One lovely weekend at the end of September, Okaasan asked if I wanted to come with the family to go….somewhere. (She said where we were going, but my Japanese wasn’t good enough yet to keep up with her super fast Japanese). So naturally, I said, “Sure!”
I turned out that we were going to Saikai Bridge (西海橋) out by Sasebo. In the morning, Kaori and Miho came over (with Shiho, Miho’s precocious 1 year-old daughter) and we all got in Miho’s car to drive to the bridge. I sat with Miho in the front while Okaasan and Kaori attempted to entertain Shiho in the backseat for the hour-long drive.
Once we got there, apparently Shiho had managed to tire herself out, so Okaasan stayed in the car to nap with Shiho while Kaori, Miho, and I set out to see the bridge. In truth, there are two bridges. One of them is old and the other is new; usually they are both open, but Kaori told me that if a typhoon is coming in, the old bridge is closed because they’re worried about how stable it is under those conditions.
We walked on the underpass of the new bridge for a while and I took some pictures of the scenery. Kaori said that the area around the bridges is absolutely stunning in spring because all the trees around the water are cherry trees and when they bloom all around the bay, the flowers fill the air and are reflected in the water. All the same, the view when we went was lovely:
After we had walked around for a bit, we headed back toward the car, but apparently we had another stop to make. Right next to the bridge, there was a marketplace called Toto Ichiba (“ichiba” means market) which sold tons of fish and related products. In a small arcade right next to it there was a crane game…for live lobsters. O.o I saw an old man playing it and he and his wife invited me over to watch while they tried to catch one.
Then we went inside the market and Okaasan met us in there with Shiho. (Okaasan usually carries Shiho on her back; there’s a special name for that kind of carry in Japanese, but I can’t remember it at the moment…) We walked around and Miho and Kaori were naming all the different kinds of fish for me while Okaasan tried to pick out some good fish to buy for dinners the following week. Kaori took Shiho and we walked over to see these live clams that were sitting in a deep tray of water. If you stuck your finger in the clams’ mouths just enough to tickle it and pulled back out really quick, it would snap shut, spitting out a jet of water. Kaori and I played at this for a while, but then a clam spit on Shiho and she was NOT having it. xD (Kaori has a fantastic sense of humor, by the way, as do most of the people in my host family =p)
When we met back up with Okaasan, we ran into some other foreigners, so I said hi. Apparently, they were from the military base in Sasebo. Okaasan didn’t really understand anything they said, so I translated for her and she laughed and greeted them in Japanese. They all looked at me like I had grown a third arm. “You can speak Japanese?!” they exclaimed. Seeing as we are in Japan, I’m not sure why that was such a shock, but apparently they couldn’t speak any Japanese, so I explained that I was an exchange student and the Okaasan was my host mom. (I just seem to be in a never ending cycle of explaining that; Japanese people are like, “Oh my god, a foreigner is using real words? How strange!” and other foreigners are like “Oh my god, you speak the language of the country we are both currently in? How strange!” -.-)
Anyway, so we got back in the car and stopped off at a couple of other places to pick up fresh vegetables and a snack (Taiyaki, basically a fat waffle stuffed with sweet goodness, and it was amaaaaazing) and then we went home. Sorted! (sorry, I had the urge to say that. I must be hanging around Max [the British exchange student] too much….)