Hello again Internet peoples. Sorry this update is a little later than I intended. I got super sick on Monday night, which is when I had originally wanted to update. Probably one of the worst sick experiences I've ever had. But strangely, by the time work rolled around, I was a lot better, aside from being exhausted from lack of sleep. Don't worry! I'm good now!
    In all honesty, not much happened this weekend. I only had one day off since I worked on Sunday, though I did do a little grocery shopping. I even bought some sake, but it turned out to be the worst sake I've had in Japan. Most other sakes I've tried were smooth and tasted a bit sweet. This one felt like it was burning my throat after taking a sip. I have to get some advice on decent sake before I try to make another purchase. I don't want to make that mistake again.
    On Monday, I had a bike ride around town. I went from downtown to the station to the outskirts, where all the really big chain stores are. Didn't really buy much, just a couple CDs I've been trying to find for two months! Seriously, I thought they'd be easier to find in Japan, seeing as they are some of the most well-known shamisen players in the country, but I guess shamisen isn't as popular as I thought it was... 残念。(T_T)
    It was at a big thrift/recycle store too, so the two CDs were probably worth the equivalent of... I'd say $13 or $14. Not bad, but I guess they could have been a bit cheaper. At least the condition is like new. There was a ton of other cool stuff in there too. For maybe 1000¥ or so I could have bought an old style Playstation. And for 2100¥ they had a classical guitar which, while scratched up pretty bad, still sounded pretty good. When I can think of a way to transport such a thing to my apartment I might procure it.
    Well, I do have work today, so I think I'm going to get started with breakfast and then get myself ready to entertain and teach some kids. And adults, though I don't do nearly as much dancing for them. (^-^) じゃね〜!
Another thing I found at the recycle store had a name and custom, beautiful inlays on the fretboard. That seal is the Tokugawa family seal. It's probably the most well known in Japan, since the Tokugawa family served as the Shoguns of Japan for more than 200 years. I was in love.
    It's been two weeks since I last wrote, so I guess it's about time for an update. That and I'm sitting on a train for an hour, so it passes the time. Honestly, I don't have a lot to report on. Just the everyday working, failing at cooking, and watching some DVDs.
    This weekend was the one that was really exciting. I met a couple of guys the other night (it was obvious they were not Japanese) from Germany. Lucky me, because they took me to a club they tend to visit from time to time, and it was a great time. Expensive, but great. The way they work is remarkably different from clubs in the states. And I'm quite happy with the variations.
    Yesterday, I volunteered to read to some young children and play some games at the library, and I must say, those kids were the best hokey pokeyers I've ever seen. Then volleyball, as I do every Sunday night, followed by karaoke! Man, do I love karaoke. Especially with people who also have such a great time there. For real, I have a hard time keeping up with some of the others.
    And today I took a journey to Koriyama, which is the nearest sizeable (not big) city to Aizu. Just kinda checked looked around and got a little change of scenery. There's a movie theater there too, and I watched one of the new releases in Japan, "Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki." I thought it was pretty good, but I was only working off I a basic understanding of Japanese. Still, I enjoyed it.
    And as we speak (or as I write; I'm learning how little the English language makes sense) I'm headed back to Aizu to meet a friend and maybe have some dinner. Who knows?! The possibilities are ENDLESS!
    Aaaaand... That's all I've really got right now. I'm surely forgetting something that I'll regret not adding later, but it's not like it will ruin anyone's life if I miss something... I think. Anyway, keep it real, and maybe in a few weeks I'll have something to say about sake (I'm thinking of checking out some breweries and stuff)! じゃね!
    Okay, I've sufficiently put off writing for long enough! ごめん, I don't hate writing or anything, I'm just a born procrastinator. So how do I sum up everything I've done in Japan since I got here? I don't really have a clue, but let's give it a shot anyway.
    Training was in Omiya, and we (the other trainers and I) also got to check out Shibuya and Harajuku. Tokyo really has quite the extensive array of options for shopping. I tried so many types of food I can't remember it all. Ramen, udon, yakiniku, okonomiyaki, tofu, pan, just about everything. I also got to try karaoke, which is actually pretty different from karaoke in America. Instead of just singing in front of a bunch of strangers in a bar, there are a bunch of separate rooms that you "rent" for the night with your friends. Great fun!
    THEN, about three weeks ago, I left Tokyo to come to Aizu Wakamatsu. It's not anywhere near as big, but so far, I'm loving it. The first weekend was full of parties and going to restaurants for my welcome and the departing teacher's farewell parties. The restaurants were mostly izakaya (kind of like tapas, everyone shares, but Japanese style), though one night we followed that with some karaoke. Again, loads of fun.
    That same weekend, I went to Tsurugajo, which is a five story castle right in the middle of the city! The inside is now a museum, and the top is open, which makes for an amazing view. I bet in April and May, when the sakuras are in bloom, the place will be packed with people admiring the sight.
    The past two weekends, I've played volleyball with people from the Aizu International Association, followed by dinner. We leave at about 4:45, and I don't get back in my apartment until 1 or 2 in the morning in most cases. And today, after going to sleep at about 3, I woke up at 8, had some breakfast, and went to Iimoriyama, the closest mountain to my apartment. Did I mention that my apartment has an unbelievable view of the mountains, as well as the top of Tsurugajo?
    Iimoriyama is historic because in 1868, a group of teenage boys in a unit called the Byakkotai (White Tiger Brigade) committed ritual mass suicide on the side of the mountain. There were 19 boys in all, ranging from 14 to 17 years old. The other members of the brigade were killed in battle, and their tombs still stand on the mountain as a memorial. Pictures to follow. It wasn't much of a hike (which is what I had originall intended) but it was still a heck of an experience.
    Well, I'm going to end it there. Tonight I'm heading to dinner with some people I met last week. Then tomorrow is back to work for week three as the only foreign teacher in the Aizu Wakamatsu branch! I'll try to be better with but updates, but if I fall behind again, please comment and let me know I'm being awful! So until next time, じぁね!