Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I apologize for the bad Game of Thrones joke, but I can't help but think I'm north of the wall and am going to see a white walker when I look out the window. As some of you have told me via Facebook, the news of the record breaking snow in Japan has made it to the U.S. which is a big deal. Here, it's not unusual for the Japanese to be extremely aware of U.S. news and policies (I've had discussions started by my coworkers asking about how many states gay marriage and marijuana are now legal in). I couldn't even begin to speak about what are the big issues in Japan, besides the snow, and I'm living here! To put you all at ease, I am doing perfectly fine. I haven't lost heat or power despite Mother Nature giving it her best attempt, as you tell from this article from Reuters and this article from The Japan Times. If you remember from a few posts ago Kiyosato is in the Yamanashi Prefecture, capital Kofu, which are both the focus of the articles. The amount of snow, 114 centimeters, closed KEEP. Most all of the offices closed on Friday when the storm hit and today was the first day a few of the offices reopened. So what has that meant for me? Well after finishing up my time at Shizen Gakko last Tuesday, I had three days off before I was supposed to go back on Saturday. Obviously, programs were cancelled due to weather, so there was no one to cook for, so I've been hanging out in my dorm for the past nine, NINE! days. I've gotten really into watching West Wing online. I did make it out to the 7-11 to get more food and it looked like the apocalypse had hit. All the bread and cereal AND cookies were gone along with most everything else on the shelves.The creepiness was taken to another level when the only other person in the store at 9:30pm with me was the store clerk who had a face mask on. While I know it's a polite thing to wear when you're sick, it just made me feel like I was in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Yesterday I couldn't really handle the cabin fever that was setting in anymore, so I bundled up, grabbed my camera and headed out around KEEP and walked down into Kiyosato itself to check out the storm damage. It's mostly pictures because talking about how many times I've painted my nails or done pilates in my room can get a little boring.
|The path from the front door towards the bigger path that leads to the main road.|
|I totally understand how these things can kill you!|
|The path that's usually a road to drive to our dorm.|
|Looking from the road, over what is usually a parking lot to the restaurant of the Siesen Ryo Annex.|
|Climbed on top of a 7 foot snow pile to look out over the usual parking lot.|
|Because we're in the mountains, the wind whips around and creates these HUGE snow dunes.|
|Street sign that's about the height of a US speed limit sign.|
|Not quite sure of the type of bird--I'm not well versed in Japanese fowl yet, I apologize.|
I should have know I was gonna see some wild life.
|I believe the bakery has been open the whole time because I've |
heard my roommate get up every morning for
her 4am shift-it's those West Wing binges.
|More killer icicles that haven't been ripped off the roof by a nervous American.|
|The sign for church.|
|I now know the hill to church is do-able.|
|I may be able to get TO church, but whether or not I'll be able to get IN is another story.|
|Crossing over the railroad tracks walking into town.|
|While the town is pretty dead in the winter with most of the shops closed, the snow makes it even eerier.|
|I'm really excited for summer to come so I can go to the Milk Pot...|
who wouldn't want to go
somewhere that's shaped like a tea pot?
|My favorite building besides the Milk Pot--the Green Prah. Have yet to figure out what it is.|
|We have one police car in Kiyosato. It will make it much easier to creep when I hear sirens.|
|Hill leading up to the train station.|
|Truck taking away plowed snow...to where? I never found out.|
|Decorative train engine, but it gives you a scale of the snow amount.|
|What's normally, I would assume, a picturesque, lush, verdant area in front of |
the train station. I wouldn't know it's
been covered with snow since I got here.
|Looking down the road through town that leads to KEEP.|
|Headed back up the hill...clock tower next to the Milk Pot.|
|The mountains over KEEP...it never gets old.|
|On the way back they had brought out the snow plow train.|
|Looking out over the mountains to the south.|
|I found someone's polar bear that escaped to his natural habitat.|
|The field where County Fair is usually held.|
|Three days ago every single one of those cars was covered in snow to their roof. |
I don't know who did it, but they
deserve my first born.
|The path back to Lancaster.|
I went out again today anticipating exploring up the mountain, but after I started and the road became not as cleared, the warning from my manager in an email saying "Don't go anywhere in the snow without staff" started repeating in my head. I decided to just hang around the rotary by the old Seisen Ryo building and watch the sun start to set. It's my favorite part of the day with the sun going down over the mountains. I climbed a huge snow pile and just sat and watched.
|The old Seisen Ryo lodge with the Paul Rusch statue.|
|The Paul Rusch statue in the middle of the rotary.|
|View from atop my perch.|
|This couple tried to make their poor dog walk in the snow. It didn't work so well.|
|View of the Jersey Hut where they sell the famous soft cream.|
Just wanted to send a post out to show I'm alive and well even in the heaviest hit area of Japan.
Until next time,
Monday, February 17, 2014
Well would you look at that! Last weekend marked officially being in Japan for a month! A page has been turned on the calendar. I hate to be cliche, but time really does fly when you're having fun. It's like time hopped on the bullet train, or shinkansen, while I wasn't looking and left me on the platform wondering where it went. So when I posted last time I said I was about to take a trip to Tokyo, but what have I been doing with the rest of my time here?!? A month is a long time to just be playing in the snow and looking at the beautiful mountains, right? Well this is what I have been up to! I apologize in advance for the length, but a lot happens in a month!
After the initial shock of getting here and moving into my dorm, work started. Okemoto-san, who is my boss in the International Relations department, had the great idea for the first few months of me being here to rotate around to the different departments at KEEP to get a feel for what each of them does, how they interact with each other, with the guests, and how they contribute to the overall success of KEEP. I couldn't have picked a better plan myself!
My first placement was at the Paul Rusch Memorial Center. Paul Rusch was an American from Kentucky (but born in Indiana!) who came to Japan to help rebuild in Tokyo after the major earthquake in 1923. He was persuaded to stay as an Episcopal missionary working as a professor at Rikkyo, or St. Paul's, University. During that time, he saw a need for youth leadership based in Christian ideals and built, high in the mountains, a youth retreat. Later on down the road when he re-envisioned the organization, it became known as KEEP, or the Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project, which was to be a model of community development in rural Japan. How do I know all this? Because the Paul Rusch Memorial Center is a museum dedicated to Paul Rusch's life! When I say this community reveres this man for what he did for the area, I'm not kidding. They have all of his passports, immigration documents, luggage, papers, letters, clothing, even his American Express from 1972 displayed in the museum. What is really quite awesome is that his house he lived in at KEEP is behind the PRMC and they have left it the exact same since his death and have made it into an extension of the museum. He was somewhat of a celebrity in Japan and you can see all the proclamations made in his name as well as all the gifts his friends, including everyone from ambassadors to emperors, had given him. So as a non-Japanese speaking person, I was obviously not being a tour guide or anything. No, my time was spent with the curator or the museum, Hata-san. Her and I had a lot of fun together. She has very good English and we would laugh a lot while working together on our different projects. My main project while there was to create a database of the Paul Rusch letters. Now what might the Paul Rusch letters be? I'm glad you asked! During Paul Rusch's life, he must have written thousands upon thousands of letters. Letters thanking people for donations to start KEEP, letters thanking people for donations to rebuild after a fire, letters inviting people to visit KEEP while they were in Japan, and I even read some letters from former students of his requesting him to use his klout to try and help get two family friends be admitted to Rikyyo University. All of these original letters and documents have been saved in filing cabinets, in folders labled with names of who the documents inside pertain to, in the back room of the Memorial Center. My job while there was to take these documents, with white gloved hands to keep these fifty year old documents safe, and scan them into the computer. Then, any handwritten English documents needed to be typed out in Word to be able to add to this database we are creating. Obviously as a native English speaker, it is a little bit easier for me to decipher some of these handwritings. Once all these documents are created and saved, the basis for this database needed to be created and each document needed to have topic words and keywords added in a huge excel sheet so one day this database of letters can be searched by name of author, what the letter was about, date, you name it. Hata-san said they have over a million documents in this back room and I thought maybe she mixed up million and thousand until it took me three days to get through four folders of documents. It will be nice once it is finished, but I think this is a job that is going to outlast my placement here. I will say, I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing it, though. It made me honestly think that I went into the wrong field of hospitality and really should be holed up alone in the basement of a museum or library or something doing research on items from long ago. Two opposite ends of the spectrum career-wise.
|My first workplace!|
|Hata-san is here on the left and Aya-san, who works in the office next to International Relations, is on the right. Our work on the rosaries.|
|Our (almost) finished products. The crosses hadn't come in the mail yet.|
|Our teacup feeders...they are a cup and saucer with the Seisen Ryo logo on them--very fitting.|
|Our peanut wreaths--all you preschool teachers should take note on this one!|
|Our feeders and wreaths on the trees ready for the birds--I felt like a Pinterest queen after this.|
|I have still yet to figure out the connection between Japan and Notre Dame, but they also have a football signed by Lou Holtz, so it's got to be something notable. If anyone can shed some light, my curiosity would thank you!|
|Brainstorming ideas--as well as the names of the ACK board.|