You Seek Meaning? Then Listen to the Music, Not the Song

Second post today, woo!  At this rate, I’ll catch up to the present….sometime next year….oh dear….

On my Unzen trip post, I mentioned that I had gotten to know a few of the Chinese students.  After we got back, a bunch of us decided to go out and explore Nagasaki together.  It was sooo much fun!

First, we met up on Saturday.  I had asked a bunch of the other American students if they wanted to tag along, but they were too intimidated by the idea of spending the entire day communicating in Japanese.  Gen and I collaborated with Ryou and Ryuu to set up a time and a plan, but only they were actually successful in getting others to come. *tears*

So, on the day of the meet-up, Gen and I arrived at Sumiyoshi (a bus station near a well-known shopping district) and saw the Chinese students had already arrived.  It was Ryou, Ryuu, Ra (those were the only Chinese dudes), Cho, Han, and three other Chinese girls.

We had planned to just go see temples, but all the Chinese girls wanted to go to the Penguin Aquarium, so we all boarded the bus to go see that first.  (Yes, it really is “just” a penguin aquarium)


Honestly, it wasn’t that impressive, but the fact that I paired up with Ryou and we spent about an hour just trying to understand the signs together made it really fun for me. (There’s nothing quite like trying to understand something written in your mutual second language that you both don’t understand…but you have to use that second language to try and understand it together because both of you don’t speak the other’s language….)

I got a great picture of Ryuu and Ryou together at the aquarium (I tried to sneak up and get a picture, but when I said “Cheese!” they were like “No, no!  Let us pose first!” xD)  (Also, I’d like to point out that there is a “No flash photography” sign in this picture…that has the flash on…*facepalm*)

(Ryuu is the tall one on the left, Ryou is on the right)


And then we all took a picture together on the pier outside the aquarium:


(If you’re wondering who the other white guy is, that’s Nathaniel, another American student who’s in my Japanese class.  He decided to tag along when we met up with him at the aquarium)

After we rode the bus back (each way the bus was about 35 minutes), we headed off to Sofukuji Temple.  We stopped in a few smaller temples on the way, but when we got there, we had to pay the entrance fee, then we went inside and took some pictures and stuff.  There was this really nice older Japanese lady that we talked to who wanted to know where we were all from and then she gave us directions to the next place we wanted to go.  She even took a picture of all of us together:


After that though, Ra and three of the Chinese girls went home because they had worn impractical shoes and/or were sick of being eaten alive by mosquitoes like the rest of us.  (By this point, I was so covered in mosquito bites on my arms, legs, hands, and feet that I just didn’t care anymore).  So the rest of us continued on to Kofukuji Temple, but there was an entrance fee for that one, too, so we decided to just sit outside it and rest for a bit.

We wanted to go see Nagasaki’s night view from Mt. Inasa (it’s ranked as the 3rd best night view in the world), but it was still early, so we wandered until we found a small shrine and sat there to share whatever food we had brought with us.  For whatever reason Ryou ALWAYS has Castella in his bag (castella is essentially pound cake, but it’s something Nagasaki is famous for).  He claims that he always carries food because he’s always hungry. xp

After we ate and chatted for a bit, we decided to head for the streetcar to get to Mt. Inasa.  On the way there, we went up this hill and Ryou was like “Let’s go! Let’s go! Faster!” running ahead of everyone but then Ryuu shouted after him “The number one fastest is the number one idiot.” Ryou slowed down after that. xD

When we got to the streetcar stop, I got this great picture, which we all then used to mock Ryou as well.  (Just look at that posture xP)


I told him he looks like he’s saying “Hey, look, I’m so cool and awesome and stuff” in this picture and he was like “WHAT?! No, no, no, why….”  xD (The pink thing is Gen using a plushy he bought to keep me from getting his picture)

So, we all got to the top of Mt. Inasa at about 5:30, but it was still too early, so we explored a bit and found out that there was a Deer exhibit and a Monkey exhibit (like zoo exhibits) near the bus station to the observation platform, so we went there first.  Ryou was like “Where are the monkeys?  I want to see the monkeys!”, but Ryuu just pointed at him and said “here.” xD  The face that Ryou made was the most hilarious thing (without any words, it said “Really?  Really, bro?”).  Then (I guess he must have seen it in a movie or something) Ryou said something that really surprised me.  In English, he said “I thought you were my brother! My heart is broken.” I thought it couldn’t get any funnier, but then Ryuu looked over at me, winked and said in English “I’m a heart-breaker.”

Oh god, I almost died laughing right there.

(I would like to point out, Ryuu actually speaks English fairly well, but Ryou doesn’t, which is what made this situation even better.  Ryou actually has asked me to help him learn English and he’ll teach me Chinese, which is going to be AWESOME….trying to learn Chinese through Japanese will be quite a trick though…=p)

Anyway, after that hilarious diversion, it was finally time to see the night view.  It wasn’t super exciting, but it was extremely beautiful.


On our way back down at about 7:15 or so, Ryuu kept complaining about being hungry (which was kinda weird because he’d been our guide for the whole day so he seemed really mature and stuff; he was the leader because his Japanese is FAR better than the rest of ours: to put it in perspective, I’m in Japanese 4, the highest class that any of the American students got into, he’s in Japanese S, the level above Japanese 7 and he also speaks decent English; so yeah…he basically makes all of us feel stupid 90% of the time).  Anyway, so he kept saying “I’m soooooo hungry.   Sooooo hungry.”  And Ryou (finally getting a little payback) saw the vending machine for animal food by the deer exhibit and said, “Okay, you want to eat that?  You’re my brother, so I’ll buy it for you. *smirk*”  (I could listen to the two of them go at each other all day, it’s so funny)

I have to say though, it’s weird how well we all get along.  I mean, we don’t understand all of what each other says, but by paying attention to body language and mood, we all sort of understand each other and have a ton of fun.  (Although, knowing enough Japanese to understand their jokes was one of the best parts for me =D)

Moving on to day 2 (this is gonna be a long post…again…oops)

After we’d been hanging out all day the day before, I talked to Ryou on the way home and asked him about his plans for Sunday.  He said he was free and Saturday had been so much fun, so we worked it out and all met up the same time the following day for more sightseeing together.  This time, I did manage to get one of the other American students to come.  His name is Warren (he’s from Colorado, too) and I have to give him credit for having the guts to come.  He’s only in Japanese 1, so he understood very little of what everyone said all day.  Ryou and Ryuu would try to use English with him though (Ryou only knows a little English, but what he does know is hilarious).  Ryou told us that in the movie Titanic, there’s that famous line, right? “If you jump, I jump.”  He said that if they were Chinese, it would have been, “You jump, I push.”  (in English) xD

So, we met up again at Sumiyoshi and headed to Koshi-byo (the Confucian shrine in downtown Nagasaki).  Ryuu and Ryou asked if I had an interest in China; I said that I did so Ryou spent the next hour and a half explaining everything in the temple and the attached museum to me.  Not only what everything was, but also why it was important to Chinese people or history.  (There were English descriptions on things as well, but they weren’t nearly as thorough or interesting)


For example, Ryou was explaining to me about how dragons are viewed in Chinese culture.  The different types of body parts on a Chinese dragon stand for different attributes.  They have the body of a snake, the claws of a bird, the horns of a deer, etc. and stand for bravery, wisdom, and a bunch of other things.



I also practiced my Chinese pronunciations of things…but apparently I really really suck at Chinese, so it made Ryou cringe every time…oops.  Ryuu dropped in on us from time to time to add details, but since he was the leader (again), he would swoop off to check on the other members of our group.


(This was Ryuu in the gift shop.  He thought he looked funny, we thought he looked like a murderer…I guess it’s open to interpretation…)

As we were coming out of the museum, Ryou spotted a calligraphy practice station (a place for tourists to try calligraphy).  He sat down and proceeded to write my name in Chinese (I think he said the pronunciation was something like “Lei Bei Ka”).  It’s SO COOL.


Then we went over to Oura Catholic Church which honestly wasn’t very impressive.  It was just a church.


From there, we headed over to Glover Garden.  Again, to us it wasn’t super exciting because it was just an English-style house with a big English-style garden, but it was still fun to go together.  Mostly, we had fun looking at the fish and turtles in the various ponds.


That’s Ryou, by the way.  I asked him if he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt to look cool (honestly, WHY? It was so freaking hot that day) and he was like “WHA-?! No, no, no!”  He’s hilarious whenever I accuse him of trying to act cool.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Japanese word for “cool” is the same word as the one for “handsome.” xD


After seeing most of the garden, we headed out to get to China town because a festival was supposed to start there at 6.  We were still a little early though, so we took the long way around and found a playground;  we all took turns showing off how well we could do flips and stuff on the bars because apparently no matter where you’re from, competition turns everyone into five-year-olds. xP  (I couldn’t kick my legs up and over the bar to do a back flip, but I could do multiple front flips, which sent the yen in my pocket flying out xD)

At 6:00, we joined the crowd in the square to watch the performances at the Chinese Festival.  It was a really cool set of performances actually.  First there were kids doing a dragon dance, then adults, then a bunch of women (mostly) came out holding a huge dragon prop to dance with, too.  It was awesome, but Ryou said it made him homesick.  (Warren helped me record a bunch of the performance, so I’ll put that up on youtube soon)


At 7:00, we had to leave so the Chinese students could make it back to the dorms in time for dinner.  I’ve never had so much fun despite the fact that in our group we didn’t all completely understand each other.  =D

Anyway, more posts to come.  Love you guys ❤

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