So I'm off to Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, for a few days. An odd bit of trivia, if you look at Kyoto, and then look at Tokyo, they basically reversed the sounds. So "Kyo-to" became "To-kyo." But the kanji character for 'kyo' is different. Kyoto is also Ground Zero for all sorts of New Year's celebrations, so we'll be at one of the major temples for the festivities. Chion-in, an ancient temple founded in the 1200s, has the largest bell in Japan, requiring 17 monks to ring it 108 times for the New Year. I'll post more when I return.
Btw, those of you who got my emails in the summer remember me complaining about how horrible the humidity was. Well, now I guess it's the exact opposite in the winter. It's crazy dry here, hardly any rain, and it's dried out my skin something horrible. I spend most of my time just itching. I asked some students what they do to remedy it, and they just kind of looked at me blankly and said they just itched. So looks like I'm going to be itchy for the winter. Damien gets to be Scratchy, though.
Has anyone heard about the earthquake off the coasts of India and Thailand? It caused tidal waves about 5 meters high in some places. The death toll's up around 21,000 so far. They say 2004 is the year of the disaster. In Japan alone, we've had over 2,000 deaths from the various typhoons and earthquakes. That's pretty good, considering over 40,000 died in the earthquake in Iran at the start of the year. Like I said, crazy. Maybe the cultists are right and the world really is ending.