This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Halfway Through

Counting weeks, counting days. It’s tempting to mark time until an event begins or ends, and almost impossible not to. It helps break up the sameness of waiting. It offers something to look forward to, but can also create a distraction from being in the present. Although I do anticipate the last week and the excitement of going home, I’ve also felt a profound sense of contentment that has kept me from feeling anxious for the term to end. I love my job and my routine. I’m so lucky to have an awesome colleague and neighbor. I enjoy where I live and the easy access to one of the most incredible cities in the world.

So it’s a bit of a jolt to realize the term is already halfway over! In six weeks, I’ll be flying back across the Pacific, hurtling time zones in a single swoosh and commencing battle with jet lag for the nth time.

But that’s all the way into next month. Right now I’m enjoying being at this mid-point, while still looking forward to both the dailiness and adventures of my life in Japan.

Some highlights from the first half of the term…

A visit to the Sensouji Shrine in Asakusa on a rainy afternoon.

Purchasing a fortune.

Try to be modest and gentle.


There were swan paddle-boat races at Ueno Park…

Hannah and Simon entering the space module, er, swan.

Our swan is faster than your swan.

I think I see why we lost…Simon!

But still friends. Evon, Zoe, Simon, Hannah, Meggen, moi.

We ended the night (some of us did, some others continued on) at a Maid Cafe, which sounds a bit sketchy, but actually it was just…odd, but fun since we were with the right friends and went with a sense of “this-is-Tokyo-and-anything-can-happen-here.” Maid cafes are big in Akihabara, a whiz-bang, high-tech, glitz-o-rama ‘hood in Tokyo.


Stealth photo of a maid.

The cafe was all bubble gummy and frill, with a steep cover charge and high-priced menu items. The maid took our order, then upon delivering the food, made us sing a song, complete with hand motions. We had to make the shape of a heart with both hands and sing something along the lines of “Delicious! Delicious! Meow, meow, meow!” moving our hands back and forth in time with the song. It was silly and fun and bizarre and I never have to do it again.


One weekend, Hannah and Ellen and I met in Choufu and walked around the area surrounding a shrine…

Food options.

Photo by Hannah.


This last week, we had our Halloween party…

Our dear students… they were so patient with our silly games.

It’s a tough job.


And this is just the first half.

I love the experiences this work provides: the opportunity to be a part of another culture, engage in a meaningful profession, and meet people from all over the world who share the same interests.

And although there are so many new things to do and see all the time, at least one thing remains the same…

Coffee Friday!


2 responses to “Halfway Through

  1. Jannele Mastin November 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Some one of a kind experiences, Rob! Fun to get a glimpse of your adventures by way of these great photos.

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