For the past two weeks we've seen the return of the cicadas here in Japan. Now, at home, cicadas are a kind of nice. Nicely blending into the background of a summer time dusk. Not in Japan. They take the day shift here. From sunrise (about 4am) to sunset, the semi make noise. Not the pleasant, low hum you might hear coming from the woods, but a rather an almost deafening, mechanical buzz. I had had almost a year to forget how bad it they are. Last year I was walking through otemae park (really, a glorified dirt lot surrounded by dormant cherry trees) and the sound of those bugs hurt my ears. Not only that, but the semi are about the size of matchbox cars and they fly. Correction. They fly at you.
Cicadas live for about 2-5 years (some as long as 17 or so) and spend almost all of that time underground. Then, they dig tunnels out and live for about a week, do their best to mate then annoy the hell out all humans in the area. On Wikipedia they say that some semi can be as loud as 106 dB. To put it in perspective, long-term exposure to 90 dB sounds can cause hearing damage. A jackhammer 3 feet away makes a 100 dB noise. And a jet engine at about 30 yards makes a 150 dB sound.
On to current events...Last weekend a partied on Friday and Saturday. Pretty impressive seeing as how after paying my bills here and at home I had managed to spend most of my paycheck. This is where I have to say that getting paid once a month is a challenge. As of Friday I had a little over $100 (1 man yen) in the bank. At home, making $100 last for 2 weeks was nothing. I could do it. If I'm lazy about making dinner sometimes I buy something at the 7-11 near my house. A sandwich, chips and a drink can set you back around $6. If you get a meal you can pop in the microwave, it might set you back $7-$8. Not too bad I guess, but if you feel lazy alot, then it adds up. Which stinks because I can think of food 10 times better I could buy with that money at home.
So Friday Janet and I went to a BBQ way out in the boonies around Tatsuno. We probably rode about 20 minutes in the train. We had no idea where we were. Finally we got to the station we were heading to and the man at the gate took our tickets. We waited and I texted my friend who was having the party and said he would pick us up. No dice. I finally had to break down and call him. Brain has been particularly stubborn these days, so I spoke English. Told him where we were and he came out to get us.
My friend still lives with his family - which we must remember is the norm for people in their 30's in Japan. His family's house is huge and they've even had enough room to turn one of the rooms in the house into a gallery, exhibiting his father's work: ink paintings on sliding doors. Pretty traditional fare, but good nonetheless.