This weekend started out with the school’s bounenkai (忘年会), forget-the-year party. A shuttle bus picked up teachers from the school and drove us to 丸峰観光ホテル (Marumine Kankou Hotel) at 芦ノ牧温泉 (Ashinomaki Onsen). We had an amazing dinner, where rows of individual table settings with plates and hot pot arrangements for each teacher was placed. For entertainment, the MCs and other teachers dressed up as Doraemon and Nobita, President Obama, Spider-man, and… an eggplant. We played trivia games and drank like crazy and chatted. I can’t drink too much beer, so eventually I switched to shochuu, which is pretty strong, but at least it doesn’t give me headaches like beer does. After dinner, we went to the second party, where we snacked and chatted some more. I got a lot of comments about how teachers think I’m quite Japanese, but I constantly remind them that I’m not at all. I need to save myself from the intense Japanese work ethic that may follow down the road! Finally, an hour before midnight when the hot springs closed, a number of us left the party to bathe and enjoy the outdoor pool, 露天風呂 (rotenburo). The snow was falling at this point, which is a great combination with the hot spring; if it got too hot, just keep your body above the water a bit, and you’re good!
The snow came down like crazy that evening because it was perfectly white all morning. We took the shuttle bus back and I walked my first snowy trek home. It was a little scary because I was afraid of taking the wrong step and slipping, or falling into a hole I didn’t see. Also, the snow along the roads are so dirty!
From there, I took a bus to Tokyo to do a SantaCon scavenger hunt in Nakameguro with some friends from the industry. Tokyo was totally different from Aizu: no snow, the sun was shining, it was a briskly cold. I had some time to kill, so I went to look for gossip Cafe in Omotesando, a queer-friendly place with a library full of LGBT literature. The GPS on my phone was going haywire though, so I made some wrong turns and took a little longer to find it. The area felt quite a bit like Noe Valley, with some new renovated buildings and cool, swanky shops. On this day, a lesbian couple, Sunny & Honey, were selling their goods at the cafe, we got into a bit of conversation, and I bought some of their buttons. I could wear them to school, and suss out some students… As if I’m not obvious already. Hoping to run into these two during Tokyo Pride and film festivals.
After having some curry rice, I walked to Nakameguro, and the Santa Claus hunt was on. One of the instructions said to find the closest 7-11, and go from there to find a phone booth, but unfortunately, we went to the wrong one, and ended up at a phone shop, instead of a phone booth. After getting back on track, we ended up at the party place, where I was finally introduced to one of the guys from 8-4. I hope we get a chance to work together.
So my original plan was to go to 2-choume, the gay district from the Santa Con (while everyone was great and I had a good time, I really wanted to feel my peoples’ vibe), but I had an early morning, and decided to just go to the capsule hotel I reserved and crash. After 5 hours of sleep, I took a walk in the early morning through Tokyo, before anyone was up and crowded the streets. I walked through 2-choume, and there were still people hanging out at the bars, in full drag even. For a while though, as I was heading close to 2-choume, I noticed that a middle-aged man who was originally in front of me, hung back until I caught up, then walked from behind me. I kept looking at his face, not really sure what he wanted, not believing that he’d actually hurt me, though the thought did cross my mind. I took a turn down an alley where I thought the FTM bar was (but wasn’t), and finally shook him off.
Anyway, back to the snow Aizu.
I had committed to going to a charity event thrown by the Filipinos in my town to raise money for the typhoon victims, and didn’t have a ride, so walked about 40 minutes from the station to the venue. Great exercise! Not too cold, but it was getting to be so after while, but I finally made it on my own without a car. PROUD! I hope to tone down the fat, but keep the muscle this winter!
As for recent classes, I taught the 1st years the 12 days of Christmas for the week, and had them play a game where they had to make up their own presents for the 12 days, and try to remember what the last kid said within the last 10 minutes of class. Pretty happy that the lesson incorporated listening, reading, writing, and speaking all together. I’ll be finishing it up with the last class tomorrow, but I’m been sniffling and having a phlegmy-feeling throat, so I hope I’m not coming down with something.
What a weekend!