Although the typhoon was exciting, the highlight of our week was the BBQ party that our buddies hosted for us at a beach park on Saturday. We took the monorail (fittingly called the "Seaside Line"), to a station called Uminokouen, literally "Ocean Park". It was a beautiful, clear day and the air had a slight crispness to it, a huge relief from the muggy weather we had been suffering from earlier. We rented two grills (a small, box-like contraption) and a metal bucket (to extinguish the coal once we were done). The park was pretty and dotted with pine trees and picnic tables with benches.
Starting the grills took longer than I expected, and it was very amusing. The oddly cylindrical coal (with holes in the middle) were put in the grill, some clear unknown gel was squeezed on the coal, a broken-up section of what I can only describe as dried, pulpy cardboard was added, and finally everything was set on fire. Apparently, none of the above materials were an equivalent to lighter fluid (which would have considerably sped up the entire process), so the fire was manually fanned by multiple buddies. In the end, it took about 40 minutes for the grills to be deemed sufficiently warm enough to begin grilling. The buddies brought steak, teriyaki-soaked beef, bratwurst, shrimp, an assortment of vegetables, and ingredients to make yakisoba (fried noodles). A KGU International Center staff member and his family were able to join us, and his wife made onigiri (rice balls) and freshly cut vegetables with a miso dressing. Needless to say, we had quite a feast. The meat was extra delicious as it was literally, "hot-off-the-grill". Everyone ate as much as they could.
As Friday had been a national holiday (the Autumnal Equinox, meaning summer is officially over), a fireworks show was held on the beach. The sun set at around 6:30 p.m. and that's when the first aerial firecracker illuminated the night sky. The show probably lasted over 15 minutes and the range of fireworks was amazing. There were even fireworks that exploded into smiley faces and hearts! The buddies bought copious amounts of sparklers, so we were able to play with fireworks as well. The most famous and popular type of sparkler in Japan is known as senkouhanabi. It's a thin, somewhat short strand of twisted tissue paper with a fuse on one end. When lit, the fuse turns into a little molten ball from which delicate sparks stem out. The tiny flashes are very pretty and a little mesmerizing to watch.
By the end of this week, all of the study abroad students will be separated and staying with their host families. Everyone is excited and nervous, but it will be a good chance to practice our Japanese.
Until next time,