Monday, October 5, 2009

Fabulous Weekend in J-Land

I truly had a fabulous weekend! Here’s the rundown:

Friday during school, one my of students invited me to join her community’s taiko (Japanese drumming) group. Though I know nothing about playing drums and I am not sure I will actually join the group, I am excited to check it out a few times and learn a bit about it. It was also cool that she thought of me. She’s a really good student and I helped tutor her for Eiken, and English proficiency test last semester. She passed. After school I headed to Oz, the local “foreigner” bar in Fuji. We had a good crowd and I had a few people stay the night at my house for rafting the next day.

So for Saturday, I was in charge of planning rafting for AJET this year, so I commanded the troops with the help of Joey, our VP and social butterfly. The day was a success despite a forecast for lots of rain! It only rained a little bit while we were rafting, but as we were in the final leg the sun came out and the sky cleared, making it a beautiful morning on the Fuji River. It was nice to spend some time in nature as I haven’t done so in awhile! Then we were off to eat some sushi and then went to the onsen to clean off and relax after a morning of rafting in a dirty river! Seems the AJET event was a hit. Glad everyone enjoyed themselves!

After that my new friend John and I road tripped down to his ‘hood on the Izu peninsula. We jammed out and I forgot how much I like driving! Most of my driving consists of city driving and I absolutely hate it, so whenever I get out of Fujinomiya and Fuji, it reminds that it can actually be enjoyable to drive faster than 40 mph. John, Kari and I went out to one of their local faves, a tonkatsu restaurant where basically everything has pork cutlet. I had my usual favorite, katsudon (rice with a sweet sauce, egg, onion and breaded pork on top). It was the best I have had in Japan so far and the restaurant environment was pretty sweet as well with a bit of a winter lodge/log cabin feel. We stopped to soak our feet in a local foot bath, where we saw a bunch of older women getting together to gossip on a Saturday night! Then we commenced the awkwardness that is trying out a new bar in a small town. Japan doesn’t really do bars as we know them in America. There are a lot of hostess bars where men pay to be kept in good company with pretty women and there are Japanese style izakayas. I obviously don’t frequent the hostess bars, and izakayas are usually reserved for bigger parties, not your usually Saturday night drinking. So you never really know what to expect when stepping inside a new bar. It turned out to generally be a success. After that, I crashed at Kari’s place in exhaustion after a long week of getting up early and going to bed late.

I got to sleep in for the first time in awhile on Sunday, and it was some much needed rejuvenation. I needed to be rested up to judge a speech contest in Mishima. Being tired is not a good idea when you have to listen and judge speeches for 2 hours for people who speak English as a second language! So thankfully, I was rested and ready to go. I was kinda afraid the speech contest would be a bore, but it ended up going much better than I imagined. It was the first speech contest I’ve seen here, so I didn’t know what to expect. There were two classes, junior high and open. The open class had high schoolers and college students, and one random 62 year old guy who wanted to join the contest. It was some interesting variety and was really fun to see the cute little junior high kids since I only work with senior high. After the contest, the international association took us out to dinner. After, another judge and I made the trip back to Fuji area together. He lives so far into the boonies that it became an adventure. We missed our turn, but realized it when we ran into Starbucks and McDonald’s, and whenever I accidentally end up at Starbucks, I can’t really say that it was a bad thing. So we got a few treats, and drove off into the middle of nowhere. Somehow I found my way back to my city and after the coffee was in high gear to shower, wash dishes and pick up all the bedding in my house from the visitors on Friday night!

This week is jam packed: essay grading at school, coffee tonight, Japanese class tomorrow night, first taiko lessons/group on Wednesday, teaching my first adult conversation of the new session on Thursday, and Saturday Dawna arrives in Japan!! I know the week is going to absolutely fly by, so it will be nice to have some fun times with Dawna next week. For those who don’t know, my computer is down til next week. I needed battery charger/adapter, so my battery is dead until Dawna delivers my new one. That means no phone calls for you guys this week! Love you and miss you all!! Take care as the weather cools down!


Molly K said...

If it turns out that you love taiko, there is an amateur group in Minnesota that you could join upon your return!

ash said...

Thanks :) though probably not likely since I didn't even like high school band and quit before I was a sophomore! But I'll give it a chance!

Molly K said...

I hear it does incredible things for your arms and abs. I'm thinking about trying it...