Gomi’s guest post
July 22, 2009 § 1 Comment
Hello readers of “Jokidoki Around the World”! You probably know me as Gomi.. I’ve been Joanna’s unofficial tour guide here in Kyoto and she gave me the “assignment” of writing a guest blog.
Going around Kyoto with Joanna has been pretty fun. I hadn’t seen Joanna since four years ago when she showed me around Berk. Even though it’s been a while, it didn’t take us very long to start being lame and banter with each other. I have to say… usually when I go around Japan I like not sticking out as a foreigner and practicing my Japanese as much as possible, but that’s pretty hard to do when you’re with a Korean-American girl who insists on saying “OHAIYOGOZAIMASU!!” (translation: good morning) to store people at 6 PM and 9 PM in the evening.
Probably the thing I will remember the most about this trip is how I learned that Joanna really, really likes animals. I knew she liked puppies and stuff—in fact, a lot of us called her “puppy” in high school because she resembles one—but I didn’t think she would fix her itinerary based on the animals we would see.
For instance.. during dinner on her first night, Joanna told me that she really wanted to fish with Japanese fishermen. When I told her that I highly highly doubted that the serious-looking fishermen at the Kamo river (decked out in rubber boots and using like 17 ft. poles) would be okay with Joanna jumping in and wanting to fish, she said that it was okay .. she’d just sit there and make friends with them. Okay Joanna.
Then when deciding what to do, one of her first questions was, “where can I see animals in Kyoto?” That’s how we ended up at Iwatayama Monkey Park, or as Joanna thought it was called, “Ishiwarya Monkey Park.” Joanna took like 9203482093849204 pictures of monkeys there and was thrilled to feed them peanuts and apples out of her hands.. personally the feeling of monkey fingers on my palm grossed me out a little and a lot of them looked super spoiled/fat from taking advantage of tourists all day, but Joanna had tons of fun.
The day after, when we went around Gion and Nishiki Market, our itinerary didn’t involve animals but that didn’t stop Joanna from incorporating them into her experience… at the end of the night, when we were getting on our bikes and heading back to my dorm, she saw these super small baby kittens. Joanna of course stopped and crouched down to get as close to them as possible and took a gajillion pictures again. Hehe it’s actually kind of cute how Joanna turns all “awwwwwwww” when she sees baby animals.. repeat similar incident the next day at Osaka in a random pet shop near a bunch of pachinko parlors..
But the grand finale would be the deer at Nara. Joanna was SO excited for the deer and saved it for her last full day, and she even went through the trouble of finding clothes that would make her look more deer-like. Meaning, she sat and went through her entire suitcase just to dress up for the deer. Instead of the usual t-shirt, jeans/shorts, she put on a yellow dress and even some mascara (“to look more doe-like”). After arriving at Nara, Joanna had a ball with the deer.. hugging them, frolicking with them, making me step through deer poo to take pictures of her.. and then she made the crucial decision to buy deer crackers. I’m pretty sure she has or she will write about it, but… she basically got mauled by deer and ended up with a bruise on her foot courtesy of a hungry deer. At that point we had only seen Kofukuji (a small temple) and the deer.. there were also a ton of other shrines, temples, and famous stuff like the biggest wooden Buddha in the world.. but after Joanna was betrayed by the deer, she announced that she was done with Nara. We got sushi and some matcha ice cream which made the experience a little less painful.
Hmm… the other hilarious thing is Joanna’s attempts to do things on her own. For example, at dinner, she insisted on ordering a bowl of rice on her own, telling me to “not say a word.” I kept my mouth shut while she slowly asked for rice in Japanese.. the guy asked her a question and Joanna answered in English “I want to order one.” I don’t think he knew any English (or at least wasn’t expecting it) because he looked confused… I felt too awkward not to do anything so I jumped in and asked in Japanese. LOL turns out the question he was asking her was if she wanted white rice. I know Joanna probably felt annoyed that I stepped in but I think I just have a low tolerance for awkward moments… although it does make for good comedy.
All in all, having Joanna here was pretty great. It was really effortless to reconnect after four years, and we got to have some awkward, funny, and sweaty memories. If anything, being with Joanna reminded me of what it was like to first be in Japan and the initial amazement and curiosity at all the things that have since become ordinary (see: banana man at grocery store). After she leaves tomorrow I’ll have to return to less adventurous things like my research, but I’ll definitely look back in these couple days fondly. Save travels Joanna! Have fun at Tokyo and returning home… maybe I’ll see you in Korea 😉