I am still off work after New Year, so once again I got to meet up with The Penpal. Today we went to Gotemba to meet one of her friends.
BTW – I have no idea why Gotemba is usually spelled with an “m”. In Japanese all of the consonant sounds except n have a vowel sound after them (ma, mi, mu, me, mo). Occasionally when there is an “n” sound in the middle of a word, it is written in English as an “m”. Technically the city name should be Gotenba, but since all of the major businesses use an M on their English signs, I will too.
Regardless of spelling, Gotemba is a small city on the east side of Mt. Fuji with some amazing views. It is famous as the home for a US military base and a giant outlet store. The Penpal and I met with her friend Saori, who does traditional Japanese dancing. We had some food and she told us about her recent trip to Uzbekistan.
Before talking to Saori I knew nothing about Uzbekistan, other than it existed and was near some other “stan” countries. Saori had developed a passion for the country, and had recently gone for sightseeing and to educate Uzbeks about Japanese culture. She loved the country so much, that she was planning to return, and had even found one of the few Uzbek speakers in the whole country of Japan to study the language.
It was interesting for us to learn about a country we hadn’t known about before. It’s also always fun to learn about what attracts people to learn about a new place. I originally became interested in Japan because all of my electronics and video games came were made here. When someone says they want to visit Uzbekistan, it’s always interesting to find out why.
I have now gotten to spend three days in a row with The Penpal on this holiday. I am really enjoying all the extra time we are getting together lately.