Monday, November 3, 2008

The Things We Do…

I was in Yayoi on Wednesday, but that was the closest day to Halloween so I had another first: I dressed in Anime Cosplay. What better time eh? The outcome: huge success. I even grew a goatee for the part. I didn’t get any people scared like last year, but I got great reactions anyways, and lots of smiles. When I walked down the hallways, half the students were wondering if it was Tony and the other half was wondering if I was ‘Sanji’, a cool chef on Luffy’s straw-hat pirate ship on the immensely popular anime, One Piece.

It was great to have the kids whipped into a frenzy when I walked into the classroom, then have me whip out a text book and tell them to do the same. Don’t worry, I wasn’t that mean, we drew Jack-O-Lanterns and talked about Halloween for a little bit first. Most kids were sure to pull out their cell phones and snap pictures of me; I got pretty good at posing as Sanji too. After school I walked around with my big bag of candy and got the kids to say “trick or treat” before I’d hand out their reward. Some boys near the end were coming for 2nds and 3rds though, so I had to start asking if they got one already unfortunately, where one boy questioned back: “Do you know who I am?” Geez, haha

For my 3rd years we planned a little something of a Halloween party, where I put together some simple games like pin-the-tail and played a couple short Halloween cartoons for them. I think it went really well, but I’m sure the snacks and drinks we provided helped with the success.

On Halloween Friday I was in Tatsuno, and before even any of the students saw my outfit, a little group of girls were gathered outside. I guess their friends from my other school emailed them pictures of me on their phones and wrecked the surprise but oh well, I gave them candy anyways. The third years here had been working on Halloween stories, and some were just amazing, I was really happy for them. Even Ono sensei brought a mask to dress up too, it was cute. No students dressed up this year at either school though, even after I bugged them about it for a week. Ah well

I thought of maybe going to Tokyo this weekend to catch a Halloween party, as… well you don’t need to hear me talk ill of my town anymore. Long story short, I spent Halloween night with beer, pretzels and (gasp!) some video game (demos) at home. I can’t start a big game lest I risk playing more when I should be studying. I spent too much time last week as it was cleaning my house and other study-avoiding projects instead.

So it was a 3 day weekend. There is a real cutie that I’ve talked about before in Tokyo that still wasn’t doing a good job of replying to emails. I got a hold of my friend Anita again though, which gave me a better/less-desperate reason to visit Tokyo since I didn’t really have a good reason to go otherwise. Anita’s friend was opening a pub in Tokyo, and for the opening party he was giving out free beer; shouldn’t need a better reason than that eh? I bought my bus ticket online that morning and was in Tokyo that afternoon. I guess I could do this more often. Like my friend Neal asked me that morning: what else are you going to do this weekend? Even though I was a bit excited to study the next 3 days like a hermit with a textbook. Time to mingle with people; a lunch we had that week showed warnings that I was going back to my socially awkward self again.

The pub was packed with people, I guess it didn’t help that it was also really small. But hey, free beer right? The things we do. A real cutie at the other end exchanged glances with me a couple times, but the sardine nature of the place kept you from moving much. Later when our little posse (Anita, Takaku and I) managed to squeeze deeper into the pit, we were able to talk more.

Her name was Megumi and I guess she did a year home stay in Winnipeg, so she was happy to talk to a Canadian for once, and I was happy to talk to someone that not only has heard of Saskatchewan, but actually visited Regina. (shock!) Of course I couldn’t help but squeeze out a ‘why’, but it was in good taste, don’t worry. Her English was so perfect though you wouldn’t think she was Japanese, maybe the best I’ve ever heard. We had a great talk and some shots, but those crappy trains keep your eye on your watch as I wasn’t going to spent more on a taxi ride than it would cost to stay in my capsule for one night. Before we parted, we exchanged information and I was invited on a Mountain hike the next day. Looks like my whim trip to Tokyo just got some meat for its bones.

A group of us met up and took an hour train to Takao Mountain, which made a bit of sense, as I was confused knowing there was no mountain in Tokyo. So with us were Meg(umi), Steve from America and a dude from Europe. They would ask me if this is what Nagano was like, and in a way it was similar; except more things are dying now because of the cold and the mountains were higher; sounds like I’ll have company this winter when the snow comes for skiing and such. There was some Taiko (Japanese drums) festival going on that day too, so there was an incredible amount of people.

When I arrived in Tokyo the day before, I bought a pair of shoes that will last me for a year or so; quite shocking given the disappointment I felt in Nagoya. Of course I told myself “I won’t need to do anything too crazy so I should be ok” and now here I was the next day mountain climbing with them. Long story short at the end of the day the new shoes rubbed a hole in my one ankle and there was blood all over my sock. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The four of us climbed the mountain together, had great, intelligent talks, snacks and enjoyed the beautiful nature even though the colours haven’t changed too much yet because Tokyo has temperatures above 10 degrees yet those lucky jerks. In case you missed the ‘intelligent’ quip I threw in, it’s so refreshing to be away from the JET mess of gossip and rubbish; a shame really. Lots of the JETs that I do talk to see through the BS too and kinda peel away.

Since we were all fairly new with each other and lots of talking was being done, reflections of home came flittering by. What was my family up to? How’s everyone getting along? I can’t help but feel I’m experiencing some of the same things my cousin Darren must have felt when he moved to the other side of the country. Almost the same thing I feel when I see recent photos of people I’ve grown up with and known for years surrounded by people that I don’t know a lick about, and now here I am on a hill with 3 strangers having a great time like I’m sure they were too in those pictures. Change is a strange thing, but I’m digressing again.

I guess there isn’t too much to write about the mountain, it was simply a great time out even if it was a bit crowded. Oh and we saw a traditional married Japanese couple, where the wife tripped on some tree roots and face planted rather harshly. All the husband said was “why did you do that” in Japanese and didn’t help her at all even though we offered. As they walked away she kept 2 meters behind him it seemed. Eerie.

The guys had their own things to do that night, so I suggested supper with Meg. We talked about our shared love for spicy food, but ended up stopping in the first burger restaurant outside of the station because our legs were so tired. We got a cool seat on the 3rd floor though where we could oversee a large intersection. I think we were there for a couple hours as time kinda flew by it was really cool. When we got up later to find something else to do, we didn’t last too long and soon parted ways due to exhaustion.

So here I was in Tokyo for a second time to see my friend Anita, and like that last weekend we hardly hung out at all! We exchanged a couple mails, but I quickly passed out in the lull of replying and was out for the night. Maybe 10 hours of sleep later I woke up and was able to complete making plans for Monday, haha

Anita had stuff to get done in the morning, so I passed some time during breakfast in my textbook. I got a good hour and a half in before the head started to hurt, so I took a study break by catching the train to our meet up place. Once there I walked to a nearby park and snuck in another hour of studying. I’m sneaky like that.

But ya, this park was amazing! You seen them a lot back home, but this was my first time seeing one in Japan where you had an open field, where many kids and their parents were happily using to play soccer or baseball and other fun stuff kids should be doing in parks. I guess every other park feels it needs to pack it with swing sets or trees or other stuff you simply don’t need if you just want to get out and lay down on some green grass.

I met up with Anita and her friend who was also named Megumi. She told me it was a popular name but it was still a bit ironic. We went to a coffee shop, where we could drink ‘organic’ stuff. I didn’t know that, but I found out later when my small glass of apple juice cost $5. Those cultists…

Haha, anyways, this Megumi’s English was alright, but a lot of the conversation was in Japanese. Anita is pretty good, and as I’m a lesser speaker it’s easy to fall into the shadows; I guess that’s how some of my students must feel. I took solace though by being happy with understanding a lot of what was being said. My internal processor might have started smoking a bit to keep up, but it’ll need to do that if I want to talk at a faster speed. This was a great time to ask about grammar and vocab that came up; great reinforcement.

When we got tired of sitting, I suggested something less conventional like badminton or a game arcade. We tried looking for one, but I guess a lot of things have been closing lately and they’re blaming it on the recent economy stuff. We ended up grabbing some food and I got on the bus to come home. This was the one reason I packed my laptop I guess, so I could write this while on the 3 hours bus home. That, and maybe to show pictures to the person I hoped to meet. She’s another story on her own though, she finally messaged me back 3 hours before I had to leave, and of course I was busy. Anita and I somehow became each other’s love doctors recently and the option of forgetting her passed again; it’s a shame really but ya I don’t need this crap.

Ah well, although she was a hidden underlying reason I went to Tokyo, I’m glad I made new reasons to be there, and great things happened. I went to new places, I did new things, made new friends and got to catch up with an old one. Bros before hoes right?

"The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does." -Hugh Macleod


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