Futsu means normal, regular, usual. As in "he normally wouldn't do that", or "do you want the big bowl of rice, or the normal bowl of rice?", "he's not a strange guy, he's just normal". This word best describes my feelings about Japan right now.

I just can't be bothered to find Japan interesting! I already know that I'll be here for a longer period in the future. and I'm I'm basically feeling numb for anything in the direct vicinity of Atsugi. The local sights just don't seem interesting to me anymore. I enjoy going there with my friends, but it's more because I'm interested in what they think of them, and how they react to them. Only a year ago I was the exact opposite. I'll try to recall some of my recent trips.

Last week I went to the penis festival. It is indeed a festival about penisses (penii?). It has a historical origin, because the Japanese of old used to celebrate a fertility festival. This festival degenerated over the years and these days the target crowd appears to be foreigners looking for weird Japanese things. I was quite disappointed in this festival. The only thing I found hilarious was a huge pink penis carried by cross dressers, swaying left and right through the streets of Kawasaki. Maybe it's because I'm European, but it just wasn't weird enough for me. It just seemed like a regular Japanese festival, only smaller, with less food and more foreigners. That's not good. (though in all honesty I did love the weird souvenirs and it does make for a great story to tell your friends :D)

After the penis festival we went to hanami (flower-viewing). It's sakura (cherry blossom) season here in Japan and it's impossible to miss. I saw it last year, and this year doesn't seem any more impressive than last year. This time we actually did get a chance to sit in a park under the sakura and hang out with friends. That was quite cool. They say the sakura lasts for only two weeks, but we saw sakura a month ago in Izu, and other places will still have sakura next week, so they're kind of exaggerating IMHO... It is a must see though, and very good :)

Today I finally went on bicycle trip with my new bike (and Kamil). It's been a week since we got it, and because of the weather and lazyness I hadn't gotten around to trying it on a long distance run. I am noticing more and more annoying things about my new bike. The pedals have nice straps around them on one side, so your foot cannot slide off. The pedals are quite close to the ground, however, and if your foot is not in the strap it keeps hitting the ground at each corner. And of course I can't seem to get both feet in the straps easily after taking off. One more thing that annoys me is that, even with your feet in the straps, I cannot make a proper corner. Lean over sidewards too much and the pedals hit the ground, meaning if your foot is pointing slightly forward that you are driving over your own toes.. It is indeed a tour bike, and not a racing bike. We have to sacrifice a lot of simple comforts just to be able to carry 4 bags of baggage around on our bike.

Well, it's not all bad. The gears are magnificent. We went on a trip to Odawara today. Going from Atsugi we went to Hiratsuka and went by the seaside, but on the way back we went cross-country and cross-mountain, and the gears really came in handy. The bike has 24 gears, and I've found myself regularly using 10 different gears today, changing from speeding downhill and overtaking cars, slowly crawling uphill and just cruising around on a long straight road. It's absolutely great. One bad point though: some gears make a lot of noise because the chain has to twist around a lot from left to right, since the front gear will be the highest and the rear gear will be the lowest, increasing the sideways distance and making the gear run against the gear guidance thingie...

Here's some pics :)

On the way back from Odawara to Atsugi:

The Odakyu line:

We tried a shortcut which ended up being a dead end, but it turned out to get us some nice pics. See the 2 pictures below.

Somewhere along the coastline between Hiratsuka and Odawara:

Some cool cars on the way to Odawara:

Odakyu line again.

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