I sent out an email to some Brebeuf peeps today, so I'm just taking an excerpt from it to post here. Enjoy! Oh, and I apologize in advance for not updating for a while and having to dump everything into one post.
I have never been good about writing blog posts or sending out email updates. Since I'm not teaching any classes today, I guess I should send out a reply! I warn you it will be long so you may want to break up reading it over a few days or weeks. lol. I'm getting ready to go back to the States tomorrow! I'm taking a couple of trains tonight to stay with a friend, (Jen) and my flight leaves tomorrow (Wednesday December 23rd) at 12:55 PM Japan time. After we all do the time warp on the plane, I'll be landing in Detroit at 10:45AM on Wednesday December 23rd. I'll tell you it feels great to get those two hours back! Jonathan and I will be in town until January 2nd, so let me know if y'all in the Indianapolis area want to hang. I need to practice my conversational English like nobody's business.
So over the course of the past month, I feel like I have done a whole lot of nothing, but I guess I was actually having a prettty good time. Jonathan and I went to Nagoya to visit friends the first two weekends in December, and we did all night karaoke both weekends. After the first bout of all night karaoke, Jonathan and I wandered around trying to find a love hotel that would rent by the hour, but we were so exhausted that we had the brilliant idea of sleeping in one of the manga cafes. They have these buildings that are filled with little cubicles where you can read manga (they offer an extensive manga library), watch anime or read manga on the computer, or do other activities like sleep. The one we stayed in was 1300 yen (about 13-15 dollars) per person for 5 hours. They gave us a room for two with a padded foam floor and bean bag chairs (used as pillows). These places have a free all-you-can-drink drink bar (non alcohol), free blankets, free slippers, and shower facilities (about 2-3 dollars for 30 minutes with complimentary toiletries and stuff like hair dryers and shit). I thought that it was friggin awesome, but Jonathan was grumpy probably because he wanted to sleep in longer but we had to meet some friends for dinner. Both weekends we sang, I had drinks, and we ate food and looked at other foreigners. It is nice to go to a big city like Nagoya after living out in isolated Oi town for so long. But, big cities are expensive so that stinks.
I was a bit lonely this past week since Jonathan went back to 'Merka (abreviation of America) early, but luckily I have some great friends, good books, and cool students and coworkers. I went out for dinner and drinks on Friday night with some of the Obama crowd (Grainne, Felipe, and Jay). We ate okonomiyaki which is like amped up omelets that you get to make yoself. The table is a grill top like you would see at a Japanese steak house or something but noone comes to make food for you so you need to make your own onion volcano and throw fish tails into your own hat if you want that kind of entertainment. I think we would actually get kicked out of the restaurant if we tried it, but maybe not since they seem to like us ok. We go to this restaurant all the time so I don't even have to tell them to leave the fish and meat and fish flakes out of my food anymore. It is pretty awesome. After dinner we went to the bar downstairs from the restaurant and had some drinks. Felipe lives way across town so he couldn't walk back home so he stayed over with me and Grainne. As we were walking home, it started to really snow, big fluffy snowflakes, and it was really beautiful. When Grainne got us home she immediately opened a big bottle of sake and practically forced us to drink the whole thing. It was a lot of fun to just hang out with other foreigners that I actually really like a lot. We all come from very different backgrounds but we mesh really well and hanging out is always fun. After the sake Grainne tried to give us more beer, but we both had places to go the next morning so we called it a night there. Felipe had his bonenkai which is an end of the year party where the teachers take a bus to another town and drink themselves into blackouts, starting at like 8AM. I had a kindergarten recital to go to, and my god it was adorable. I taught the kids two English songs so they sang those, but they also played instruments, sung Japanese songs, had a fashion show, did a hula hoop routine, did a jump rope routine, and ended with a famous dance that like every kind in Japan has to learn for every school event called soran bushi. Youtube it, it's funny.
*** The following paragraph may contain information about people living in Fukui Prefecture that is offensive or blatently incorrect. Read at your own risk!! Also, feel free to correct my information via text, phone call, or email at your earliest convenience. Maybe I am overreacting and assuming people get upset when you don't have their nationality or family situation straight, but I can't be sure so better safe than sorry!***
So I guess I want to tell you about my new friends now! Grainne is from Ireland, so obviously she was trying to get us drunk the whole night (jk (actually not jk she really was)). She is pretty much awesome and I love her to pieces. You can't drink and drive in Japan at all like not even a sip so I stayed over at her apartment in Obama Friday night. Jay is from Boston, and he brought his wife who is Japanese. They are pretty great and real sweet, and Jay is like one of the block leaders for our section of the prefecture (Reinan Block). Felipe is Canadian but originally from Latin America. I want to say he was born in Colombia but I could be wrong. Nope, I think I'm right because I remember him making a cocaine joke Friday night. Fukui prefecture seems to be filled with Canadians who were born in some other country. Like Galina, Iker, and Felipe. Maybe that is not technically 'filled,' but I only know one Canadian who was born and raised in Canada. I don't get out much so there you go. Also I'm 60% sure my friend Lucia's family immigrated to New York before she joined the JET Program. All their English is like perfect, so it is cool to have some internationalization that doesn't consist entirely of a whole bunch of white americans and australians flooding Japan. Some other friends who live in Obama are Asa, who is a foul-mouthed adorable chinese american chick that cracks me the heck up, and Edwin who is pretty awesome! He will be here for the maximum 5 years and he is engaged (now married) to a cute Japanese woman, Mayumi. Melissa lives about 40 minutes away, and she is pretty cool, a native Texan who did peace corps in the Ecuadorian mountains and on the Galapagos recently before coming to Japan, she always has great ideas about where to go and what to do and I think she is really easy to be around. Lucia lives about 50 minutes away and as I mentioned she is maybe originally from the Dominican Republic? I forget. She's a true New Yorker, and she is pretty effing amazing too. Soooo, this is getting long, eh?
I'll finish with my story of what happened to me at work yesterday. I only had one class in the morning, so after lunch I was sitting at my desk reading a book online (it's been a slow week), when Hotta sensei asked me if I wanted to help clean the lights. I was like wtf you talkin' 'bout? It turns out from 1:30-4:30 was designated clean the school time, so we all got up and started cleaning the staff room wiping everything down, washing the windows Mr. Miyagi style (wax on, wax off), and then proceeding to clean the rest of the school too! The students clean the school every day for 30 minutes after lunch, which is very common throughout Japan (maybe mandatory). So we cleaned the things the students don't usually get to like the nurse's room, the windows in the hallway, cleaning out the store room in the music room, shoveling snow off the sidewalks. In Japan they do not hire janitors, so the students and teachers do all of the cleaning, including scrubbing the toliets and taking out the trash. When I forget how different America and Japan are, all I have to do is go to the elementary school and watch little 2nd graders scrub the toilets during cleaning time.
Sorry this was excessively long, and possibly wildly inappropriate. In my defense I think I cleaned out all of the curse words.
I hope you all are taking good care of yourselves!
Love and kisses,