So as me and Austin were talking about here, money is way different here. First and foremost, you have to carry cash. “Just pay by credit card” is not an option. A fair number of places don’t take any credit cards and most won’t take mine. So, I have begun to carry cash everywhere. But cash doesn’t just mean a wad of bills. Coins are a must, as they have up to 500 yen (~$6.50) coins. I have devoted a whole pocket to coins, which just makes everything seem a bit off. First of all, there is one thing in my left pocket (coins) and there are three things in my right (wallet, key, pocket knife). In America I just kept my wallet (the largest item) in one pocket and everything else in another. Here the wallet has to share space with two other items. The reason the coins have to be by themselves is because if you try to put any else in there it becomes quite a pain to pull out and pay with change in a hurry. You see, if the key is mixed in with the coins, you have to pull it out first which risks knocking coins on the floor. The same risk applies to the pocket knife. The pocket with the wallet and stuff is usually heavier too. All in all, it just seems off. I guess I will get used to it.
I realized that I never put my thoughts about walking through the park. At first I thought it was a bit odd when I saw people sitting on benches and walking their dogs so late at night and then it dawned on me; I am an American in the middle of a Japanese suburb’s park taking pictures at 9:30 at night. I win on the creepy scale. In that light, no one else seems too bad.
As I was walking, one of the people I stumbled upon was a young-ish man (30’s or so) feeding about 5 (presumably stray) cats. Not just putting food down for them. He knew them; they acted like they were his pets. None would come anywhere near me but they strolled right up to him and rubbed against his legs. He would bend down and scratch behind their ears and they all just gathered around like their master had just come home. I wonder if he comes every night. If so, how long has be been doing this? Why? Maybe I should ask. I wanted to take a picture because it was such an interesting scene but none of them turned out particularly well.
I did go to the Lutheran church. It was fun in an odd sort of way. Very traditional, high-church style. I was greeted by the pastor, an kind, elderly man who I will discuss later, and told that church was upstairs. It was a 1960s or 70s modern style room, like the Fellowship Hall in Gainesville. The pews had been repaired multiple times by someone who didn’t seem to really know what they were doing except putting in more bolts and more brackets (I suspect the pastor). The congregation was interesting too. White, a darker man who I later found out was from Madagascar, Japanese, and a few others that I wasn’t sure about. Some with families, some alone, some with a single friend. No single stereotype would seem to fit. As soon as church started I realized I was in for something a bit different from my normal contemporary baptist service. Readings sung to the audience in tune (well, a bit out of tune actually) with the organ. We then responded in a flowing song-like sentence. There were a number of those as well as some old hymns out of a hymnal. The sermon was short and, at the end, we received communion from the pastor. Afterwards I was invited to Sunday school with coffee and snacks. (I like that part of church here. It seems that every gathering is accompanied by free food.)
There I learned a few things about the church from the pastor. First of all, most of the members are a bit nomadic. There for a month and gone. There for 6 weeks, gone for 8. The current pastor is retiring at the end of October after something like 30 years of service. It is quite evident that he has settled into his role. He loved to sit and talk and just mull things over. As he said, the people changed often, but I think he just watched them all go by, talking and gleaming what he could. The next pastor is going to be from Canada. I guess I will have to see how he works out.
After church I went to the flea market as planned. One guy had a WWII Japanese flag with a bunch of signatures on it. I really wanted that but it was 10,000 yen (about $130). I ended up at a movie poster stall. He had all sorts of fun stuff. One I think I am going to have to buy. It was this terrible sci fi looking one with rats attacking people. I bought a WWII movie poster, a car racing movie poster (“The Green Helmet”), and a big wall scroll picture. All for about $60. I thought I did pretty decently. You can see the pics of the posters and such if you click the facebook pics tab at the top and go to the “room” album.
There is a lot more I could talk about, but I suppose I won’t as it is past 11pm and I have already wrote almost 1000 words according to this little counter below. I guess that is a lot. Not really sure how long a normal article or such is.