thing I know, my bike is exploding, I’m flying through the air, and the cat shows up to inexplicably save me with its magic powers. I thought maybe I was crazy when he first started talking to me, but that all changed when I discovered my own latent magic powers. We flew off into the sunset and that was the beginning of our fantastic hijinks.
Actually, I was a chicken and I didn’t go back to check if it was a magic cat. I was also rather intent on getting that ice cream. I’m pretty sure it was a magical cat though. I stared at him, he stared at me. We had a moment. If I see him again, I’ll know for sure.
I r bird! Wurship me!
When Mister and I were first considering our move out here, we had some apprehension about how we would keep ourselves entertained. Misawa is relatively small city of 40,000 or so located in northeastern Japan (the Tohoku region, which literally translates to “east north”) in a mostly agricultural, rural area. Many of the big tourist destinations, like Tokyo or Kyoto, are at least a 3-4 hour train ride away. Many people we asked were not particularly reassuring either. There would be a significant pause, and then they would say something like, “Well, there’s plenty to do if you like going outdoors.” I do like going outdoors, but the pause was worrisome.
Fortunately we took the chance. Misawa is in fact a great little city and in a beautiful region. Aomori (our prefecture/state) is full of all sorts of interesting destinations within easy day-trip distance. Gas is expensive in Japan, but when you have the perk of access to American gas prices? Road trips all the time!
One of our first excursions was to the Kabushima seagull shrine near the “big” city of Hachinohe. It was also our first experience driving unsupervised in Japan. That in itself was a bit of an adventure. I’ve learned it is difficult to get by in Japan without GPS (even if you are Japanese). Many roads are unlabeled and often GPS coordinates are more useful than addresses. On the upside, most road signs (on major roads/highways) are labeled in both Japanese and English. We armed ourselves with Google maps, some coordinates, and hoped the navigation gods didn’t lead us astray. (Fun fact, even though it is generally pretty useful, Google maps isn’t quite as refined in Japan as it is in the U.S. so sometimes it tries to send you down obscure alleyways or unpaved farm tracks.)
Mister and I picked this first destination rather flippantly. A shrine dedicated to seagulls you say? Sure, sounds more interesting than being stuck on a drab military base. Well, Kabushima is not just a shrine devoted to seagulls. It is set on top of a tiny rocky island where the black-tailed gull comes every spring/summer to nest and raise their young. This isn’t just a few seagulls, it is hordes of them.
Now, imagine if you will, one seagull. That soothing shrill cry, the brazen attitude, the proclivity for pooping on everything. Now imagine 40,000 of them in one place. The sound is nearly deafening and you are hard pressed not to trip on any as you make your way up to the shrine. For the record, baby seagulls are also pretty darn ugly.
Not pictured: Umbrellas for your protection at the bottom of the steps.
Still, it was a cool experience. It was a pleasant drive down the coast and my first chance to see something of Japan that wasn’t from an airplane window. I really enjoyed it after being cooped up in a hotel. In addition, Mister bought himself a good fortune.
Since all the fortunes were in Japanese, we assumed it was good since we didn’t get pooped on.
I also got the fattest, most adorable seagull shrine token.
It also had a fortune inside.
Oh and Wikipedia tells me that this specific cacophony is one of the “100 Soundscapes of Japan” so I guess I can check that off my list.
So I’ve been in Japan for about a month now. I’ve eaten live fish, nearly made myself ill indulging in Japanese candies and junk food, slept through my first earthquake, and probably unknowingly committed some grievous public faux pas.
It’s taken a little bit to adjust to the fact that I’m actually in Japan and can start enjoying myself. The first week or so was a bit iffy. My cats were imprisoned, I was tired of living in hotel rooms, and it seemed like I might never see the sun. The traitorous voice that is afraid of new things tried to convince me everything was scary and things were not going to be alright.
It was so foggy, the airport was unusable for a week.
Of course, the traitorous voice was wrong. Things have since greatly improved. We found a house (a real full-sized house!) in a Japanese neighborhood instead of one of the American enclaves so it’s closer to everything. The kitties were successfully freed from Guantanameow and have adjusted well to their new home. The sun finally came out and the weather has been gorgeous. All this did a lot of good for my morale and I realized it is in fact pretty damn awesome here.
This is the view from my sewing room!
The only thing missing at this point is all of the rest of our stuff–like all our furniture, the rest of my kitchen, and all of my crafty supplies. I know that it has at least arrived in Japan, but it could be at least a week before it makes it to Misawa and then more to get to our house. That means no real crafty adventures until then and I’m really starting to get itchy fingers.
On the upside, I do have my fancy camera and I sort of know how to work it. We’ve already gotten out and started touring the region. Until the rest of my stuff shows up, I shall subject the masses to my travel adventures and photography.