The first day of the weekend wasn’t very exciting—I just went with my students for speech practice at the contest location in Tateyama on Saturday—but the rest of the weekend was excellent.
Tateyama Festival—September 16th
I have no idea what any of these festivals are called, but apparently this was the biggest one! It was at a large temple in Tateyama, near Aeon Town (the shopping center), and there were mikoshi and dashi and hella food.
I met up with Ebony, and we walked around for about three hours just looking at stuff. We even went into a Haunted House exhibit! Ebony was scared out of her mind, and it was the funniest goddamn thing ever.
We ran into a lot of her students, but I didn’t see any of my students all day. I was starting to feel like maybe I just wasn’t recognizing them, but eventually they began to appear! I don’t know them as well as Ebony knows her students, but I said hello when they greeted me, and they asked me some questions before we all moved on.
I had planned to meet up with Victor, Jeff, and Mike at the festival because they were going to carry the mikoshi, but I never saw them. They were probably too busy carrying it.
Mikoshi are these palanquin things that are supposed to contain gods. They are gorgeous.
There were also a few dashi, which are pulled by a rope. There are some daiko players sitting on the top, along with some flautists (or whatever they were playing).
Do you remember way back in another entry when I mentioned that I helped to pull a float? That was a dashi! Here are some dashi that were at Tateyama!
Ebony and I met up with some non-JET English teachers later. We found Masato, a guy who lives next to Masato (I’m really sorry, I can’t remember his name, but Masato knows him), Barry, and Barry’s friend (I can’t remember his name either, but he is Japanese and his English is very good). They all turned out to live very close to each other, so we found some new friends for Masato!
They were all really fun, and as the festival was winding down, we all decided to get a Frisbee, an ukulele and some beers, and go down to the beach.
However, Barry didn’t end up going to get his ukulele. He lectured us on how to pronounce it properly, which was pretty funny. It’s not “you-ke-lay-lee,” it’s “oo-ku-lay-lay.” Haha!
We also couldn’t find a Frisbee at Aeon, so we just grabbed some beers and went to the beach, which was only a block away from Aeon, too.
Did I mention that it’s legal to drink in public in Japan? It is. At the beginning of the day, Ebony bought some beers from Aeon when we first met up. She said it would be okay, because we wouldn’t be driving for a few hours. We did run into her students almost immediately though, and they all said, “EBONY-SENSEI ARE YOU DRINKING?”
Ebony: “No, this is juice.”
They didn’t believe her.
Anyway, we sat down at the beach and drank, and when it got dark and fireworks began to go off, we walked down to the water and waded a little. Masato and Ebony ended up getting really wet, because the waves kept catching them by surprise, and they were wearing longer pants. Masato was also pretty tipsy, so he “accidentally” splashed her.
We got hungry, and we wanted some cheap food, so we were going to walk down to Coco’s (again, about two blocks away). Barry and his friend wanted some festival food, though, so we parted ways.
And then suddenly, rain.
It started to rain so hard! It was crazy! And the funny thing was, as I was walking out the door that morning, I looked at my umbrella and thought, “I should bring that.”
And of course, I didn’t.
Ebony had a plastic beach blanket, though, so we used that to cover ourselves as we ran to the nearest shelter. The nearest shelter happened to be Ken’s, that restaurant that I first ate at with the other ALTs in Minamiboso. Ebony didn’t want to eat there, though, because it’s not very good, and there was a long wait anyway. We decided to head back to Aeon Town, which had some restaurants we wanted to try. It was also where Ebony and I had parked, and it was nearer to Masato’s apartment building. So it was more convenient for everyone.
We braved the rain and made it back to Aeon… completely soaked. I was actually okay, but Ebony, Masato, and the other guy were drenched.
We found a restaurant with no wait time and sat down. Masato ran to the Daiso to buy a ¥100 shirt, and a few students at the surrounding tables talked to us. They told me, “You are beautiful.” One of the few adjectives that we ever teach our students apparently. In class a few days ago, one of my students also told me, “Your eyes are very beautiful.”
Dinner was good—I had moco loco (though that’s not what they call it in Japan)—and it was really cool to see Masato again.
Monday, September 17—Sushi with Ebony
I needed to go shopping for some stuff—mainly bed sheets. I really need to make this house mine, because it still feels rather temporary. I’ve been redecorating a little, and I really want to make the bed my own gorram bed. So I went out to buy bed stuff!
As I was driving to the ATM, Ebony called and asked if I wanted to get lunch. She had just finished speech contest practice (which she volunteered to do on the holiday). She said she would help me with shopping afterwards. Deal!
So we got some ¥100 sushi!
It was cheap, but it was pretty good! It was a rotating sushi bar, so you just grabbed a plate that you wanted off the conveyor belt and paid by plate at the end. Cool!
Also, I wanted to mention that I found a Bob’s Big Boy—about a block away from Aeon. (Damn, everything is near Aeon.)
MAN, WHAT IS THIS, AMERICA?
On Thursday last week, I went out for okonomiyaki with Kim and Jeff, which was pretty cool! I didn’t take a picture, but it was my first okonomiyaki experience, and it was delicious. You cook the food yourself on the hot plate table in front of you, like Korean barbecue.
That same night, I also visited the only pool I can find around these parts. Kim went in with me to interpret, and the man told us about the membership plans, the pay-as-you-come-in plan, and the available equipment. He showed us the pool, and it looked decent! There were maybe six lanes, and there were not a lot of people in them at all.
Then he told us that the pool was 32°C.
You guys, that’s 90°F.
DDD: Normal lap swimming temperature is 82°F. That’s way too hot for me. That’s like swimming laps at Akai. Sometimes the pool at Akai would be too hot for me when I wasn’t moving around. One time, when I was teaching, the pool was really hot, and I found out that it was 90°F. I could not stay in that pool. I seriously felt like I was getting heat stroke. It was awful.
DDD: I’m still going to try that pool, probably next week, but… That’s really hot… It is a sauna pool, so the man said, but damn… people swim laps in that! How is that possible?!
Maybe during the winter it will be perfect. :/
I can’t remember what I wanted to put here…
Today during lunch, I walked around the school because I was bored. I don’t eat lunch with the students yet, but I kind of want to. I’m still afraid of them though, honestly. I’m not sure how well communication will go, and I don’t want either side to get frustrated…
Anyway, I leaned into each classroom (because the students eat in their classrooms), and said, “HELLO!”
Some students looked amused, but others just looked at me like I was a moron. I didn’t stay in those classrooms for very long.
One of the 1st year classes got really excited, so I stood in the door a bit longer there. One student asked me if I had tried natto yet, and when I said I had, they all asked how it was. I wasn’t sure how to answer—it was okay.
Yusuke: [translated] “Natto is the worst.”
Another girl asked me a question, but I didn’t understand. It was something about smiling. The boy who had asked me about natto explained.
Boy: [translated] “You smile every day.”
Me: “I do?”
Me: (turning to the girl) “So?”
Girl: “Naze?” [Why?]
Me: “…Why not?”
Then they all looked confused, so I laughed and waved good-bye. XD
And I thought, “TAKE THAT, PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK I SMILE! TAKE THAT!”
A lot of people used to say I looked angry when I was lifeguarding, and some people accuse me of never smiling.
First of all: Who the fuck smiles when they’re lifeguarding? That’s damn creepy.
Second of all: I’m sorry?
TAKE THAT. MY STUDENTS APPARENTLY THINK I SMILE TOO MUCH. IN YOUR FACE.
One of my friends mentioned that she likes when I mention music in my entries. I couldn’t find a good time to bring it up mid-entry, so I’ll just tell you here.
Recently, I’ve been listening to Gotye’s “Hearts A Mess.” The music video is weird (like all of his videos), but the song’s great.
I also really like Ellie Goulding’s “Lights.” I also rediscovered Lhasa de Sela’s “Fool’s Gold,” which is a beautiful song that I haven’t listened to since I finished watching The United States of Tara.
So those are my recommendations of the… er… day?
P.S. Also, this is hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32uUNUypjYs
It’s Conan O’Brien playing Resident Evil 6, a zombie video game, and he has no idea what he’s doing.
Cast of Characters
Ebony as… 2nd year ALT in Maruyama. She is from New York.
Masato as… a non-JET English teacher in Tateyama. He is new to the area, but not to Japan. He is also of Japanese descent, but he is from Washington, I think. Seattle.
Barry as… a non-JET English teacher in Tateyama. He is new to the area, too. I think he said he is from Canada.
dashi: Floats that are pulled by a rope at Japanese festivals.
mikoshi: Palanquins that are carried at Japanese festivals. They are supposed to have gods in them.