Friday, May 19, 2006


The rainy season is just around the corner.

In Toyama, rain is a very common occurrence, so it's hard at times to tell when the actual rainy season starts and ends. The official month is June, but May so far has been a dreary reminder of what's to come.

As I was walking to the cafeteria this morning to buy a juice box I got a strong whiff of the rain in the courtyard at my school. Smell is such an amazing sense, it can evoke strong memories and consequently, emotions in people. For one brief moment, no more than a millisecond I'm sure, I thought I smelled the spring rain from home. I immediately had flashbacks of the wet grass in our backyard; of morning walks to school in rubber boots; of colorful, stiff vinyl ponchos and short lived umbrellas.

The rain smells different here. It's a blend of salty sea, silty rice fields, densely packed earth and concrete. But the rain smells different everywhere, doesn't it? The spring rains in Greece were thick and comforting. In Ireland however, they were crisp and clean.

I haven't been home for a spring rain in 4 years now, yet I can still distinctly recall the scent of new grass (something I truly miss), wet poplar bark, and the dusty gravel in our driveway.

As I write this, a breeze is pushing the clouds out to sea, the rain is dissipating and soon the sun will begin to warm the air and the earth -boldly changing the scenery and more subtly, the scent.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Kanazawa Relay Marathon

This past Sunday I participated in my second relay marathon in Japan. After the first lap I had flashbacks of the first relay marathon and immediately began to regret putting myself in this torturous position again.

Thanks to the beautiful and talented Amber-chan we (Toyama JETs and friends) entered 3 teams this year. Johnny and I caught the train from Nyuzen to Toyama, met up with more team memebers and took the hour-long bus to Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture.

The race was held at the castle grounds and there were already hundreds of people wandering around, setting up their teams, warming up with scrawny Japanese aerobics instructors to the beats of "Oh Mickey, you're so fine...".

Like I said, my first lap felt terrible -I had been out dancing at the Colare Disco Party the night before (another fundraiser for Amy-chan's BEE Ride), but the atmosphere at events like this doesn't allow one to focus on the running part. There's too much craziness to be had!!!

Thanks to Jimmy and Dan for some of the photos.

For Adam and all the other non-believers (thanks Dave!!)