It’s my last full day in Japan, and whew was it a whirlwind. Yesterday I came home and told okaa-san my tale of woe about not bowling, so okaa-san suggests that otou-san takes me bowling today. Naturally, we go. It was this random place, MK Bowling near Kamigamo Jinja that, were I at home in CT, I wouldn’t go to alone or in the dark out of fear of getting shanked. Alas, this is Japan, it was daytime and the place was actually pretty sweet. The first floor was some restaurant and the second floor had the lanes, although there were floors aplenty above it with other random and likely fun stuff. It was decked out with pastel rainbow couches (as in, sets of one color but the whole rainbow was accounted for in the entire collection), disco-y lights and a mirror wall. They were even blasting pop, which I knew half of and wow if that’s not a cool thing then I dunno what is.
Now, I’m bad at bowling and proud of it; it’s something I always do at least once in the summer with friends, if not more often, and try to hit up during winter break. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s not, but I only have so much free time to chuck balls at pins ya know? This is okay; otou-san said he too sucked. He often bowled in high school, apparently – even had his own shoes – but no longer is this the case. So we went into this together. Except not because despite pulling off a few strikes and spares in the first round and scoring a 108, otou-san kicked my ass five times over in the next rounds. I mean wiped the floor with me, sent me packing, crushed my dreams . . . the man is good. It was super fun, especially since he turned around from his first throw every time with this face that just said “son of a bitch, this is not what I was hoping for”, usually because of a 7-10 split or some other weird collection of still-standing pins. He enjoyed it, I’m sure, he just had great faces the whole time.
As he proceeded to roll increasingly better, with a high of ~168 points, my clown self proceeded to get worse and worse. I think I peaked in game 2, took a slip down in round 3 and plummeted face first in chocolate milk when we went to round 4. Oh my god, my last game had 6 gutter balls. 6!!! I couldn’t believe it every time, sweet jesus I have no idea what went wrong but it was not good. On the upside, my total after the first 3 games was 292, so I’ll average that as ~97 points per game and call myself badass enough, had I stopped there. And yes, I say stopped there because I’m the one who begged for a round 4. Whoops – better start learning my limits. It was so much fun though, and otou-san really opened up during it; I got instructions on how to bowl, some fun stories about his bowling past and even some hearty laughs. Oh if only I’d known sooner that bowling was the way to his heart, we could’ve been bff’s and so much earlier! Zannen!!!
When we got home he was absolutely wiped and I was rearing to go. Okaa-san ended up taking me to her favorite ramen joint, which she always mentions but we’d never hit up, and it was so so good. I’m not super hot on ramen, at least not compared to the other options here, so I’ve honestly only had it once from a noodle shop and once from Doshisha cafeteria. Wow, this place blew those out of the water and make me wish I’d explored more ramen shops while I was here! The shoyu broth was bombin, the pork fell to nothing in my mouth and it was just explosive yumminess. Oh man, I am in love and need to go there when I come back. A++ my ramen-making amigos.
We got home around 2:30, where I got back into the packing game (curse all my shit to hell and back dear god why do I have any of this? why?!) and played sing-along ’til it was time to go. ‘Where?’ no one asks? To the AKP oshogatsu/welcome party of course! There are new spring-semester students, plus it was just new year’s, so they hooked us all up again at the Garden Palace and we partied. With no seats and buffet style food. I’ll admit, not as fantastic as take one way back in September, but I’ll take it. The saviour was the sake barrel they provided, of which I had 3 boxes since otou-san kept egging me on. I swear, I would’ve drank none of it had he not given me the eye and said “Liz? Sake, eh? Eh??”. Challenge accepted broski. Cue the music and my drinking skills. It wasn’t as good as anything I’ve drank with them, unfortunately, but it served its purpose in being yummy enough. They were freaking out over me getting home (we walked back) but it was all good in the hood and I was fine. After a couple of heartfelt hugs with my fellow fall students and the senseis (crying) we headed back home. I almost started crying.
When we got back it was to a long process of online flight check-ins, finalizing travel notices on my credit cards, yada yada all in that vein of annoying things. Thank god it’s a short rush of irksome things. After that okaa-san and I had a moment, and by moment I mean she sat at the table and patched the crotch holes in my jeans for me because she is fantastic and I am a sad sad bean. It felt like the antics I always pull on my mom (even though for this, I told okaa-san I could just throw the pants out) and we bonded talking over zenzai and ice cream. What was funny was that before she patched them using otou-san’s old jeans, she said ‘mottainai‘ and had me try them on, a potential trade-off. Except for the fact that the man has -no hips- whatsoever and I couldn’t get the flaps closer than 5 inches, if even. Ha.
And so I sit here, sipping my mugicha, playing with Miao-chan, stressing over New Zealand and being hit with a sense of simultaneous comfort and sadness at where I am right now. Both in okaa-san’s adorable house here in Kyoto, and my life. This has been a fantastic 4-month chapter in my life, and I wouldn’t change anything about it (except maybe some laziness on my part – whoops). Kyoto is a second home to me, and it’s as much for the amazing people I’ve met here as it is the city itself. Cause let’s be real, Kyoto is pretty bombin’ as a city. But it’s hitting me, the fact that come tomorrow afternoon I’ll be stepping out to face the car garage one last time, saying farewell to otou-san who I’ve really just gotten to know, giving kisses to Miao-chan through a window and then riding off on a plane just hoping that I’ll make it back really soon to see my second family. I’m so grateful for everything that’s lead me up to this point, and as excited as I am to go to New Zealand and explore my passions there it’s also going to be really hard. I’m crying as I write this, because I’ve been putting off these thoughts until now, but they really are happy tears, if not tinged with a bit of early nostalgia for this part of my life.
I’m logging off now – I still have a bit of packing to finish up, some cuddles with the animals and a good bit more crying. After this I’m in transit, so a post tomorrow is unlikely (although I’ll try to post about it in a day or so). After that I’m in Wellington for the week and should be able to post, if not I apologize. Following Wellington, aka from he 14th on I start my new program with limited/no wifi and can give you no promises about the blog. I might cue up some posts to fill in later, or just write up something if I have connection. More details will come on that later, but I thought I’d keep y’all updated. That’s all for now, so as always, thanks for reading. Oyasuminasai.