Hisashiburi! “Long time no see!” Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile, but I’ve been very busy doing a plethora of other very urgent things, such as playing in the snow, having the flu, and wandering around our little corner of Japan. Perhaps most notable, for those of you who are wondering when or if you’ll ever see us again, or be invited to one of our wine and cheese parties, is that we’ve both officially signed on for a second year – so the answer: unless you’re planning to visit us, you’ll have to wait a little while longer!
I have a new most embarrassing moment, that I earned at our work Bounenkai “forget the year party.” We were to be seated banquet style, and asides from two people – the principal and vice-principal – we were to be seated by lottery. I drew my number… and was seated at the left hand of the principal. Now, I have spoken to the principal a total of one time up until this point – when he welcomed me on my first day. So I was a little nervous. That’s not the embarassing part though, it gets better.
In Japan, at parties, the way it works is you cannot pour your own drink, so you have to make sure the people around you always have a full glass and they will do the same for you. At the start of the party, we do “kanpai” (similar to starting a meal with a toast), so everyone needs a full glass. The drink of choice was beer, so I ended up pouring the principal’s beer, realizing as I did so that, not being a beer-drinker myself, this was my first time to pour a glass of beer.
You may have already guessed where this is going: I poured it fairly quickly, as I was nervous, and almost to full. Then, as I set the glass down in front of him, much to my horror, it began to bubble up and overflow like a mug of root beer with an ice cream scoop dumped into it. It might not have been so bad, if I could explain to him that I’ve never poured a beer before, and make some joke to shrug it off… but as it stands, I am linguistically and socially retarded. So I just apologized and shrunk into my chair.
I have had many joyful moments, too. Such as every time it snows. It apparently doesn’t snow very often in our area – you can tell by the fact that, when it does snow even a couple centimeters, people put chains on their cars and pour hot water onto their windscreens to defrost them (heard of an ice scraper?). But when it does snow, there is at least one ecstatic adult frolicking around the neighbourhood: me.
They don’t cancel school though, unless the trains can’t run, so no snow day for my students and I. In an attempt to fulfill my duty as a representative of other cultures, I invited all the first-year students to build snowmen and have a snowball fight at lunchtime. A mass free-for-all snowball fight ensued, which involved me being the target of almost everyone’s attacks. I was a fearsome opponent though, and caused many a student to flee from my barrage of hastily and skillfully made snowballs. Don’t mess with the Canadian.
We’ve also gone in search of snow a few times, when it wouldn’t come to us. We spent a couple days snowboarding at Nagano to celebrate our first wedding anniversary – which astroviper will be posting about, so I won’t say much here – and spent yesterday riding in Gifu. One of the most noticeable differences between riding in North America and riding here, well asides from Japanese mountains being “shorter” and populated mainly by deciduous trees, is that you are assaulted by a constant barrage of announcements and music of less-than-desirable taste, blasted from the various buildings and chairlift towers. It kind of takes away from the peaceful outdoors feel. That, and the chairlift lineups have no hint of organization – no dividing ropes or merging or anything – so it results in an everyone-for-themselves system, which dispels any and all notions of Japanese politeness one may hold. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, there are a lot of differences, so I may have to continue these thoughts in a subsequent post.
On sickness, I suppose there’s not much of interest to say. I had a cold/sinus infection, followed immediately by the flu. So basically, it sucked. During the worst of it, I didn’t leave the couch for five days, and a lot of darkspawn met their demise (I played a lot of Dragon Age: Origins). At least we managed to procure the basics: Ginger Ale, soda crackers and chicken noodle soup. Ah, the comforts of home.
In other news, we went to the World Hobby Fair in Nagoya last weekend. We were possibly among the only people there who weren’t either under 15, or the parents of kids under 15. Pokemon, Monster Hunter, and 3DS galore. They had the new 3DS on display, we got to check it out, but decided not to wait in line for 90+ minutes to demo one. In fact, the only lineup that wasn’t over half an hour was for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so we tried it out. It was great fun, I played as the Hulk and won hands down – I’ve always been a pretty good button-masher! Not much else to say about it, but I did take a few pictures, so you can check them out below.
Finally, I mentioned earlier that we signed on for a second year in Japan. We had originally planned to stay at least two years, as long as we liked it enough, and we did, so we are. There’s a lot we still want to do here, that we definitely can’t all do in one year. Plus, going through all the trouble to learn Japanese seems futile if we’re only here for a year. Of course, there’s many more reasons, but I won’t bore you with all the pros and cons. So, among other things, here’s to another year of blogging about Japan! Kanpai!