The City No Longer Forsaken

"They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted." ~Isaiah 62:12

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Another Week in Japan

It is hard to wait to have internet in one's home when one is not really involved in the process for getting it. Even if the guy working on getting it is capable in so many ways, most importantly in that he can read all the Japanese forms. ;)

The past week has been good, though I did have my first bought with homesickness. Sarah, Matt and I watched this really depressing movie set in Montana during world war one and afterwards. I've never been homesick for Wyoming before...the people there, yes. The state, no. But seeing all those open spaces in Montana and the mountains, and I was just about crying from homesickness and not because everyone in the movie had just died. Luckily for me, we escaped Tokyo the day afterwards, and it turns out that there really is some countryside in the more southern parts of Japan. I even got a glimpse of about ten seconds out of the train when there were no people or houses!

We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) down to Hiroshima on Thursday. It was really fast! Not that you didn't know that already, but it was pretty cool. Except I had a little trouble with my ears going through tunnels.

Hiroshima was moving in a weird sort of way. It's odd to sit and look at pictures of children with the skin melting off their arms and feel just sick with the pain of it all... and then think: my country did this. I don't know what would have happened if they hadn't done this... It was all very morally confusing. It was also odd to be in a World War Two museum that said nothing whatsoever about the Holocaust, and I think that added to the moral confusion. I'd love to discuss it with some of you at some point.

We also met the rest of the J-3s in Hiroshima. There are about eight of them down in Kumamoto and only two in Tokyo. I ended up hanging out more with the Tokyo crowd. Part of me is preparing to be the one who stays in Tokyo, which is really bad since I have no idea if it will really be me who is there. For some reason, I just feel like it will. I've got to stop thinking that way.

I had my first real Japanese meal in our retreat center in Hiroshima. We sat on cushions on the tatami floor and had a tray in front of us with tons of little bowls. I can now say that I have eaten: tiny little fish with eyeballs still on them; raw squid; pickled octopus; fish eggs; and a number of other things I can't even name. Unfortunately, at this time I really dislike raw fish. The texture of it was enough that I could remember it all through the next day...kind of like having a song stuck in your head except it was a texture stuck in my mouth. I've never experienced anything like it. I still made myself eat some the next day and I'm hoping to get used to it eventually.

Right now we're visiting Kumamoto, so we're down on the southern island of Japan. We'll see the schools here tomorrow. I really like Kumamoto. There are trees and rice paddies all around us and it just has a smaller feel to Tokyo. They're both big cities, but Kumamoto only has 650,000 to Tokyo's 12 million or so. That means Kumamoto is about the size of the Twin Cities metro area.

Anyway, I need to go. We're getting picked up early to go see the schools!

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