Hello everyone. Things are going really well here. I’m getting to know the names of all the students at work, and I’m getting paid well to work just a little bit and study a lot of Japanese. The sights and sounds are becoming familiar, and I have to remind myself almost daily that I’m actually in a foreign country. There’s a local produce section at the grocery store and a farmers market every Sunday at Tenjinbashi, the covered shopping arcade in town. Right now there’s lots of persimmons, Mandarin oranges, daikons, sweet peppers and fresh greens available. I’ve been eating really well and my pallette is expanding as I decipher the packages at the grocery. I go to the store a couple of times a week for hour long explorations of the isles looking at pictures, squeezing packages, sniffing things and doing a lot of guessing as to what’s what. There’ve only been a couple of mishaps, and I finally found some brown rice.

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Last week I went to Kochi City, the capital of my prefecture. I went through Kochi City when I first came to Nakamura and it looked like a bit of a dump, but I’d just gone through a dumpy part of town. I had a really great time last weekend and found the town suprisingly happening for its size and location. We went on Sunday and there were tons of people out in the large shopping district there was an open air maret that spanned the length of the road leading to the castle. The castle in Kochi, which I didn’t go to, is one of the few originals left in Japan since Kochi wasn’t destroyed during the war. It’s also not supposed to be that impressive, but it’s still probably better than the one in Nakamura.

First, here’s some pictures of the Shimanto River

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I got passed on this bridge by an SUV doing about 30kph.

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En route to Kochi City

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Kochi City view from Godai San

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Chikurin-Ji is one of the Shrines on the 88 Temple pilgrimage, which Shikoku island is famous for. It’s on a big mountain in the middle of the city called Godai-san. It was really peaceful and beautiful here. I got up the courage to ring the bell, and I got my first Omikuji, or temple fortune. The way Omikuji works is you buy a fortune and pull it out of a box. If you get a fortune you like you can hang on to it, but if you get a bad fortune you can tie it to a tree (see below) and get another until you find one that’s acceptable. Mine was a good fortune, so I kept it.

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I think there’s some whale on this platter somewhere. It may be technically illegal, but no one around here seems to mind it too much.

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Portland, eat your heart out. Everyone here rides a bike.

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I thought this was funny since there really aren’t many drugs in Japan.

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I did see a couple of newer models, but this is the standard streetcar here, and there were some even older.

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Ok, this is apparently a karaoke joint.  I don’t think it’s still in service, but there’s no way it could have ever been much better than this.  The sign says “Tomato House.”

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And here’s a few more good signs

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PLEASE DON’T FEED THE CATS!!!

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This one’s my favorite so far

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