Saturday, May 25, 2013

Winding Down

Friday was a bit more relaxed as there wasn't a field trip planned in the afternoon as there had been the days previously.  In the morning, I did some catch up on work email and then headed out to do some shopping in downtown Matsuyama with Tamara.  It also gave Tamara and I a chance to talk about plans for next year's joint study abroad program to Matsuyama.  Drawing from our previous experience with public transportation, we decided to take the tram back towards campus and grabbed lunch at the cafeteria on campus.  Each lunch experience is an adventure as I never know quite what it is that I am getting.  Thankfully I have been pretty lucky and enjoyed most of the food I have tried.

After lunch I attended a Japanese manners class that the Coordinator of the international center at Ehime University conducted for our students in preparation  for their home stays with Japanese families over the weekend.  Although I wasn't planning on participating in a home stay, I found the class very insightful and had wished that I had know all the information covered before I left for the trip. I discovered that not only is gift giving an important part of Japanese culture (which I did know), that gifts are typically wrapped.  Hearing this, I smarted recalling that the gift I had given the University President the day before wasn't wrapped.  I was told that Japanese people don't expect Americans to do this, but I still felt like a schmuck.  I had planned to do more homework on Japanese culture before I left, but time simply didn't allow. I guess I will know for next time.

After class, I went to the Share House, the hostel where the students are staying to check out their digs.  It is not quite as I had envisioned it, but still pretty nice and all the students with whom I talked indicated they really liked it.  Shortly afterwards I returned to campus to see the students off to their host families and then went to dinner with the CLC and JJC faculty, Ruth and some faculty from Ehime.  At the suggestion of one of the Ehime administrators, we went to a seafood restaurant tucked off the beaten path that translates as The Fisherman's Boss.  It had several huge tanks of fish of various kinds, including three sea turtles (which I verified that the Japanese do not eat, but are rather for show).  Dinner consisted of several courses, starting with a huge platter of fresh sushimi.  I tried the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage of sake for the first time and even gave octopus a try.  I really liked the sake, but wasn't a big fan of octopus.  I was a bit surprised that it was a big meatier than I had expected.  By the fifth course, we were all stuffed and ready for bed.  It was a delightful time and I thank Ruth and Ehime University for a wonderful night and their gracious hospitality.  ( I took photos of this dinner but used my other camera and don't have the ability to upload them at this time.)

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