Sayuri called me last Thursday and asked if I wanted to go with her to Matsue on Saturday. Knowing I was getting paid on Friday, I hastily agreed. So we headed north and had a good time shopping... well, I did most of the shopping.
We hit Imai first. Unless I'm confusing my stores, Imai has a home supplies section, a book section, and a CD/miscellanious section. The book section about the same size as the Barnes & Noble in Syracuse; the CD/misc. section is larger than the corresponding section at the Syracuse B&N. Sayuri wanted to go there, and I was glad, because I remembered to buy an application for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test; I want to take the Level 4 test in December (Level 4 being the easiest), and I don't know where to find an application in Nita-gun. I also found their English book section, which is all of six shelves (note, not six bookshelf units, but six shelves within bookshelf units). This was, however, a big step up from the English book sections I've found in Nita-gun, qui n'existent pas. I resisted the urge to pick up Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? and went instead for Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth and a color-illustrated original Winnie the Pooh book. Winnie the Pooh (mostly the Disney version) is huge here; Pooh-san, he's called. Snoopy is also very popular.
Next, we hit an electronics store, cos I wanted to buy a Canon WordTank G50. But this store didn't have the G50, so we went to McDonald's for lunch (the Big Macs and the fries taste the same, and they play outdated American music), and then to DeoDeo, another electronics store. There I found the G50... a thing of beauty.
I'm at the Nita BoE right now, and my supervisor Kawasumi is on the phone at the desk facing mine, talking about me and my kind. I can tell, cos he keeps saying "ALT." I've also picked out "eigo sensei" ("english teacher"), and "Sonya-san" (one of the ALTs before me).
Anyway, Sayuri asked the salesperson there if there was an English manual available, but there wasn't. I'd heard that English manuals were available for download online, so I wasn't too concerned. I ended up paying for it less than I would have if I'd ordered it from the above website, even before S&H costs, so I was happy. I also wanted to find some sort of USB memory stick, so I could transfer files from my laptop to a work computer, and finally get some photos posted. I was having difficulty explaining to Sayuri what I wanted, so I just walked around until I found something better: the Rio SU35. (Poorly Translated Site brought to you by BabelFish.) I got the 256Mb model, in a nice green color, and it weighs all of 40 grams. No English manual for that, either, but the saleswoman looked through the Japanese manual, and showed me that it was possible to change the menus to English, so that made me happy. Sayuri decided to purchase a cute little mini-disc player.
We went to a big department store, Saty, and there I bought a new bag, since all I've been using here is my everything-in-one-big-mess Adidas bag. The new one has five pockets, and is Crayola red. No longer will I spend thirty seconds at the cash register fishing for my wallet or change purse. I also found The GameBoy Game I Came to Japan Looking For: Harvest Moon for Girls.
Oh crap. Abe-san just came in--all the way from Yokota--to deliver to Kawasumi a stack of US tax forms. In English. So I imagine they're going to have a ball with that. I don't know how much of the process I'll be involved in, but I know that they're mostly for me to establish out-of-the-country residency, so I won't have to pay US taxes on the money I make in Japan. I also hear the forms have changed from years past, though that won't make any difference to me. Kawasumi looks positively delighted.
So, Harvest Moon for Girls is just like the regular Harvest Moon in that you run a farm and get to know the townspeople you live near, but in the regular version, your character is male and flirts with the ladies, and eventually marries one; clearly, this is is somewhat weird for most women. In HM for Girls, your character is female, and flirts with the fellas in town.
But better than HM, was the GBA game I found in Yokota the day before: Final Fantasy I & II. It owns. Now all I have to do is convince my supervisors that playing Japanese video games counts as "studying the language." :)
Then to the giant 100 Yen store; I forgot the name of it. But it is the size of, oh, your average local supermarket (read: not Kroger or Wegmans, but more like Peter's, if you know Syracuse). And everything costs 100 yen. Well, a few things cost 200 or 300 yen, but they are clearly marked, and are much fewer in number. I got some more bowls and plates and leftover containers, and some CDs of traditional Japanese music... some of which are more like remixes; I wouldn't consider bass guitar to be a traditional Japanese instrument. And some other fun stuff, too.
Oh, and a stop at Mister Donut and Baskin-Robbins, too. Yum....
The mp3 player that was supposed to have English text tucked away inside it? I've found how to change the menus from Japanese to English (or to Korean, if I like), but the selection won't take. I push the button, I hold the button, I push combinations of buttons, but the cursor just sits on "English," and nothing changes. There are some other problems with the device, namely the fact that it sometimes won't start up; it seems to crash as soon as I turn it on, and then won't work properly for hours. Fortunately, I kept the receipt, and there's a small DeoDeo in Nita, not far from my apartment, so I'll take it in there tomorrow.
Also, the English manual that was supposed to be so easy to find online is nowhere to be found. There are English manuals for older models, but I guess the G50 is too new. I did, however, get some help from someone on BigDaikon, who told me how to change the menu language to English; that helps a lot.
It's quarter to 6, and Kawasumi-san entreats me to go home. I have some shopping to do (nothing tasty to drink), and then one last dance rehearsal tonight before the big shebang in Nita tomorrow night; I haven't practiced all weekend, and it's a complicated dance, and I just realized no one will know what I'm talking about, since I explained it all in a "post" I wrote on my laptop, so just hold your breath, and I'll write more later.