Sunday, October 18, 2009

Misawa Air Fest '09

Today Corey and I went to the annual Misawa Air Base air show. Once a year, the base's gates are opened to everyone in Japan and flying demonstrations are put on by US AF/Navy & Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) pilots. Huge numbers of people descend upon the little town of Misawa. Seriously, there were THRONGS of people here today (apparently around 250,000) from all over Japan. We live about 3 miles from base (usually a 5-10 minute drive), and it took us just about an HOUR to get there today, even with taking all the secret back roads. Fields were converted into parking lots all over town with shuttles running to and from the base. It was basically a gigantic madhouse of people.
Thousands of people on the flightline waiting to watch the Thunderbirds

The flying was cool enough. Stunts, formations, you know the drill. What Corey and I were there to see were the thousands of Japanese people excitedly taking advantage of being able to get their hands on all the American culinary delicacies so rarely available to them- namely the fast food restaurants on base, the plain Duncan Hines box-cakes that we Americans volunteer to bake by the hundreds to sell, and Anthony's Pizza (I've never had it, but it looks to me like the least appetizing pizza one could imagine). We had heard the stories of lines miles long and folks walking around with stacks of pizza boxes to take home with them. The day did not disappoint. Apparently the Japanese, in general, really do love cheap American grub. We couldn't count the number of people toting around arm-fulls of pizzas like this man below, or the masses waiting for their turn to order a Whopper at Burger King in the following pic:
The event also attracted a bajillion amateur photographers who had the most giant camera lenses I've ever seen. One guy had what I originally thought was a portable chair until he picked it up and I realized it was a camera sitting on top of its lens. Hundreds of cameras like the one below reached up to the sky like telescopes trying to get good shots of the planes.
I guess they're pretty hardcore about their photography out here.

Fun day!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learning Japanese

It's definitely time to make some serious headway into learning the language of the country we live in. It's becoming rather tiresome to know nothing other than "Hi, bye, how are you, water please" and other similar simple phrases. It's easy to be lazy with language-learning in Misawa; there are a lot of other English-speakers around, and the town is set up to make a lot of allowances for us non-Japanese speaking Americans. It's fairly easy to get by with what we know now, but we're ready to do more than just "get by."

After waiting months and months for our "turn" to use the free version of Rosetta Stone available through the library on base (to a limited number of people at a time), only to miss the week our turn came up when we were back in the states and get put back on the bottom of the list, we decided to break down and buy our own copy of the software. Expensive- yes, but ultimately worth it in the end- or so we're hoping.

There is also an interesting sounding class on Japanese language and culture offered by the International Center in Misawa starting in November that we hope to take. So hopefully, slowly but surely, we'll make progress and be speaking up a Japanese storm soon enough!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting hard to KTBSPA...

If you didn't know that in my teenage years I was a die-hard stalker mega Backstreet Boys fan, then you don't know me very well. I was hardcore in my devotion to these dudes.

The urgency of my fandom has died down over the years as my hormones musical tastes have matured, but I've continued to keep a glimmer of the pride alive. However-

Their new album just plain stinks (I know...shocking, right?). I moderately enjoy 1.5 songs on it, and the rest is just bad. Since most Americans have long since gotten past their love for the boys (and are probably thinking, "Huh? New album? Aren't these guys busy munching on prunes in retirement homes by now?"), they currently have plans to tour only in Europe and Japan to promote their new lackluster work. Being in Japan, that's no loss for a fan like me! They're doing 8 shows here, which gives me plenty of opportunities to see them.

But, honestly, I'm not sure if I'm feeling it. There was a time in my life where I wouldn't have been able to imagine skipping an opportunity to see BSB. 14-year-old Patty would think 25-year-old Patty was certifiably insane. Then again, 14-year-old Patty never heard this new monstrosity of an album.

Poor Backstreet Boys.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wonder Goo and Hard-Off

I wonder what they sell at these 2 stores...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lake Towada and Oirase Gorge

This weekend we decided to go out for a drive and headed over to Lake Towada (about an hour and a half's drive to the west). That place is gorgeous, and we had such a fantastic morning walking/driving around, taking in all the scenery. Here are some pictures we took:
How pretty is that?! Weather permitting (cross your fingers), we're planning to go back in 2 weeks and do a full long hike through the gorge, whereas this weekend we just drove through and got out to walk around every now and then.

We're loving Japan more and more every day!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Happiness!

Woops, I've been a sucky blogger lately. Sorry about that. Corey got home a couple of weeks ago and we've been catching up on our hanging out/husband&wife time and getting back into the swing of our "normal" lives (I use quotes because I still can't believe this is our normal life- isn't "normal" supposed to be less fun and exciting??). In any case, hopefully I'll get back to more regular updates from now on.
Rice field behind our house

The seasons have definitely shifted and we're in solid fall now. I'm LOVING it! Much less rain than in the summer, cool and crisp air without being too cold, no snow yet (I'm shuddering at the thought), and beautiful colors all around! The weather has sparked major happy feelings, and we've been having so much fun walking/running around town and getting out of the house and taking advantage of the niceness while it lasts.
The backside of our house (ours is the farthest orange one) and the big squash fields that look like they belong on Farmville. :)

I think I've mentioned this before (and I'm totally re-exposing my nerd-ness here), but I find it extremely interesting watching the seasons change and seeing the agricultural cycles in action. Living my whole life in CA, I had never seen real seasons before this, and obviously I've never lived in such a rural environment where there is so much farming going on. It's fascinating to watch the world change from dead nothingness in the middle of winter, to fresh, unbelievably green foliage in spring, and see crops, flowers and trees blossom and wilt over and over with new colors for each season. Too cool!
The new bright flower colors popping up all over the place (pardon the picture quality- I just snapped this from the car as we were driving by)

What most of the countryside looks like right now

I hope everyone else is having a great fall too! And I promise, more posts soon to come.