I meant to publish this last week (two weeks ago?), but やっぱり, had too much on my plate to finish all my food. And right now, as I type this, I find that there are a series of things I want to do tonight, but I may not have time to do everything. All day, I had been working on my Japanese test (the JET Program offers a very useful self-study Japanese course), so my activities tonight would be mostly recreational. I wanted to get some guitar practice in as well (have I mentioned that I own two guitars now? I don't recall). Speaking of guitars, when I was in Sendai, I found an instrument section of a CD store. One of my guitars is a K-Garage Stratocaster by Kikutani Music.
So late March marks the end of the school year and fiscal year in Japan. It's a time when people change jobs, including teachers, public employees, and company employees. Graduation from all major types of schools in Japan happens in this month as well, to coincide with the matriculation of new students and employees in early April.
I went to a couple going away parties; one for the Junior High, and one for the Town Hall. The Junior High going-away party was particularly amusing. It was sad to see the Principal go, as it was his final year working. In Japan, people retire at age 60. And it's not even a voluntary thing, really; people are forced to retire at age 60. Usually people do their own thing from that point on, like run a private business or do various odd jobs. But if you are a normal "salaryman" you definitely gotta retire; especially if you're a public servant.
In any case, the Principal, a very nice guy who was a former English teacher, said his final goodbyes to us at the party. Other teachers who left was the Industrial Arts teacher, who is just two years my senior (great guy, fantastic guitarist), the Nutritionist (she is in charge of our school food), the head office guy (also very friendly), and one of the incredibly kind assistant teachers whose daughter was one of my nursery school students. It was sad to see them all go. But we all enjoyed our last feast with them.
Here is the part where I mention the really amusing part. So, most of us had been drinking throughout the party and were quite tipsy towards the end. And in drinking parties like this, people always walking around pouring drinks for people and sitting in other people's seats. I had gotten up to go to the restroom, and when I got back, the Japanese Class sensei was sitting in my seat. Let's call her Kokugo-sensei (国語 「こくご」 "kokugo" is literally "country language," and it is what "Japanese class" is called in Japan). So anyway, Kokugo-sensei is in her early thirties; a fun, energetic, genki teacher. I went up next to her and pretended to start sitting back down in my seat. "Just kidding!" I said, as I began to sit in the adjacent seat. She said, "No no, please sit," as she scooted over and made room for me on the seat. So, I sat next to her, as she requested.
Of course, it's difficult for two adults to sit on one restaurant chair comfortably, so I had to cross my legs and rest my left arm on the seat back behind Kokugo-sensei. A few other teachers were laughing as they saw me do this and engage Kokugo-sensei in conversation. We were talking about traveling in Europe, and I was trying to draw a map in the air of places I've traveled. She didn't quite understand the respective locations, so she held out her hand and had me "draw" the map again on her palm with my finger. At this point, the laughter from other teachers turned into gawking, and a couple of them started yelling, "That's dangerous! Dangerous!!!" in Japanese. "Kokugo-sensei, go back to your seat!!!" As she got up, she replied, "...just drawing a map..."
The Town Hall going away party was much larger, and held in the town center. Of the seven or so people leaving, one of them was a senior member of my Board of Education, whom I'll call Mr. Masters. Mr. Masters was awesome; he helped me out so much with so many things. The biggest in particular was in helping me purchase my beautiful car (he helped by introducing me to his mechanic, who ordered it for me). Her name is Misa (I'll explain that in some later post).
So it was really sad to see him go. Interestingly enough, I sat next to my former supervisor, Supes! It was fun shooting the shit with him again. And after dinner, I went with him to the Nijikai (Second Party), which is essentially the term for "After Party." Lots of people from the first party showed up. Someone turned on the karaoke machine and we sang some songs. I ended the night by singing "Hotel California" with a very drunk Japanese guy. Good times.
Word of the Day: 酔っ払い 「よっぱらい」 "yopparai," or "drunkard;" "someone who is drunk."