Thursday, April 30, 2009

Unproductivity Paying Off

I was busy berating myself for being so unproductive this morning (it's a holiday in Japan) when I heard somebody down on the street call out my name. I opened the door and a girl was on a scooter to tell me that the marlin fishing boat was leaving in five minutes. Not much time, but I can work fast when marlin fishing is on the line.

We took off at 9am and were fishing in big swells by 9:30am. Marlin fishing is defined by long, long periods of monotonous trolling occasionally interrupted by an hour of chaos. Our interruption came at 1:30pm, when a marlin hit our right-most pole (of five). I was the first to hear it and I yelled up to the captain who kicked the engines into gear. I immediately jumped to the nearest pole to begin bringing loose lines in so they wouldn't get tangled in the fight. But on my second crank, another marlin hit the pole I was reeling! So I moved on to the next pole.

I saw one of the marlin jump half out of the water twice, but mostly I concentrated on reeling lines in quickly. The captain had a strange reaction to the situation, differing his normal strategy of putting the boat in gear and keeping the throttle on for many minutes. Perhaps he was also unsure by having two marlin on at once - it certainly confused me!

Unfortunately when I finally (after about 2 minutes) got to grabbing a pole with a marlin on it, both of them were gone. The first marlin somehow cut the line of the second and then he got off himself.

The remaining three hours of trolling were spent thinking about nothing but how I could/should have done things differently. (Ordering the bystanders to bring lines in, even if I can only do it with gestures, and keeping a better eye on the marlin rod to ensure the line stays tight.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Shellfish Collecting

One of the great things about the Japanese school system is the time allotment towards out-of-school activities. Today at Geruma we partook in something Okinawans have been doing for thousands of years: picking shellfish off the exposed reef during a minus tide.

[carpet of coral]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Japan...

Where there's food to be served, there's women:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Homemade Pasta

This year I have decided to learn to make more food dishes. It's a good skill to have, always. I've learned about a half-dozen Japanese recipes and am branching out into Western dishes that I enjoy, but cannot buy the ingredients for here (instead I make them). The most recent foray was with my friend, Emina. We followed this video to learn how easy (and time-consuming) it is to make pasta from hand. It was an awesome experience and the pasta was far better than anything from the store.

[Emina with our dough rolled out to the edges of my rolling cloth]

[These finished noodles only took about four minutes to cook]

[The sauce and the garlic toast were also homemade]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Eating Over-ripe Food

I remember making a soup last year that was a weak attempt at copycatting a chicken soup I'd been taught. I didn't have any chicken, so I substituted fish (still maintaining the chicken broth base) and also threw in some pumpkin because I was short on other vegetables. It didn't turn out well, but I'd made a lot of it. I kept chipping away for a week, each time knowing I wasn't going to feel very good after eating. Eventually I finished it and complimented myself on the determination I showed at eating through the acidic flavor it had and the discomfort it caused.

Yesterday I made some of my baked tuna fillets into a gourmet tuna salad. I looked up some recipes and settled on a combination of curry powder, yogurt, mayonnaise, and some other things. These were all in addition to the two (opposite) ways the tuna had originally been cooked. It was quite a mish-mash and, if you've guessed correctly, it didn't taste good at all. My head was sorta throbbing afterwards, but I didn't draw a correlation.

Until tonight, when I continued to eat the same tuna (which has been cooled and reheated at least 3 times) and my head really throbbed and now I feel terrible. It kills me to do this, but I think I am going to throw out the last serving.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Beach Opening Ceremony

It's officially summer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I regularly follow a blog called U.S.S. Mariner, which is about the Seattle Mariners baseball team. I don't read because I'm a big baseball fan, but because I am intrigued with their approach at judging success in baseball, which is solely to use statistics.

Ichiro, who came off the disabled list today, hit a grand slam late in the game. He had a good day, with 2-3 hits total. After the game I went to the site and they had a new thread up titled "That's why he gets the exclamation point folks". Sometimes the writers use nicknames for players, but they always follow Ichiro's name with an exclamation point because they really like him.

I decided to be clever and post Ichiro's name the way he spells it: イチロ! I checked up later and there were some references to my post, most notably one from a guy who wrote "okinawadave, Ditto, and I don't even know what you posted."

I felt really cool for this. I'm somewhat conscious of how bad my Japanese is, but it's awfully nice to be reminded that I do know something. I remember going to a Mariners' game with my parents just before leaving for Japan and thinking that I would love to return to America able to ask Ichiro for his autograph in Japanese and make small talk while he's signing. I know I can do that now.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Running and Fishing

This past weekend I ran the Ie-jima half-marathon. It's my last of the season, I promise. I went to run with some friends, but they were scared I would be too fast so they opted against my company. Fortunately a guy from Zamami was there with the goal of breaking two hours, so I ran with him and we beat the goal by two minutes.

[those are not drops of sweat, but rather bubbles in my skin - it was really hot]

Sunday morning at 4am I woke up with my friend, Vaughn, and we drove north to a port where we met five others who I'd organized for a chartered fishing trip. We went 25km offshore for 12 hours of fishing, which was 11.5 hours too long for two people. But the rest of us combined for about 70 tuna and bonito. We had a good time with a Japanese captain who did a great job keeping us on fish all day.

[Vaughn with a fish on, Kerri standing by with the net]

[me with a fish in - these little suckers put up a nice fight, and taste extremely good]

Thursday, April 9, 2009

First Day of School

The school year begins in April. I was ready to write a post about how annoyed I was that we had to set the gym up (many, many hours and many, many people) again, just two weeks after graduation, to celebrate the same people. This ceremony is for the 1st graders, who just graduated kindergarten, and the junior high first graders who just finished 6th grade. The celebration is pretty redundant.

But, how can I remain annoyed in the faces of these 6-year-olds? They are so cute! See below:

[This backpack design is required through sixth grade, but the color choice is up to them. Love those stand-out blues.]

[Big and small]

[Introductions at today's celebration for incoming pre-schoolers]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Beach Trash

The popular beaches are relatively trash-free because people who care pick up a few pieces. But when you get away to less visited beaches - and places that get one visitor a year - the toll of 'things that float' is seen.

[I sunk up to my knee without touching bottom]

My bet is that most people who bought these water bottles didn't expect they would find their way to the ocean. The best way to make sure your water bottle doesn't land on a distant shore? Don't buy it to begin with.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tokyo Apartment

When I was in Tokyo I stayed with a friend whom I met on Zamami last year. Yuki lives with her boyfriend in a real-life Tokyo apartment, which means it's very small.

[The kitchen, from the front door]

[One of two rooms, this is the small one. It ends where that bookshelf ends on the right]

[The big room. I'm standing with my back against a wall]

[The bathroom was the best]

[Here's why: see the spots where your knees land when you sit down? It was a battle to close my legs enough to fit but open enough...]

[The shower was awesome, but I wouldn't have wanted to tackle it without understanding Japanese. That's an on-demand water heater, which is popular in Japan]

[Dinner and the girl they were trying to hook me up with]

Their apartment costs around $650/month - a far cry from the $50 I pay for my apartment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009