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Amparo Bertram

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06:39 am: How long till mango season?
School was...well, it was the last half-day before a week of school festival, so many of the students' minds were elsewhere. Two of my classes were devoted to handing back exams, and though we tried to hold class in the third, half the students did nothing but chat (or doodle pictures of poop, which is apparently a huge attraction for Japanese students, who especially enjoy "disguising" it as soft-serve ice cream).

We then took off for Kusatsu to hunt for a new sofa. Unfortunately, the main department stores and home center we tried only had ONE couch, just in different colors, and it was smaller than I wanted. One upper-scale department store had better options, but they all cost way more than I was willing to spend. We looked up furniture stores in the phone book and walked around looking for them. (Have I mentioned how INSANE the Japanese address system is?) We could find the right neighborhood without much trouble, and we even managed to find the right block with a bit of searching--keep in mind that blocks are not necessarily numbered consecutively, so block 5 could be next to block 4 or block 13 or block 32 or whatever--and the buildings within each block are also not numbered consecutively, so we had to circle the entire block to try to find the right store. Even after all this walking, the stores were either closed or had nothing in them but a few wooden planks. Huh?

So, the search for a couch was a bust. We checked out the movie listings to see if we could catch the Naruto movie, but they only had one showing at 11am, so that didn't work either. We did, however, come across this statue called "Time Traveller" of a man with speed lines, and that was pretty cool.

We decided we were getting hungry, but we wanted to try eating at the Thai place near my apartment, so we headed back to Moriyama and hung out for a little over an hour until the restaurant opened. We sat in the food court of the local department store while we waited, and I amused myself by reading their banners. One of the stores sells takoyaki--donut-hole-sized snacks that consist of a small piece of octopus baked inside batter. Its banners announce that it will sell takoyaki *starting from one piece*. We tried to imagine someone coming in and ordering *one* takoyaki. @_@ The banners then announce that you can order your takoyaki as takeout, but the minimum order is six pieces. ...So that means if you order only one piece, they won't let you leave the store until you eat it?

Ah, Japan, you so crazy.

We went to the Thai place, which is quite small, though the atmosphere is great. It's furnished all in rough wood, with Thai statues and other decorations, and they were playing highlights from a Thai pop concert on a TV set high on one wall. Practically every item on the menu has some kind of meat, but we ordered the Pad Thai and carefully requested that it not have any meat--or shrimp--in it. It was FANTASTIC. Definitely worth waiting for. Not only that, the servers were constantly refilling our water glasses, which is surprising in Japan (where they tend to serve you and then leave until you're done). They had a mango/rice concoction on the dessert menu that I wanted to try, since it had appeared in a book I just read about some characters meeting in Thailand, but unfortunately they only serve it in April and May. <sigh>

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