We had three new students in class today. Two of them were adults- one in her thirties and one in his forties. They all needed to go up and introduce themselves to the class. One person did an average job of introduction. One was really stumbling, asking for a definition of at least one word per question. And then the last person got into a side conversation with the teacher (who was clearly interested in what the student was saying) while the rest of the class looked on in confusion and tried to see if we could figure out what kind of research he did. (One of the questions was that, and he said it again, and wrote out the kanji, and gave an explanation. I think it might have been anthropology? Something like that.)
The lessons took a weird order. We began by learning the concept we'd briefly glossed over yesterday. Then, right as I was beginning to wonder if we'd restart the lessons we'd done yesterday, we were onto the next chapter. The next concept was one of the ways of making lists in Japanese. (there are multiple, depending what type of word [noun, conjugating adjective, non-conjugating adjective, verb] and how complete the list is) We practiced by splitting up into groups and describing, in nice ways, the person next to us. One person in my group had a really hard time saying anything besides 'he has pretty eyes.' Consequently, I started my description after the other groups had finished, and the teacher told everyone to just listen. Fortunately, I could think of multiple nice things to say about my partner, though I wonder if should have ended on a stronger note. (My concluding attribute was 'she has cut e clothes.)
After we finished lessons, I headed out again in search of the elusive yarn store. Third time's supposed to be the charm, right? Depending on how you count it, that was only my second in search of this particular yarn store.
I was walking past the park today when I saw an easel and what appeared to be a large crowd watching it. There was also music playing. It was mainly the size that drew my attention. I've seen artists in this and other cities who would paint out on the street, and would sometimes have a few people come and look at them. But there were over twenty people watching. So I conformed and went over to join them.
I arrived just as people were clapping, and got to watch a decent interval that was just someone spinning a disc with a painting in the background. Then he finished that and went back to working on the painting. It was clearly a performance- the strokes were in time to the music, and he would build in interludes to step back and allow an unobstructed view of the painting.
I stuck around to see the end of the painting. When I first saw him, he was using paints and a brush. He switched to spray paint, and then, I think crayons? Something like that. After he finished, he took it off the pad, (what I'd earlier taken for a canvas turned out just to be a pad of white paper) posed with it for a bit, and then put it down on the ground, holding it down with rolls of tape.
I moved on, and walked for a while. I was keeping my eye out for a coffeeshop I'd seen on Monday. The menu had drawn me, because the pictures of coffee they had designs on the top made out of the milk. I'd seen pictures of that before, but wanted a chance to have one of my own. On Monday, I only saw the sign after I'd already bought ice cream, so I wasn't interested in any other place that served food. Today, though, I was ready.
I felt kind of silly ordering a hot drink on a hot day, but iced drinks didn't have any patterns in them. The coffee didn't taste particularly anything, but it did come with a milk design of a leaf. It's also approaching three weeks since I've had regular coffee, so I might just not be used to the taste. (The other kind of coffee is honey lemon, and I've only had that twice since coming to Japan.)
The coffeehouse itself was wonderful. Not many outlets, but the atmosphere was somehow perfect. To begin, it had five different kinds of seats- outside, really comfy looking sofa-esque chairs with small tables on the side, sets of two armchairs with patterned backs facing each other with a table in between (I sat in one of those chairs), tables with multiple wooden chairs, booths, and high tables facing a window. Basically, no matter your purpose, you could find the right chair there.
It also just felt comfortable. I think it was the people. One of the things that I've inadvertently gotten used to is the silence. The trains are absolutely packed in the mornings... but it's completely quiet. Even on the way back, when people are sometimes sitting in seats next to friends they've spent the day with, they don't talk. I've been in restaurants and seen people who know each other sitting together. But there seems to be a level of separation.
I'm not saying it was completely gone at the coffeeshop. There were obviously still people who were alone, (I wasn't the lonely gaijin sitting at a table where all of the other chairs have been removed so everyone else can be with their friends) but there were also people who were clearly enjoying each others company. I've seen that in the park, but that's about it. At the cat cafe, most people came with a friend, and then sat nearby, sometimes played with the same cat... but never really talked.
Once I left the coffeeshop, I started the task of finding the yarn store again. I think it's time to declare the 'know what the surrounding buildings are and assume you'll find it easily' theory dead. I saw a lot of interesting stores today, but none of them appeared to be what I was looking for. So I think I'll get a better idea of where it is before I try again.
On the plus side, the area is starting to feel familiar. Once I can go from 'this building/route is familiar' to 'this building/route is familiar, I know which way I want to go,' I'll be in great shape. Though I don't think I'll mind exploring it more.
Several times today I saw a building that looked interesting, and went in. Air conditioning was nice. It was kind of awkward when it was a store and I was the only customer, but I'd typically smile politely and leave after looking around. (One of the stores was a chocalatier. I would have been tempted to buy something, but there was no way it would get back to my room without melting, and I didn't want to eat it then.)
Another time, I went into something that said it was an art museum. If it had been a free one, I would have looked around. I went in, but couldn't see any prices, save for the desserts. I'm pretty sure there was art other than the desserts past a gate, but then again the desserts were made to look like specific pieces of art (I didn't recognize any of them, but next to the pictures of the cakes they had pictures of paintings. There was definitely a resemblance.)
Even in this weather, though, I like just walking the streets. One of the things they have is tiles with images of various plants. I first noticed it on the bridge to go there, and it made me smile. Then I noticed them on the rest of the streets. Some of them are flowers, and some are trees (the season varies.) It feels a bit like a treasure hunt each time I see a new one, except that I'll never know if I found them all, and there's no prize if I do. Still, I like finding them.
Once I decided to head back, I picked a direction and started walking. (I was on the same street I was on when I decided to do that on Monday, so I was pretty safe in my choice of direction.) However, I deviated from what was familiar, and took a right towards buildings that I didn't recognize.
In my defense, I was right by the Shibuya station and knew it. I didn't recognize it, but there were signs saying as much. Train stations could be big with multiple exits, but if I walked in circles I'd be able to find the right one. I didn't walk in circles, but just headed towards the buildings until I saw something I recognized. As a better point in my defense, it worked.
It was a new route, so there was a bit more aimless wandering, but it was more interesting to be by stores than following the road had been, so I'm glad I tried something new today. Besides, I now have a hazy idea of how different parts of the city connect, so that's useful. (Looking at a map doesn't make it real. Walking the routes does.)
In summary, although I did find my way back, I still didn't find the store I was looking for, but at some point today, I think I stopped looking. It was more interesting to just walk and look around then to look for something. In my looking at maps for landmarks, I also saw other buildings that looked interesting, so I'd like to try finding those too. (Since those are marked on maps, they would probably be easier to find too.)
I'm sure I'll be back, and not just for the coffee.