I've brought a little more American culture to the Land of the Rising Sun. I finally got around to putting together the pumpkin pie ingredients I bought a while ago and borrowed an oven in the school to bake it (few people here have anything larger than a small toaster oven in their homes, and of course these don't heat evenly enough for a precious pie). After filling the (also home-made) crust, I had some raw filling left over in my big tupperware tub, so I carried it around the school for students to taste. About seventy percent were curious enough to try it--some even enthusiastically. The second group I approached, not willing to put their mouths on the same spoon, used the spoon to dump small bits of it onto their hands; this seemed clever and sanitary, so thereafter, I asked kids to stick out their hands and dropped some very cold brown goo onto them. It was a little too spicy for some (it did mellow in baking), and when they heard the ingredients, they were astounded that I'd used ginger in a dessert. The most common questions I got, other than ingredients, were "Did you make this?" (seemed pretty obvious to me, but kids don't expect adult men to be able to cook or otherwise care for ourselves) and the even more discouraging "Who made this?" (as if my making it hadn't even occurred to the kid). From the big response, I think I'll bake another one for the teachers around Christmas time, and maybe I'll ask the home ec teacher if we can teach a class to make it. I love this job (and the pie was fantastic).
Then again, there's a little bit of Japanese culture (in the infectious-disease sense) I won't be bringing back to the Land of the Rising Dollar. I've mentioned the prevalence and legality of prostitution before. I've also mentioned how colorful some of the ads that get slipped into my mailbox can be. Yes, this had to come. I just received a flyer for a hooker. I'm not sure if it's for a particular woman or for a club, but in case you've ever wondered, the rates are about $150 for an hour, about $430 for a day, and about $13,000 for a month. Again, I don't know if $13,000 buys you a constant companion or just one month of all the service you want at a sex club. I'd scan and post it, but the quality is terrible, and it wouldn't look like much, since there's just a photo of an unattractive woman in a thong, no amusing cartoon mascot (for which I suppose I should be glad). I brought it into school today to ask my friend Mr. Omori to explain some of the parts I didn't fully understand, but I never found a good time to ask him (obviously, it wasn't the kind of thing to bring out in class or when the teachers' room was too crowded). This may also be evidence that I'm not living in an especially high-rent district (my building has a lot of single factory workers).
What else? It's cold now, and the farmers have finally finished burning most of their agricultural waste, so the skies have suddenly cleared. For the first time in months, I can see Haku-san, the 8000' volcano fifty or sixty miles away, and it's covered in snow. Everything is beautiful in the fall sun. I've been hiking and driving in the mountains and by the sea as often as I can. The stars are brilliant. I'm really hoping for clear skies over the weekend to watch the big meteor shower; in fact, I'm heading out tonight to scout an observing location. If you haven't heard about the showers Saturday and Sunday night, look into them--they should be worth getting out in the middle of the night for. Heck, if you can come up with a couple of hundred bucks, you won't even have to watch them alone.
O genki de