Birthday shenanigans

The weekend ended up being a bit of a social whirlwind, full of food, booze and all-round busy-ness. On Friday I was thinking about going to karate, but felt tired so decided to skive. Instead I went for sushi with Hitomi and Satou Sensei. Satou-San teaches at a nearby school, and since the three of us are going sightseeing to Nara next weekend, he wanted to meet me first. We had a great dinner of kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi. Yum.

On Saturday I met seven friends and went to MokuMoku for vast amounts of food and ice-cream. As always, it was excellent. Afterwards a few of us went on to the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, which was running an exhibition called “Japan, a self-portrait, 1945-1964”. It was a huge collection of photos taken by Japanese photographers, documenting life in Japan from WW2 until the mid-sixties. It was amazing to see the conditions Japan reverted to after the war – many people were living in abject poverty, especially in the countryside, and having recently visited Cambodia made me notice a lot of similarities in living conditions! It also documented the rapid rise in Japan’s fortunes, and the accompanying introduction of American customs and day-to-day items, thanks to the occupation. We were lucky enough to be accosted by a middle-aged Japanese man who spoke excellent English (and wasn’t weird – always a result!) who told us the back-stories of some of the shots. There was an older man there too, who had obviously lived through the period, with whom he spoke to and translated the conversation back to us. Fascinating.
After that we grabbed a very light dinner and headed home, as I had to be up early the next day for the JLPT test the next morning. It went pretty well – a few tricky questions, but I’d done a lot of past papers so I’m not worried about failing.
Not sure if I mentioned my karate grading too. I suspect not, as I’ve been a bit slack compared to my normal blogging pace. Well, it went… OK. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. I have a lot of stuff to work on still. Trying not to dwell on the fact it didn’t go as well as I wanted to – don’t want to get trapped in a cycle of negative thinking, so just continuing training as normal.
Anyhow, I ended up meeting some new people at the JLPT test. My apartment-block mate Martin did it, and some of his friends were also having a second attempt. There was a guy called Doug, who I’ve vaguely met before but always thought was a bit weird as a result of seeing him inhaling cigarettes and drinking coffee outside the convenience store near school, and doing it in a way that suggested he might spontanouesly combust whilst doing so. Turns out he’s just shy and comes across as a bit nervous. I met his fiance, an Australian, who was cool, and another guy from England (yay). We all went for a drink afterwards, which of course turned into several, and ended up going for a curry afterwards. We were also joined by Yumi and Takeshi, both Japanese. They were awesome, especially Yumi, who also loves food and is a bit crazy! Nice to spend some time with a few locals, especially as the pub is always the best place to practise your Japanese ;)
As you can imagine, not being used to the Evil Booze, Monday was tough. Ended up missing karate, cooking a weeks supply of soup and getting an early night. Have put myself on a new diet – banana and satsumas for breakfast, soup for dinner. Need to reduce the size of my big gaijin arse in order to increase it again with cheese and wine over the summer holidays.
This week is the last at this school, and for the last two days of this week I’m only doing Christmas classes. The main activities involve making cards and snowflakes, the latter of which will be stuck all over the windows of the English classroom :) Only 10 or so more days until the end of term, and then two more till I fly home for Christmas – woo!

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