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2004-08-17 10:54 p.m.

ninja gaijin

First off, news. New Miyazaki film, Howl's Moving Castle, on the horizon. Apparently based on this book. Yeee!

Alright. I'll try to give you a taste of what I've done so far.

Work related I've done pretty much jack. Classes don't start till September, and most of the teachers have been out of town much of the time recently. I just barely got my weekly schedule worked out today, so now I can theoretically start planning a bit more. I'm gonna work an extra hour (in Japanese, that's read "stay at work and stare at the wall for a while") Monday through Thursday and then have a half day of work on Friday. Pretty sweet setup.

The island is extremely beautiful, though the town is a little run down. It's basically a thickly wooded mountain rising out of the bay. I think perhaps I shall just call it The Rock from here on. Parts of the town remind me of a Japanese Sweet Haven (that being a reference to my favoritist movie), though maybe not quite as colorful. In exploring the island I've sometimes been reminded of the game Myst. It's has an ethereal and contemplative beauty sometimes, and sometimes it feels completely deserted.

It also happens to be a very important Japanese archaeological site. If this sounds familiar, maybe I've already told you about it (and maybe I lifted this pretty much straight out of an email I wrote you).

[takes a deep breath] The Mongols actually tried to invade Japan twice, in the late 1200s. The first time was Hakata Bay, over by Fukuoka. That was apparently more of a test invasion. They lost a lot of ships in a storm and had to call it quits. Then in 1281 they came again, with over 4000 ships, and dropped anchor off the southern coast of The Rock. But a big typhoon came up and sank all the ships. Seeing as storms screwed up the Mongols' invasion plans twice, the Japanese decided that meant that the gods would never allow Japan to be invaded by a foreign power, and they called it "Kamikaze," which means "divine wind," basically. When World War II started going badly for the Japanese, they brought the term back. The US was the first group to successfully invade Japan since the Japanese themselves.

Anyway, there's an archaeological group that comes every summer for a few weeks to dive for artifacts. It's a pretty unique area because just about anywhere off the southern shore you go looking for artifacts, you'll find them. You can walk along the southern shore at low tide and just pick up 800 year old Mongolian pottery shards ('specially after a typhoon). They don't have a lot of money to work with right now, but they're doing their best. They were here when I first got here, and I was actually able to dive with them once and go see the stuff they were unearthing. Most of what they find are ship timbers, pottery, and sometimes weapons and helmets and things. They haven't yet found a more or less intact ship, and they don't seem to have the resources right now to really look for one. They have found a few really freaking huge anchors, though.

They're gone now, but they'll be back next year and I hope to be more useful to them next time around. One of the guys, a doctoral candidate with dual US/American citizenship, is coming back in September to work on cataloging the stuff they've dragged up. I'll probably help him out and maybe learn some nautical archaeology in the process. Fascinating stuff.

And as it so happens, there's an article in this week's Newsweek about it.

And oh, during the last few days the archaeologists were here, a crew contracting for the Discovery Channel was here as well, putting together a documentary on it all. It doesn't have a set air date yet, but apparently it will be in the first quarter of 2005, most likely. So check that out. If you watch carefully, you might see me making faces in the background of some of the shots.

Oh, I also got me a fancy pants Japanese cell phone. Actually it's only fancy by American standards- I only paid one yen for it. It has two full color screens, full spectrum sound effects, takes pictures and short movies, connects to the internet, and has all kinds of other bells and whistles that I haven't managed to figure out yet.

However, the usage plan sucks. For the price I'm paying per month, in the U.S. I got 600 anytime minutes, free nights, free weekends, and free mobile-to-mobile. Here I get 100 anytime minutes and... jack shit.

Oh, I finally started into my Love Psychedelico translation project. Now I need to get a freaking website. Suggestions, anyone?

I need to finish that damn novel, too. And I got another dream that I think might make an interesting short story.

one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night,