On Thursday, Paul and I traveled to Ome to pick up some books. Ome is only about an hour down the road northwest of Tokyo. The great thing is that Paul has really interesting friends, so it turned out to be an awesome day trip.. The first place we visited was a house.. church. Let me explain.
Japanese often have very ambiguous religious ties, and may often mix and match different rites and traditions, namely Buddhism, Shintoism, and even sometimes Christianity. This hodgepodge has led to some interesting trends. The saying goes that Japanese are often "born Shinto, get married Christian, and die Buddhist."
Even though few Japanese claim any association with Christianity, they often like to have Christian weddings. No one I've talked to knows exactly why this is popular, but it's in demand to the point that special chapels are often built for the wedding business (much like Las Vegas). In our case, they built THIS one:
Some of Paul's friends actually turned this former chapel into their home. It's spacious, and it has a commanding (and beautiful) view of the countryside. This kind of space generally sells at a premium here in Japan. But the church's location was so poor and business was so lousy that the company sold the chapel for the same price as a tiny Japanese house would sell for (still expensive, but you see why they chose the chapel).
Not only that, but the place has real marble floors! It's basically a mansion. I wish more people would do this sort of creative stuff with their houses. The only downside is that utilities are fantastically expensive in Japan, and this chapel is expensive to heat. The Paul's friend informed me they were surviving the winter by "wearing lots and lots of blankets."
Worth it? I think so.
Later that afternoon, we visited Paul's other friends Graham and Yasuko. Graham is an artist and Yasuko is a dance instructor, and they live in a comfortable house in Ome with their three children. They were very kind to us, and, more importantly, Yasuko made us homemade sushi. Yum! Just another example of the awesome stuff I'm doing that it's impossible to do in Nebraska. You're welcome for the reminder.
In other news, my Japan family and I are going skiing tomorrow! Woo-HOO! I can't wait. Major thanks to Paul, Nancy, and Naomi for including me in this experience.. I know I'll love it. I'll be out of touch for a couple days, so don't miss me too much.
We're also getting very near the completion of our first major project, a fund raising document for Persimmon. I'm getting pretty excited for this to be finished and to move on to something else. Also, my Japanese is coming along swimmingly. Watashi wa Michael des. Watashi wa ni joo yon! (My name is Michael. I'm 24!) Baby steps.
If you're praying for me (if you're the praying type), please pray that I will be determined to immerse myself fully into my work here. Also, please pray that I'll make connections with people. And pray that my support comes in. Let's stick to those three for now.
I don't want you guys to worry about me. I can take care of myself.. mostly.. Also, if you see Alysondra, give her a big hug for me and tell her "Mike says thanks for the care package!" But don't kiss her. Too far, guys, too far. Josh.. I've got my eye on you. >8-|
Welp! The stew's up! Until next time...