This is Life

Friday, July 29, 2005

At Fuji Rock festival I saw Coldplay

Well, the shinkansen (bullet train) ride was pretty short actually. I am only 75 minutes to Tokyo from here by shink so that is great. I am really surprised by my situation, but I am probably in one of the areas closest to Tokyo. Niigata prefecture is really long and I am at the south end and am almost as far from Niigata city as I am from Tokyo. So, I think I'll be making plenty of trips to Tokyo. I am really, really, really happy about my location. It it so picturesque and looks a lot like the Swiss Alps, methinks. The thing is, we get a lot of snow here. We really aren't that far north, but for some reason we get as much snow as Hokkaido here. Go figure, I guess. Other than that, I haven't been able to explore my town too much yet, but I'll be getting my predecessor's car when she leaves.

Ok, so what's next? Oh yeah ... work. Um, well, the office is pretty boring and quiet at the moment because of summer break. I am actually looking forward to a little more chaos (I am sure I won`t be saying that for long). When I got picked up from the shink station we went straight to the school and I met some people, but most of the teachers are away right now. I have also been out to dinner with them a couple times and I have eaten Italian twice (I will try my third different Italian restaurant tonight, I hope). I have also gone to a soba restaurant. Cold noodles ... interesting. Actually, it wasn't bad and we had tempura too. This is pretty much Japanese junk food, but I'm not complaining. I have also met a handful of my students and have marked some of their essays. These kids are so sweet and funny and I am really looking forward to interacting with them. Oh, and a bunch of them wrote me letters welcoming me to Muikamachi and the high school. It was great.

I have also discovered the 100 yen shop (dollar store) or "Heaven on a stick" as my predecessor is fond of saying. They really are all they are cracked up to be. They actually have good stuff for a dollar as apposed to the junk they sell in N.America. Seriously, I think I could find a high-end hot-tub there if I keep my eyes open. And I have a Jusco here, which is basically like a Japanese walmart and so far it seems they have everything I could need (I'm sure I will find that this statement is not totally accurate eventually). Actually, now that I think about it, they don't have crushed tomatoes. They have canned tomatoes, but I can be a bit particular when it comes to ingredients. Anyway, it is nothing that a little food processing won't solve. They even have maple syrup. Italy didn't have maple syrup.

Oh, one other cool thing I got is my seal (stamp - don't know the name in Japanese ... maybe Hankou). My last name is now pronounced Ka-a-ku-ne-su and we (the teachers and I) were actually able to find some Kanji to go with my name and it kind of makes sense. I can't remember it exactly, but the 4 kanji represent flower-temple-mountain-river which can be fairly flexible in its meaning. You see, my last name literally means "church on a promintory." A promintory is a hillside that juts out into the sea, so it is surrounded by water. Anyway, it is a bit tough to explain the total significance without actually drawing it for you, but you 'll see it eventually somehow.

Ok, I could go on and on, but I must tell you about yesterday. Yesterday, July 29, was a very special day. On this day I went to the Fuji Rock festival and saw Coldplay. I was so bummed to not be able to see them in N.America because I would be in Japan and now I got to see them in Japan, and only 45 minutes from my town, nonetheless. The town the festival was in, Naebe, is kind of like Banff, but a lot smaller and less significant. It has a big ski hill (small by our standards) so that is the draw. Anyway, the event was on the ski hill and there were so many great bands here. I could not believe the lineup when I saw it. Go to and check out the lineup and maybe a map. Seriously, have a good look up and down the lineup and you will for sure see a bunch of bands that you'd want to see ... if not, you are crazy

I only had a pass for Friday (which cost 12,000 yen - regular price was 16 or 18,000 yen) so we got there around 2 and watched Cake, then Kaiser Chiefs, then The Music, then COLDLAY, then Foo Fighters. I don't mind Foo Fighters, but I gotta say that Dave Grohl (lead singer as well as former drummer for Nirvana) is absolutely hilarious. I won't bother go into detail, but if you ever get a chance to see them it is worth it. He was really funny. As for Coldplay, well, it would have been better if I could have gotten closer. I mean, I had to have at least 3 or 4 people in front of me so I was pretty far from the stage ... if you think 10 feet is far!!! That's right, I was right up front. There was a security guard who was being a pain about me not using my camera, but I guess that's his job. Unfortunately, my job was to get some good pics and videos. I tried, but haven't yet looked to see if they were any good. Oh, and during the show they did a 2-song acoustic set in the walking area in front of the stage. So, the entire band was literally right in front of us. Since the Japanese were a bit quiet I was actually able to yell out what songs they should play next. It was cool, but they didn't actually play the song I suggested. I guess that means it wasn't so cool, but I don't care, I was giddy as a school boy after his first kiss. We went up to the mountainside to watch Foo Fighters close and like I already said, they were good, but Coldplay was awesome.


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