Friday, November 26, 2010

Peanut butter, Potter, and the Pacific

This week has been nothing short of an emotional disaster. North Korea attacked us, my principal threw me under the bus in a confrontation with a psycho mommy, and one of my closest friends is leaving very unexpectedly in about four hours. But in the face of chaos and frustration and fear, I also was able to enjoy Thanksgiving evening with two fantastic American friends at an American steakhouse, Hana's face immediately after I talked her into trying eggnog ("Is this made of toothpaste?!"), and late-night hot chocolate with one of my absolute favorite Canadians. Life is just like that sometimes, I guess. The highs and lows all bundle themselves up together until I can't figure out if I'm laughing or crying or some strange combination of the two.

After the detours of the week, I'm going to jump back into my Japan Saga. We left off with me trotting down the sidewalk in Fukuoka with only one directive:

I asked the people at the hostel how to get to the Hawks Town Mall, and I had already accumulated three city maps, so I was completely confident in my ability to locate Potter. Fukuoka is a big city by most standards, but after living in Seoul for the last three months, it felt comfortable and quaint. It reminded me a little bit of Dayton, if Dayton ever built a subway and imported an alarming number of Japanese people.

My favorite thing about Fukuoka was that there were trees along the streets. For a girl who just six months ago spent multiple nights a week wandering around the park after work, nature has been something I've had an incredibly hard time not encountering on a regular basis. You can take the girl out of the corn fields, but you can't take the corn fields out of the girl... or something to that effect... Anyway, I took a lot of pictures of trees because I was so daggone excited, but the vast majority of people reading this blog can look out their window and see something green, so I doubt you really want to look at a bunch of pictures of Japanese trees. I'll show you one picture just to prove I saw some.

Yep, these are trees.

The mall was precisely where the map said it would be, and my first goal was to find the theater and purchase my ticket. The mall, however, was uber-distracting, and it took me nearly half an hour to remember where I was supposed to be heading.

I'm the one on the left.

Japan knows what I like.

When I got to the theater, I again assumed that there was no way I'd encounter an English-speaker, and I was fully prepared to mime out "Harry Potter." I approached the counter and said the name of the movie very slowly because in my head that magically translates my English into whatever language I'm currently needing. The teenage kid behind the counter smiled at me and politely asked if I'd like to see it in English. I considered this delightful new development. American movies in Korea are shown in English, and I had assumed that that would be the case in Japan as well. But seeing the movie dubbed over in Japanese pretty much guaranteed hilarity... until I found out the ticket was $23. I bought my ticket for the only English showing all day (not even IMAX!), and headed back out into the city for two hours.

Although I wanted to shop around the mall, that could be done after dark. The beach, however, was best experienced during daylight; I made a bee-line for the sand.

One of the reasons I chose that particular mall to see the movie was because it was located right along the beach. Technically, the waters belong to the East China Sea, but I think that's stupid because it's the same water as the Pacific Ocean. I'd never seen the Pacific Ocean, and I'm not going to consider this a failed attempt due to a technicality. I ate lunch with my feet in the Pacific, thankyouverymuch, and no silly map is going to convince me otherwise.

I approached the beach cautiously. There was no one else on the whole stretch of land, and it was entirely possible that the signs I passed on the way in said "Radioactive shark-infested waters ahead! Do not enter!" No one came running off the street to stop me, though, so I made my way toward the sand. It was a little chilly outside, but I wanted to say that I had at least touched the water, so I went right up to the edge. For some reason, touching the water with my hand didn't even occur to me; I kicked off my shoes and stuck my toe in. Then my whole foot. Then the other foot. Then I ran through the sand and splashed water all over my pants. Whoops.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time jumping and trying to take a picture of my flying shadow. I'm sure I looked like a complete fool, and I have photographic proof of about a dozen failures. If any of you can successfully complete this task, please let me know. I'll post the picture on here, even if I don't know you.

While I was playing, I noticed a pier jutting out into the water with a few fishermen on the end of it. Naturally, I needed to be there. The pier was covered in signs, but my desire to walk to the very end of it outweighed my concern for obeying the law, so I skipped to the end and pulled out my lunch: a peanut butter sandwich and Disney Princess fruit snacks. 

This moment, eating my sandwich and looking out onto the water, was the highlight of the entire trip. Although I was super-excited to go to Japan on my own, I was a little sad about it all. I love being spontaneous and adventurous, but sometimes life just isn't as much fun when there's no one around to play with. The day before I left, all my friends back home had status updates about seeing Harry Potter at midnight (and my friend Kirsten participated in this, which makes me more envious than you'll ever know), and I was worried that my trip to Japan was going to end up a terribly lonely choice. But as I sat along the water, with no one around to break the silence, I was so glad I'd made the trip alone. I felt like that beach existed in that moment just for me, and I genuinely enjoyed my own company. I was actually quite sad to see the time run out, and I knew as I left the beach that those few hours splashing in the water are always going to be some of the best hours I've ever spent for reasons I don't have enough words to adequately explain.

As the clock counted down the time until the showing, I knew I had to abandon my little paradise and head back to the mall. Fortunately, leaving something that makes you happy for something else that makes you happy isn't too difficult of a transition, so I skipped back to the mall just in time for some cinematic bliss.

My blog isn't really the place for movie reviews, but I will say that this Potter was, in my opinion, the best one yet. I don't say that every time; I left Order of the Phoenix feeling disappointed and a little seasick (who the heck directed that one? a drunk on roller skates?). But this one... oh my goodness. David Yates, you're my hero. The second that movie hits Korea, you can bet I'll be in line to see it again. And again. And again in 3-D. Amazing.

After the movie, I shopped in the mall for a while, visited Fukuoka Tower (which has a floor called "The Lovers' Sanctuary" that's lit in pink and filled with cozy little love seats. It's like all of Asia gets a kick out of constantly reminding me that I'm single.), and headed back to the hostel to call it a night. Up next on the blog: a living room full of adorable accents and fat guys in diapers. I know - you can't wait.


  1. Nic- I am sorry that you have been having some hard times but it makes me very happy to see that you are still finding joy in the little things, like being able to put your feet in the Pacific Ocean. I love you for that!

  2. I feel the same way about trees! It was all I can do to not stop and stare at them when I was back in Ohio lol


  3. Also I will forgive you for not mentioning my birthday in this post, since it was posted on the day of my birth, IF you sing me happy birthday in Korean tomorrow when we skype. I hope you practice.