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That Missing Month

2010 January 22

What was I up to during that posting slump in late November/early December?
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I was going to say, not much, but I guess looking back on it, a decent amount.

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November’s main event was the Mid-Year Seminar for Shimane JETs and Japanese teachers of English (JTEs), held in Izumo. Those of us coming from afar piled into Sun Lake, a facility obviously built for team-building exercises; participants sleep 5 or 6 to a room, the baths are communal, there’s a curfew… it was quite an experience. The seminars were really interesting and helpful, though, and of course it’s always good to catch up with other ALTs.

I would have done more catching up by going to the birthday party for one of the Oki Island JETs that weekend, but being allowed to drive my work car to Izumo meant I had to return it. Instead, I attended the birthday party of a local gaijin enthusiast, which ended with us at a snack bar singing karaoke. A snack bar is a hostess bar, as disappointing as that is. I don’t recommend going to one unless you’re prepared for some very interesting women.

There was a holiday on Monday that weekend (apparently the Happy Monday policy enacted by the government a few years ago is responsible for all these long weekends, and I approve), so I felt bad sitting around Hamada. Instead, I took the train back up to Matsue and went shopping in Yonago with a friend.

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When I got back, I got my hair cut. 🙂 I’ve been happy with it, although I really do need to get the color fixed at some point.

The Japanese being a seasonal people, Christmas started promptly in December. I really enjoyed Christmas in Japan more than I’ve ever enjoyed Christmas in America, but then again I’m not and have never been Christian. The Christians in town missed home a lot more than I did. I felt finally able to enjoy Santa et al, and I had a great time running children’s Christmas parties and amazing classes with pictures of Christmas light displays in my hometown (thanks to a friend rushing me some pictures!). The one thing I did miss was Chanukah and latkes with my family, but I experimented and was able to make them, and I did find sour cream to put on them. At least I had the taste of home. 🙂
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And speaking of taste of home – there’s no Mexican food in Japan! The once-a-month English conversation group that meets at the French restaurant in town was complaining about this, since some of the members have lived in America and miss it as much as the Americans do. We resolved to make some ourselves, so one Sunday in December after eikaiwa, we moved to someone’s house and had a Mexican-style potluck. It was DELICIOUS. I have to get the recipe for the guacamole dip we had, although I’m worried that if I learn to make it at home, I won’t be able to eat anything else for dinner.

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Snow first hit Hamada in late December. It’s a little bizarre: central Hamada, being by the sea, doesn’t get much snow; but as soon as I leave the city and venture into the countryside, the snow starts to pile up. There are pictures on Flickr of the first good snowstorm in Haza, one of my farthest schools. I haven’t had to deal with snow at Ino yet, thank goodness; the roads to Haza are much bigger! At least I finally discovered the 4WD button in my work car.

The last big ALT event in December was a mulled wine party at Shane’s. It’s apparently a tradition for him and his friends at home, so before he left on vacation, he invited us all over. I brought homemade latkes and eggnog, but the party focus was boiling cheap wine with fruit. Man was it delicious.

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The 24th was my last day of school, but instead of having class at Ino, we met at the Ino Community Center for a New Year’s preparation party. We constructed traditional New Year’s decorations (I don’t know the names of all the plants involved, but bamboo, pine, and plum are among them) and made toshikoshi (end of the year) soba. It’s traditional to eat these buckwheat noodles in December before the new year comes, for good luck. We made the noodles ourselves from flour and water, then ate them in soup with green onions and fish cake. Good stuff. 🙂

I came back early and had a couple hours at the BoE, then a couple hours to get my bills paid and my stuff together. At 7 PM I got on the bus for Tokyo.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sparks permalink
    2010 January 23 2:20 am

    Landon complained about the Mexican thing too ALL the time. When he came home EVERY other night was mexican food.

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