Monday and Tuesday passed with little consequence, then Wednesday came and it was time to toast a colleague who was parting ways with us. I hopped on the train and rode it to Ina for ½ hour like I usually do when heading that way; this time was a little different though. I was sitting in my seat spacing out listening to music when some guy went right up to me and asked “Australia?”
I said “no” so he asked “America?” Again I was like “no. Canada”
“Ah” and he walked away.
I was confused but whatever, I think that might be the same strange guy I encountered before and wrote about in one of my first posts. Anyways, I started spacing out again and later he comes back and again it takes me a while to even notice him even though he’s standing right in front of me. He asked another weird question that I can’t remember at the moment and left in the same manner previously. Again 5 minutes or so later he returns but this time “What is your full name?”
Before I was weirded out, but now he was full on creepy. It’s hard to describe his demeanor but ya, it’s pretty darn hard to get under my skin and he was carving away…
I tried not to say more, hoping that would suffice like the previous questions. After a couple seconds of him giving me creepy stares I caved.
Him” “Shhee… Sheppard”
Me: “No, Shane-roth”
Me: “y… yea…” and he left.
Luckily my stop came up before he had another question to test my limits. I quickly joined 9 of my English-speaking colleagues at a nearby restaurant. I got there and found out that Komatsu-sensei, one of my favourites, was being transferred. He only found out Monday and I only found out 2 minutes before I was asked to give him a toast. It was a little awkward but maybe I did alright. I made sure to get a picture with him and a group picture before the night was out, I’m going to miss him as we taught the most advanced class together.
And so the party went on for a couple hours. I finally had a chance to share some of that Cider from B.C. that I brought; I think it was well received. Again I impressed people with my eating and drinking skills. Unfortunately there was no after party but maybe that was for the best as the last train home was at 11 and I grabbed the second last one. I was still feeling pretty good when I got home so I didn’t get to bed until around 3:30 in the morning.
Thursday saw another going away party, this time for Tatsuno. Before the party Junko came over to play with Otaku for a bit, I was surprised to find out that even at her construction/accounting workplace she had to wear a uniform not unlike what students wear for high school. It looked great, sure, but I can’t help but feel like Canada is too casual now. Otaku has a lot more energy when people come over to visit, I wonder if that means I’m boring. :)
But anyways the colleague, Kawai-sensei, was being transferred to Kiso, an hour commute each way. Again I gave a toast and again shared some cider. This time however I hardly talked with anyone, as it was predominately Japanese so I mostly ate and drank in silence in the corner. When you’re tired it’s MUCH harder to give a different language a try as it really is taxing on the brain. I was in bed earlier I think, maybe 1 a.m.
Friday was White Day/pi day. The day men give chocolates back to the women they got chocolates from and give out extras to love interests. So if you read my valentines post I didn’t spend a lot of money for that day, I gave some out to the nice Librarian Inoue-sensei and my Caretaker Uchiyama-sensei in my office. When I say “caretaker” it means they are in charge of practically babysitting me on the side while they still have their English teacher duties to do. (in case that needed to be clarified)
Anyways, I had been invited to my caretakers to enjoy a meal with her family but it was cancelled unfortunately because her daughter got sick again; I guess she has asthma too. Too bad I can’t tell them more about how I got over my asthma other than “it just went away, haven’t used a puffer in over a decade”. I guess Neal had a White Day party that I forgot about on the account of thinking I was busy already and couldn’t go, but either way I was stupid and didn’t go to bed until 4:30 a.m, which leads to Saturday’s adventure.
In case you are wondering about the title, let me just say it now and get it out of the way. Penis. Down in Nagoya there was a rather large Penis Festival, where men and women, young and old, came out to… rub large wooden penises and smooth marble balls while praying for… good luck maybe. Fertility? Since it’s a spring festival maybe it has to do with praying for good crops.
So anyways, since I was tired I chose to be DD. Besides, I already had my fill of alcohol for a while and any more at this point would make me dead to the world. 5 of us piled into a car and drove down south for a couple hours. The price of the road trip split 5 ways with gas and tolls included was cheaper than a 1-way 1-person train ticket there, and maybe 5 hours faster. Anyways we got there and were treated to many different penis paraphilia. There were all kinds of differently elaborately decorated bananas coated in many different types of chocolates and coatings. There were good luck scribes with penis pictures as people made their… wishes maybe. There were shrines with penises as big as me carved beautifully in rich wood, smoothed down over the years by the countless hands coming to rub it down. There was a bell above the temple as with all shrines, but this one was shaped as… well you can probably guess it was a penis.
Needless to say the inside jokes on this road trip were rather perverse in nature so you don’t need to hear them, the biggest one though was everyone would purposely break out laughing whenever anyone said “penis” and “come” in the same sentence; at the person’s expense of course, would you have it any other way?
Some poor sap: “When will the penis parade come already?”
Everyone else: “Bwahahahahaha!”
Maturity at its finest.
I will try to stop saying dirty words so much and use some of the cleverer words/slang I overheard at this fine event (I did say this post was X rated, you’ve been warned). So we got good spots waiting for the parade to come by as the lineups to see the ‘meat-trains’ were too long and crazy to brave, especially when they would be following a predetermined path right away. While waiting we were treated to interesting encounters with many different types of people, half being other JETs from our camp (as with any Japanese festival, many foreigners were around).
The one encounter was an old man who I thought was just being friendly, giving out beer and sake like he worked for the companies. Patricia got drunk off her tree and before she knew it and she was in the thick of the ‘male-muscle’ action, must to the appreciation of hundreds of cameras in every direction. He would always say “kanpai!” (cheers!) and toast each of the girls and totally ignored many of the men in the group a couple times, which led to some awkward cups in the air waiting to be clinked by a cup that had already turned it’s back on them. Later on he got bolder with his cheers, ‘clinking’ his cup on every ‘chest pillow’ in his reach. Tiffany in our group called him a “sukebe” and he laughed admirably. (sukebe = dirty old man. There are SO many ways to say dirty/perverted in Japanese) Oh and earlier Rachel had people get close to her and take pictures of nothing but close-ups of her ‘sweater huggers’. (I learnt lots of slang this weekend, even Japanese!)
This was one of slowest parades I’ve ever been to. It was maybe 100 meters long, but took over an hour to pass. The first person in the parade would give you salt to purify your hand for the upcoming ‘knob polishing’. Next was a man carrying a banner that someone spent WAY too much time painting considering the level of detail, I wonder if they painted off a model or from memory… Next there were many beautiful girls carrying ‘wood carvings’ about a meter long and letting everyone in the crowd rub its head; even children who could hardly reach it. They were also carrying boxes and carts people used to ride on for reasons unknown to me, needless to say they weren’t grabbing as much attention as my drunken friends being edged on into provocative poses with the passing ‘frankfurters’.
Later on there was more free sake, 2 carts in the parade in fact giving it out, rather impressive considering how small the parade was. The men carrying the large chairs on their backs were wearing shoulder pads or something to make them look all beefy and strong, with the heat you could tell it was taking its toll. (It felt like summer, so beautiful) And finally the main event slowly marched down. A ‘pink piledriver’ easily bigger than my whole body wearing a decorative hat was escorted by many burly men. They would stop regularly and spin it in circles while chanting. It was a rather impressive carving into what once had to have been a tree trunk.
After the main attraction, there was another sake cart, more rubbing, and one other large ‘beef bayonet’ being carried on the strong shoulders of proud men. This one however was pointed up, and they took turns putting it on its side so the crowd on both sides could experience happy hands. After the parade passed we followed the masses as ‘the wild bologna pony’ was slowly inserted back into its shrine but to the wild appreciation of the gawking onlookers, who provided appropriate sound effects to better immortalize this momentous occasion.
Feeling spent, we gathered our drunken comrades and took a rather long train ride across town to visit the outback steak house. On the way to the train there was an older fellow selling woodcarvings of you know what. He had a lot of creative artistic skill though; I’ll give him that. After supper we went home and I went to bed much earlier this time (2 a.m.) The pictures of this festival are in their own folder: 08MarchNagoyaPenis. You can get more information about that festival here: Link
Sunday we got up early and were treated to a tour of the Kamiina-gun area (kinda like a ‘county’, Tatsuno and Ina are here). Patricia teaches an English class and the last couple weeks have been helping them become tour guides for this event, it was really nice as everyone practically had their own personal tour guide.
Through the course of the day, as seems to happen fairly often, (especially with Neal advertising it) it came out that I am Otaku. I usually am kinda happy when it comes up as everyone gets a hearty chuckle and the conversation easily switches to cool things like video games. That day it was a little different.
One of our guides would ask me “have you been here before?” and I would say no, not even knowing where I was (beautiful places though). She would laugh and talk in Japanese to me, the only word I can understand is Otaku. Later on the exact same thing happened while we were at a farm that looked like every other farm I had seen so far; apparently this one was famous. Jake later told me “She’s saying that you really must be Otaku because you have never been here before.”
I don’t know why but I found it somewhat offensive that this girl thought I was a shut-in when I’ve probably seen more things than she has. It’s all fun and games until someone is laughing in your face in a language you don’t understand completely at your expense. Luckily Jake explained to her and helped clean up some of the ignorance.
But that aside, the tour was really cool. We saw a large shrine that was made out of a single tree, I got to ring one of those large bells that sound so beautiful and I learnt many new things. I even got my fortune finally! Mediocre luck and a message saying something about how if I don’t care what my neighbors think of my happiness then I will find true happiness.
Later on we were treated to the most expensive restaurant in Ina. The hostesses wore full kimonos and we ate in a very beautiful Japanese style room with bamboo growing outside the windows and new tatami mats on the floor. We were treated to a story of how in old days, ninjas would hide under tatami and when you stepped in the wrong place they would stab you through the tatami. Ninjas are so sneaky.
Well that’s about it. I am enjoying the BEAUTIFUL weather here; t-shirts and open windows. It still gets cold at night but oh well; it’s nice enough during the day. I finally posted some more youtube videos if you’re interested, again check out the pictures! :)
"Before you borrow money from a friend, decide which you need more." -Anonymous