Today I learned that children are exposed to this website (hi Kara and Brenna - say "hi" to your mom and dad for me)! In honor of that, I'll try to make this post relatively child-friendly.
So there are certain things that Japanese people are very proud of, and legitimately so - sushi, judo, the Japanese work ethic; then there are things that they are proud of and are blatantly made up - the fact that only Japanese people have appendices (even if it were true, why be proud of a useless organ?), for example. Until recently I thought the claim that Japanese people can taste more flavors than foreigners was utter malarchy. Today, after visiting a Baskin Robbins (which they call 31, incidentally), I reconsidered. Why? Because I can't even begin to imagine what kind of flavor "Ghost World" should have.
And Ben, E - here's a flavor just for you: "Dolce For Vampire."
I don't think Japan will ever stop presenting me with these small, amusing surprises.
So now on to the slightly PG part of the post: this was a very tiring, expensive, busy, and yet satisfying weekend. Friday was my first day of classes, and though it went pretty well, it was exhausting. So what did I do after work? I went to my first "enkai" (company party), with about a dozen other teachers, my predecessor, and the principal and vice-principal. The party served as both a welcome for me and a farewell to my predecessor. There was drinking, speech-giving (I awed the room with a half-decent "thank-you" speech in Japanese, despite my drunkeness; even busted out a Japanese expression roughly meaning "you only live once, so get the most out of it"), buddying around with the higher-ups, and more drinking. At one point expressed my concern to the principal that he shouldn't overwork himself. He amusedly asked me if I thought he was weak - I did some backpeddling and all was well, as he eventually said that it is indeed important to work but also take care of oneself. Phew. Additionally, the VP had a heart-to-heart of sorts with me -- said that he can usually tell about people and he sees that I'm a good guy who tries hard. He then said that he wants to help me out as much as he can and wants me to meet his wife sometime, and that if I ever have trouble in Japan or need anything, to let him know. He really is a top-drawer guy.
After the staff party, a couple teachers, the VP, my pred, and myself all went out to a small karaoke bar, where we sang and drank more. After that, I, one teacher, and my pred went to his house and hung out for a couple hours before crashing.
Then yesterday I went home, showered, took a short (but too long) nap, then went into Osaka to attend a Toastmasters' party. A friend of mine is a member, and invited me and whoever else I wanted to bring; so I invited some other ALTs and we went. It was very fun and I met a lot of interesting people, including a couple other ALTs who are Toastmasters members. After the party we all went to karaoke, where I sang my voice into destruction. Since I was so enthusiastic and uninhibited with my singing (read: drunk), people kept passing me the backup mic. Fun times. After that, I went with two other ALTs (Joe and Lauren) to Joe's town, where we went to a bar until 3:00 a.m. and drank, ate nachos, and listened to Counting Crows (the owner likes Americans and American music). We then crashed, woke up today around 11:00 or so, and got ramen.
As I said, busy. I've never really been so active and spontaneous all at once, but you only live once, right?