Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meanwhile, back in Japan…

It’s still cold :’( I’ve been spending more time out of my house; at school or on trips largely because of how cold my house is. Well, I can tell you about the last 3 weeks maybe. The short story is I’ve been busy and writing however many blog entries didn’t help much. The long story is as follows:

I came back and the weather wasn’t so bad, there wasn’t even snow on the ground. I was relieved, but that night it snowed and ever since there’s been a layer on the ground. I had only been back one day maybe, and Neal talked me into spending the upcoming long weekend in Yokohama, the large city to the south of Tokyo. We were suppose to take this trip in December but things happened and we had to cancel. Either way I’m glad I went as it was a long weekend and the weather there was amazing.

So in Yokohama we met up with our friend Cam. Together we went to the huge China town and had some amazing food, and were shocked when our bill came. It was unfortunate we didn’t understand Japanese enough to know the price for the 3-person-course wasn’t a total price, but instead per person. I understand better the millions of warnings about eating here now, which is crazy considering there is literally like a thousand restaurants in this little area.

There was a Costco nearby and we wanted to do some shopping for stuff we were homesick for. Neal had never been in one before, and it was worth the trip alone walking around watching him rubber neck the store and be shocked literally every time we turned the corner. Well you know Costco, and it was nice to feel like I was back in Canada, but the walk to the train station was rather long and the food was all huge and bulky. Sure I could buy that 3kg drum of nacho cheese dip, but I don’t want to carry it. Lots of purchases were left unrealized; but we hope to make a road trip in that direction sometime so we can fill the car up.

I went into Tokyo that night to meet my new friend, Yumi. She’s really cool and we had a good time together; I got to see new pieces of Tokyo, namely the higher-class stuff… I need a bigger bank roll maybe; Tokyo will kill you in a hurry if you’re not careful. Either way, she’s cute and fun.

Neal, Cam, and I walked around Yokohama for hours the next day, getting a feel for the place. It’s really nice, and much more laid back than Tokyo. We rode a tall Ferris Wheel, and saw interesting things like an out-door skating rink… which was square… and needed cold air to be pumped onto it to stay frozen even though it was mid-January… and was so packed with people I don’t think you could have fallen without getting your finger cut off by someone else’s skate.

I went into Tokyo again that night to see my friend Shiho again. I hadn’t seen her since September maybe, and she figured it was a good time to bring her friend, who was a dude and wanted to learn English. I guess the evening was still enjoyable and the food was tasty, but it’s interesting just how much things and people change in such a short time. To think, I used to be crazy for her, haha. Everything is a learning experience.

Monday on January 12th, Neal and I went to see some famous temples in the area. By co-incidence, the reason this day was a holiday was because it was “coming of age day”. So many now-legal girls were decked out in full kimonos. No matter how often you may see them, they’re still so beautiful and elegant; I especially like the long curly hairstyle that accompanies them. Anyways we saw a big Buddha and some other temples, and Neal got some kind of book signed/stamped. How the book works in the Buddhist religion, is a sort of proof that you saw a certain temple. When you die, the book is burned with you. It was neat to see the monks working away making distinct seals for their respective temple for all types of these books.

A 3-day workweek later and it was Friday the 16th. Our area of teachers got together for a meeting to discuss the looming re-contracting deadline. But first, time to play with some children from Brazil! We learnt a martial arts dance that’s in their culture, listened to some of their music, and taught a little bit of English. The kids were fun.

After we had the long, hard talk about re-contracting. Because of budgets cuts, this and that, whatever, we had one week to decide now to stay a 3rd year or not. Oh and it sounds like JET is dead, they’re not hiring any new ones and instead all privates while waiting for us current ones to cycle out; I guess I’m lucky to be one of the last in one this sweet deal. We all got into groups and made pro/con lists. I filled in lots for both sides, but the biggest thing for me was just to get out of Tatsuno. I’m dying there. I love the job and everything else but not Tatsuno. Looking for accommodation elsewhere is exciting.

Anyways since that was over a week ago you can do the math and know I’ve made a decision. I signed on for a 3rd year, but I will be actively looking for an Engineering job in Japan in the mean time. If I find one in before April or May, I’ll quit and take it. It is simply too early right now to reasonably ask someone if they want to stay or go, and I really want to learn Japanese.

Also maybe the bigger reason I said yes was because my schools would be switching next year, in that I’ll be in Ina 3 times a week instead of 2, and I’ll get to move! I want the Japan experience of living in a little closet they call an ‘apartment’ instead of my big empty frozen old house. It’s exciting to think next year I’ll be able to play volleyball, or go to a pub, or find a Japanese tutor, or be able to take a bus to the airport again. Ina is just slightly bigger, sure, but it can’t be nearly as soul sucking. I need a change.

So ya after that, on a lighter note to get to know everyone better, we made groups and nominated people for certain titles. Things like “most likely to get arrested” and stuff like that. I captured 2 of the 14 or so titles: I won “most likely to celebrate ‘measure your feet’ day” and “most likely to discover cold fusion”. One that I came close to winning, but was beat out barely by Patricia, who just got a new boyfriend, was “most likely to buy condoms in bulk”. Haha… they think too highly of me. I should stop talking about my personal life as people are getting the wrong idea :) I’m still flattered though.

I’m more surprised I didn’t win the “most likely to spend a day in bed” award, I guess I’ve changed a lot since coming from Canada as I would have won that award almost once a week! Haha, I only got up for the bathroom and to eat something fast when I wasn’t playing video games. When the meeting wrapped up, we went up north to Nozawa Onsen for a ski/snowboard excursion.

The previous night was that crazy fire festival I told you about last year, but I didn’t go this year because I was busy looking for jobs and apartments in Tokyo; it’s exciting! Too bad job hunting is such a pain. That night with the heavy decisions above our heads, we did some indulging. This was maybe my first time being drunk since… June. Whenever that was when I got sick at the work party, oh and I wasn’t even that drunk either, as I kept from doing silly things others were doing which left them waking up in the morning and wondering where $100 went, or with burns on their face from flaming shots, or wet clothes from jumping into snowbanks. I still beaned a lot of people with snowballs from Bwahaha

Anyways, I went down the hill on a snowboard as I figured I should grind that skill point up a bit. Near the end of the day I was confident enough to be making helicopter-like rotations, and didn’t fall so much. Dougal was new so we hung out and were a good match I think. The last run of the day from the top to the bottom on easy took 2 hours. It was absolutely amazing and breathtaking; it snowed lightly for most of the day. The only disappointing thing was we were in a town famous for its hot springs but I never got the chance to go because while I was on the hill snowboarding my driver went, and the night before we were drinking so no bathing then. I guess I’ll be back in a couple weeks.

It was a 5-day workweek and I think stuff happened… I started a Japanese class on Monday in a city far away and Wednesday I got Sushi with Junko. Mrs. Matsushima, Mr. Kasuga and Mrs. Matsui helped me out during the day Wednesday to sign up for a “Hello Work” membership. It is like a government sponsored headhunting company where you can look for jobs. I’ve never known these things existed in Canada anyways; it would have helped a lot I think with the pain of applying for everything. There are some other companies that I will sign up with later through the newspaper.

Friday night I was back in Tokyo and got together with Yumi again. She’s really sweet; she could only meet for a little bit and had to go back to the office at midnight, where she worked until 4 in the morning finishing a report. Regardless, Saturday she booked movie tickets for both of us, then helped me look for jobs for a couple hours at “Hello Work” in Tokyo. The job place is all Japanese and it’s a bit inconvenient because you can’t really do searches, so we spent most of the time flipping through pages of stuff that didn’t apply to me at all. Atleast I got some ideas for where to send my resume.

She had a food party that night, and I had a wedding party to attend so we parted ways. I found out later though from my friend when she sobered up enough to reply to my messages that the party ended at 6 and she was too sick to go out. :) I ended up having a relaxing Saturday night out in Tokyo just walking around and seeing new things; I like the Ebisu area where my capsule is. Oh and I went into an Internet café; they’re expensive! Not like that Matrix back in Regina where we played games for hours; this place didn’t really have games…

On Sunday I met up with Richard who was also in town and together we went to a “stand-up” sushi restaurant. This was my first time at a sushi place that wasn’t on a conveyor belt, and I was amazed how much of a difference there was. It was so tasty; I ate and ate. The place was cool too, in that your plate was a big green leaf laid out in front of you, and there were no chairs so you ate standing up. I want to go again ^_^ It’s too bad I probably won’t love conveyor belt sushi like I used to after a taste of heaven like that.

We walked around and looked at stuff. I was close to buying an iphone, but I don’t think it’s worth the price; that and if I move out of Japan it won’t work anymore. I spent all my bus trips back writing up more blogs and it looks like I finally caught up! Crazy! School has pretty much winded down at Yayoi for me, I have 6 classes until it starts again in April I think. Well that’s one less thing, time to look for more jobs and study more Japanese.

"You were born an original. Don't die a copy." -John Mason


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