Slim pickings so far, though. Just a cancelled band practice and a bus in St. Peters that’s 20 minutes late. Yawn.
Things are okay. I can’t believe it’s already March – time has really flown by. In just a few more weeks I will have lived in Japan longer than I have lived in Poland. Appropriately enough, I heard a Polish Radio External Service report this evening on the recent surge in popularity of traditional Polish cuisine in Warsaw restaurants. They talked about a lot of Polish dishes that I fondly remember, especially bigos, but also a lot of lighter and more straightforward dishes, too.
So what did I do during the second half of February? Well, on the weekend of Friday the 15th, we rented a Karaoke box and sang and ate ice cream and drank chu-hai for three hours. It was a little bit expensive; I think it ended up being close to $45 apiece. If all you want is singing, though, and not the unlimited drinks and ice cream, it might potentially be a little bit cheaper. But then it’s kind of pointless; I for one could have a superior level of enjoyment dancing and sashaying around my apartment singing along to my MP3 playlist.
The following Thursday, the 21st, we went to one of L.’s favourite restaurants. It was the kind where there wasn’t a lot of space and also the kind where you had to sit on the floor. With eight people and K. with her cast and crutches (her ankle was injured at the time), getting in and out was a nightmare. The food, luckily, was outstanding – I had some of the most succulent strips of pork I’ve ever tasted. Everything food-related was done well there.
Leaving was even more of a pain than coming because 1) we were all leaving at once 2) we were all paying separately and 3) a bunch of other blokes were trying to come in just at that moment. One literally pushed me aside without so much as a “Sumimasen,” and I literally fell sideways onto K. This made her lose her precarious balance, and she started to fall, but fortunately I think one of the other participants righted her (IIRC). (I don’t mean that she fell; I just mean that I don’t remember how she stopped falling!)
Anyway, after this we still got to have our Thursday night Japanese lesson with L. Every Thursday evening, F. and I feed L.; in exchange, he prepares a lesson and teaches us Japanese. It’s been working out fairly well – I’m enjoying it, and the weekly deadline forces me to study. On this particular night we went to the cybercafé, which is just the coolest little place there is. I’ll talk about it in a future post; I don’t have time to gush about it right now, but let’s leave it that it’s pretty sweet.
Saturday the 23rd was the school performance, which I’ve already talked about. We’ll be working another Saturday at the end of this week, this time for the purpose of being introduced to the new
After the performance we went bowling. It was 10-pin style, not candlepin (which is about all there is in the Maritimes), so I had to have the holes and other things explained to me. And you only get two shots! Still, it’s a lot easier to bowl a strike in this game, and I had two after I figured the game out. But I miss candlepin. It’s more intricate.
Shoe rental was pretty cool; you get your bowling shoes from a machine. In fact, there’s a whole line of machines, all ordered by shoe size (in centimetres). I wear 28.5. Well, it just so happens that that was the biggest size they had. Since this time, I’ve been poking around in shoe stores looking for slip-on shoes. At one place I saw slip-ons for $10 per pair, and I would have purchased two, but they only went up to 28! I looked around the rest of that store and I noticed that the half-sizes stopped at 28: 26.5, 27, 27.5, 28, then 29, then 30, then (likely) SOL. I’ll have to look for cheap shoes the next time I’m in a larger city.
I also met A. bowling. She’s a JET teacher on the south side of the city. We went to a concert the following day, and it was something else. The show was in a small, packed house called Crowbar – I took lots of pictures. (So did A. For me, she’s kind of like an evil twin; we both like taking photos, we both wear our backpacks everywhere, and we’re both… er, verbose. But she’s really really really straight-edge, just in case you netizens were getting any ideas. =)
Anyway, the show rocked. We even got to meet some of the performers afterward. I had fun explaining to a soulful singer that one gets their kicks on Route 66. I found out that he worked for a drinking water company; I could have sworn that music was his full-time job and that we were just blessed to have him in Tokushima that night.
And that brings us to this past weekend. On Friday, F. and I went to the cybercafé again – I’ll write about it and share what I wrote there tomorrow. (I promise that this journal will become less pedantic as time zips on, and I thank you for humouring me if you are.) Again, the cybercafé is five-star awesome.
On Saturday, it was cheap movie night again, and we saw The Golden Compass. What a movie! What a world! More than a few of us are going to start reading His Dark Materials just because of it. I’d give the movie a good 8 out of 10 – it was a lot cooler than I had expected based on reports of the so-so reviews it had been getting.
A. let us know before going in that we were in for a movie adaptation of the first instalment of a trilogy of books, so we weren’t expecting things to totally wrap up. Nevertheless, I found the ending satisfying anyway. But one of the other participants was sorely disappointed. He liked movies with endings that were, well, endings. A reasonable wish. He then said that he figured the title “The Golden Compass” meant that the story would be wrapped up in the one movie. But then we remembered The Philosopher’s Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring, and we had a good laugh.
On Sunday, we went to the musical Momotaro and the Revenge of Akaoni. It was a clever, witty, and well-acted pastiche, written and produced by JET participants in Tokushima. In fact, their theatre group has been running for about two decades, IIRC. We got to meet a few of the cast members after the show was over. They’d been rehearsing every weekend since Christmas, and they still had two more weekends of performances to put on. They were playing at a different venue every time (we saw them at Tokushima Hall), and I asked them about the logistical challenges involved in that – even some things like the texture of the stage can significantly alter some of the dance numbers, for instance.
Most importantly, though, one could see that they were having fun. I must also note that although the play was 95% English, there were many locals in the audience. Anyway, if F. and I are still around for 2009, we’ll definitely try to crash this group; they said we were welcome to audition or help even though we weren’t JETs.
After the show, we went to Jupiter for our import grocery needs. Jupiter lives up to its name – the planetary version is a giant solar system vacuum cleaner that cleans out all of the garbage from the inner solar system. The retail version is an effective Tokushima vacuum cleaner that sucks in the foreigners so that it’s possible to see them all in one spot. After we left, L. and I joked that between Jupiter and the play, we’d seen all of the foreigners in Tokushima. In fact, a pair of young foreigners I’d sighted in the audience had come to Jupiter straight from the play, just like we did!
Oh, this is good. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. One more day, and I’ll be caught up on this. Then I can start getting caught up on other things!