Category Archives: homestay


– Junko has put a toy owl in the house`s main bathroom which hoots everytime you sit on and get off the toilet seat. Its the only reason I can think of to look forward to leaving tomorrow. Creepy just doesn`t cut it.

– A thirty-something year old guy tried to pick me up a few days ago. It was pretty funny because I thought he needed directions or something, but instead he asked me if I had “time to go somewhere”. It was so unexpected that I started to laugh – obviously not the smartest thing to do but I couldn`t help it. We were in a pretty public place anyway so I wasn`t too worried. When I finally stopped laughing and gave him a super how-darest-you glare, he switched tactics and asked me how to get to kichijoji.
Of course this sort of thing can happen anywhere, but getting picked up in japanese would certainly be considered a novelty for most people, no? If anything, I admire him for trying his luck out on a gaijin. Wierdo.

– I`ve met with Hitomi (from the Jazz club) a couple of times and it seems that she`s having boy problems. As much as I felt bad for her, I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to give relationship advice in Japanese. She had supposedly confessed to a guy she works with and he turned her down twice already and when she wouldn`t let up, he told her not to call him ever again. Obviously once I got the gist of the story I was merciless. Stalker anyone?



One thing I forgot to mention about Junko is that she owns a Nintendo Gamecube. Yea, thats right, a gamecube. And what does she do when she`s not helping actors shape up or recording magazine tapes for the blind? She plays Legend of Zelda. Is that awesome or what? Today we went to a bookstore together because she needed to `get something`. Turns out that the something was a Zelda cheat book/walkthrough guide.
Yesterday after the hina matsuri lunch, her nephew helped her get past the level where you fight the three swamp monsters by getting the bomb from the swinging monkey (clearly I have not played Zelda), but this morning she got stuck again so we had to go all the way to the bookstore so that she could pass the level she is at. Even as I type now, hours and hours later, she`s consulting the book and playing at the same time. I reserve judgement over how using a cheat book affects the gaming experience, but either way its clearly cheating. I told Junko this and her reply was something to the effect of “I`m an old lady, what do you want from me…”

hina matsuri

Today was hina matsuri or doll festival, a day dedicated to girls, held annually on the third day of the third month. Its supposed to be a day when a family can wish the girls in the family a happy/successful/good life. The most unique feature of hina matsuri is the platform of dolls that people put on display in their homes. The dolls are supposed to represent Heian courts (Heian period = 794-1185; when The Tale of Genji, The Pillow Book were written), so you have dolls of the Emperor, the Empress, the ministers, the court ladies, musicians etc. They are usually displayed on a tiered platform which is covered with red carpet, with the emperor and empress at the top.
The dolls are inherited by the girls in a family; so Junko inherited her dolls from her mother and since she has no daughters, the next to inherit is her neice. Junko doesn`t have a full court of dolls, just the emperor and emperess and two other people. Still looks good though.
Her neice and nephew (28 yr old twins) came over to have lunch with her in celebration. We had the traditional chirasi zushi, which is basically vegetables and seafood spread over rice served in a huge wooden tub and sakura mochi (sweet rice cakes) for dessert.
The dolls are usually displayed until the morning of the fourth (it is said that if they are left out longer than that, the girls in the family won`t marry for another year!)

when you`re dumb, you`re dumb

I was coming back from Mitaka station by bus around five and I remember Junko saying the stop is fourteenth down the line and is called Nogawa (after the park). However, for some reason I got off at Osawa. I looked around and realised that I got off too early. After fifteen minutes of walking I got to Nogawa park and since it was almost sunset there was hardly anyone there. As I walked towards one of the park maps I saw a guy practicing his violin. I was in no hurry so I sat down to listen. He wasn`t bad and considering that he had had only two years of experience AND a so-called salaryman, he`s pretty amazing. We exchanged our contacts and he`s going to take me to Mikaka`s famous Inokashira park to sit in on a live concert next weekend.
That was really good and all, but I was still lost. Yes, I had arrived at the park right next to Junko`s house but I was still lost (in my defence though it is a HUGE park; 400 000 square metres). I honestly wandered around the park for two hours until finally I reached a 7-11. I saw an ancient looking taxi driver get out of his cab to get something from a vending machine. I showed him Junko`s address and asked him where the house was. He did one better and called Junko from his cell phone (I hadn`t called her before because I didn`t want to worry her) which was very kind of him. He got the directions from her and took me home.
On the way he started talking about himself and it turns out that he`s eighty something. He then asked me where I was from and when I told him I come from an American university but originally Egyptian he got really excited. I braced myself for the usual pyramid/cleopatra questions. But he said the last thing I ever expected him to say, “Do you know `al ahram`?” Say what? Al ahram translates to `the pyramids` and is the name of the most popular Egyptian newspaper. He explained that his brother used to study arabic and actually lived in Egypt for a number of years and he still receives Egyptian papers by mail. Small world.
When we got home, we found Junko waiting outside for us. They both started talking about me as if I wasn`t there, saying things like “not everyone is good at getting around in foreign places” and “don`t feel too bad, there are lots of people like you.” Needless to say, my pride was in tatters because I was being soundly dissed by a couple of senior citizens. After they had a good laugh at my expense, the taxi driver shot me a `maa al salama` (goodbye) and zoomed off.