Quick story, and then back to answering emails and posting photos:
Every morning as I ride my bicycle to the train station, I take the same route as all of the neighborhood kids who are walking to school. Unlike Japanese adults, Japanese kids--as kids anywhere would do in the same situation--stare openly at me in wonderment; I'm the only white person in the neighborhood. Usually they do nothing more than stare, and so I'll smile and wave, and they smile and wave back slowly, with slightly shocked faces.
But this morning was a little different. I passed a pack of nine- or ten-year-old boys who, when they saw me, shouted, "Gaijin! Gaijin!" and began to chase after me, laughing. ("Gaijin" is a term for a white foreigner.) The group, which initially was only three or four, quickly caught on and soon I was being chased by nearly a dozen little Japanese boys, running as fast as their legs could carry them. Once the last one finally tired out, I slowed down, turned around and waved, calling out, "Ohayo gozaimasu!" brightly ("Good morning"). Their faces fell open in amazement--this ignorant gaijin girl could actually speak a bit of Japanese!--and then they broke out in giggles, leaning on each other in congratulation of a good gaijin chase.
It was a funny way to begin the morning and it made me laugh.
In other news, classes keep me too busy for anything but studying. But I have seen lots of good museums and gotten sufficiently lost in downtown Ueno, so you'll have to see the photographs for the rest of the story...