Saturday, September 11, 2010

おひとり様物語 Ohitori-sama monogatari

[Side note: This post is completely unrelated to the 2-volume manga おひとり様物語 Ohitori-sama Monogatari by Tanikawa, Fumiko--a collection of short stories featuring women who are "by themselves" in some form or another. I simply borrowed the title! =P I really like the manga, though, so if you get a chance, definitely check it out!]

Particularly since coming to Japan, there have been days when I've regretted being the solitary, introverted type who can't handle long and/or extended periods of socializing with people (unless they're really really close friends). I've pretty much accepted that I'll never feel at ease at large JET events/ALT gatherings, but I've definitely struggled with feeling like an outsider among the more local community of nearby JETs.

Over the past three years there have been a number of painful moments where I've realized that I've been excluded from an outing/event organized/attended by seemingly all the other ALTs from my area. I know that I kind of set myself up for it since I tend to decline a lot of invitations (because being with large groups is draining for me) and obviously people get tired of constantly having their invitations refused and naturally start to give up on inviting me... But it still stings.

But anyway, this post is NOT about that.

Today was not one of the lonely, regretful days. Today was a day where I could revel in being おひとり様 (ohitori-sama, a.k.a. by myself).

I slept in a little (until 9:30am), then did laundry and puttered around the house until about 1pm. From 1pm-3pm, I enjoyed a leisurely lunch/study time at one of my favourite Towada restaurants, イッシン (Isshin).

It was rainy and slightly cool today, so the クリームシチュー (cream stew) really hit the spot! I followed it up with my favourite アーモンドココア almond cocoa.
Cream Stew (comes w/ salad & choice of bread/rice)

Almond Cocoa
Usually when I eat by myself I eat pretty quickly, but today I ate at a very leisurely pace since I was studying kanji and Japanese vocabulary for the N3 JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) at the same time. I don't know if my study was (or has been) particularly effective, but I definitely enjoyed doing it today! ^_^ (I think I may head back to イッシン for a dinner/study session tomorrow too!)

After イッシン I headed to Jusco for groceries. I was so full, though, I couldn't even begin to think about what I'd want to cook for the week, so I ended up just buying milk, yogurt, and some chocolate chip cookies.

Back at home I took care of some emails and otherwise bummed around until about 6:30pm when I decided to head out to see the Aki Matsuri 夜間運行 (yakan unkou, loosely translated, evening parade). I actually considered not going since it was raining and it really doesn't change that much from year to year, but やっぱり even in crummy weather it's something I can't miss.

Thankfully it was only a light rain as opposed to the torrential sounding rain I woke up to in the morning, so it really wasn't too bad walking out and sitting on the curb (I brought a tarp for that purpose) throughout the parade.
Plenty of spectators, even in the rain

Even when I saw all the other Towada ALTs go by with the Chuo Group mikoshi, I simply thought "I'm happy that they look like they're having a good time; but I'm definitely happier sitting here watching them!"

Doing the mikoshi carry once was more than enough for me. Even if I enjoyed (pardon the crude language) being dry humped by mostly drunk guys for an hour, I still wouldn't join again due to the religious conflict. True, the Towada mikoshi carries are mostly 形だけ (katachi dake = shape/form only), but it's still supposed to be a god's shrine that they're carrying. In my first year I didn't really think too much about the religious implications and just took it as an experience in "Japanese culture", but now that I know better, it's not something I feel like I should participate in.

After the 夜間運行, I slowly made my way back home, stopping to try out interesting street food. This year it seems like there was a lot of new B級グルメ (B-Grade Gourmet) food stalls, like 揚げもんじゃ (age monja, a.k.a. deep fried monjayaki) and ラーメンバーガー (ramen burgers--although I had one yesterday, not today). Not that I'm complaining, of course--I LOVE trying out new/weird/interesting foods! =P

So today's dinner was 揚げもんじゃ,  シャーピン (shaapin--my favourite festival food (as of last year)), and トルコアイス (Turko Ice (Cream)).
crispy outside, gooey monjayaki inside
The BEST シャーピン stall!
トルコアイス - It's stretchy!
Safe even upside down!
I was pretty impressed by the showmanship/salesmanship of the トルコアイス guy!

All in all, it was an extremely satisfying day on my own! ^_^ I look forward to a similar one tomorrow, with the mikoshi/parade/Ofukanai JHS Komaodori, etc. in the afternoon (starting at 2pm) and--unless something comes up--another meal/study time at イッシン!  (If I have the space, I may even go for a parfait tomorrow!)
Awesome イッシン parfait!
Oh, and I've uploaded my pics for viewing in my Facebook album Towada Aki Matsuri 2010.

Closing shot:
Coolest back of a float I've seen yet in Towada! GUNDAM!!