Monday, January 10, 2005

Just Another Day In Paradise

I had another amazing day today with my neighbors, the Oyama-sans. Their son, Yuki (who is maybe 7 years old) had a race today -- he ran in a 2k in the neighborhood. I took an extra long lunch hour to watch him. There were a few thousand people here from all over Japan, and the race was held just about a block away from my house. I was definitely the only American in the crowd, but it felt different than the usual rock star experience. I knew so many people who attended the event, which felt great, and people weren't as shocked as they usually are to see me and my blonde hair. (I mean, there were a few people yelling "Herro!" to me, but not as many as usual.) Yuki came in 8th in his age group, and we sat around eating udon afterwards while the organizers gave out awards. (Ok, they sat around eating udon. Udon sucks.) I got some awesome pictures on my new digital camera and someday soon I'll try to learn to post those.

Beforethe race started, Yuki's mom, Toshi, and I were standing around in the freeeeezing weather watching the kids. I was trying to be smooth and so I was speaking every Japanese word/phrase I know. In an attempt to make small talk, I was commenting on how cold it was outside. Except that I was saying warm. "Kyo wa totemo atsuii desu" means "Today it is very hot." Toshi corrected me -- it's the difference between atsuii and samuii (hot and cold.)

There were gazillions of sweet children everywhere and I was overwhelmed with how cute they all are. Most of them had bedhead (that's a whole 'nother post) and they were yawning and looked like maybe their parents had just dragged them there. They had little numbers pinned to their tiny shirts, and I just wanted to eat them all up. I was apparently talking to myself saying "gosh" and "cute" a lot, and finally Toshi asked me what "gosh-o" meant. Hmmm. What does it mean? I compared it to the word "wow" or the Japanese expression "eto..." which is kind of like our "ummmm." From then on, Toshi said "gosh-o" and "cute-o" (instead of the Japanese word for cute, which is kawaii) every five seconds, and I heard her explaining that word to her parents and friends. It was sweet. And every time she said those words, she would look at me for approval.

I had to go back to work after about an hour of hanging out with them. When I got back to the bank, I ran over to the Baskin and Robins (which is across the hall from the branch -- total disaster) and got a small ice cream cake that was colored red, white and blue. I had them write "Good race Yuki!" on it (not exactly a literary masterpiece, but I was trying to stick with words they would be able to read) and took it to the Oyama-sans tonight when I got home. They freaked. It was so much fun for me. Yuki was so excited when he saw his name on the cake. Papa (that's Nobu-san to you) was so pleased and kept saying, "K1mbery-san, special cake-y." Ain't life grand?

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