After a minor change with the ticket, I was able to get Sandy here to stay with me for about a month. She is serving as fantastic company and compliments an at home life of solitude. In addition to bringing companionship, she also served as a means for my parents to send me some things I was in need of. Christmas presents, clothes, trinkets and the like all made it over. I’m very pleased with that.
Of course the point of Sandy being here is to show he what I’m up to so many miles away from home, and to make sure that she enjoys her time to the. Sandy arrived, on Friday, December 17 and we have hit the ground running already. Getting in around midnight, and after 27 hours of travel, it was time for sleep so we called it a night. Usually by Friday, my sleep schedule has me about dead as well. On Saturday, we woke up and stuck to the mundane. We went to the grocery store, which I would say is pretty interesting when you don’t what anything is. We grabbed the necessities and made our way home. I took her to a local restaurant where she had her first taste of real Japanese cuisine, Beef Udon. Nothing too special, but still good.
After lunch, we just relaxed until it was time to go to my Taiko Practice. This is the drum group that I am a part of, and join in on practices on a weekly basis. Sandy really enjoys percussion, so it was good to get her along to this. The people are all fantastic, and were very welcoming to Sandy. We will be joining this group for a drinking, eating, and karaoke party on Christmas day, which I am very excited about, so it was nice to plant some seeds early. Towards the end of practice, they were able to get Sandy on a drum and teach her to play, despite her hesitations.
Then on Sunday, we went out to the city to do a little bit of caroling. This was planned by my friend Ryan, and had a number of people coming in to participate. This would be a first chance to really meet the people I spend the bulk of my time with. The event went well, and had us as foreigners on display in remarkable fashion. As if there weren’t enough people to notice us, singing loudly in English in public places certainly helped to garner more stares. Sandy took the camera and captured some of it.
Monday involved a much needed haircut for me. This was my first haircut since before I had gone to visit Sandy in Arizona sometime around mid July. It was starting to get quite shaggy, and without my mother and sister to complain incessantly, I never succumbed to the barber. The only thing that made this different was the fact that I had commissioned Sandy to cut my, hair. Since I don’t really are what my hair looks like, I figured this would be a low cost way of a making a good memory. I will say that she did pretty good, though from from professional. There is a bit of unevenness all over, and some lengths don’t match at all, but it was fun. On Tuesday, everyone was noticing my haircut, as it was quite a bit different.
On Wednesday, Sandy was able to join me at school for what would be our Christmas party. This was only the 13 person school so we had a good time. I had to plan the events and then we played with the kids, Sandy also was able to experience firsthand the nature of schools in Japan through recess and lunch. We both tried to learn to ride unicycles, though despite the attention of the students, it was a no go. As for the party, I threw some relay games and contests together at the last second, which were actually completely successful. Then Sandy and I did a little singing with self made motions to “The 12 Days of Christmas”. O yeah, I was dressed as Santa, in a 4 dollar costume I bought. Also included in the day was a concert performed by the kids in honor of us as well as birthday fanfare and card giving. Great day as a whole.
One of the relay races
Thursday we celebrated the Emperor’s birthday (national holiday) by eating mac n’ cheese and going to a mall. This was a good time, we also had to do a little shopping for one of parties that was coming up on the weekend. It was a welcomed outing, as I hadn’t been there either. Friday, I was able to take Sandy to the kindergarten where we had another party. I had to dress as a Santa again and then hand out gifts, which was fun of course. Then I went to another school and Sandy went to perform my same role at another Kindergarten with Makita Sensei. These times are so fun, since little effort needs to be put into the events and classes for them to be successes, everyone has a great time.
Saturday, Christmas, we woke up as usual with plans to just relax. It was a really nice day for it too, a good day to get bundled up. Also, in these place, we get very little snow, but somehow managed to get a few wisps on Christmas. That was pretty cool. This day, we had to go to the community center where we do our drumming. It was the end the year cleaning I guess and we really tore the place apart. Doing maintenance and scrubbing down every surface for a solid 2 hours. From here, we took off right to our party. This was another of the year-end-parties that most groups will do. It was fantastic, and was also a great chance for Sandy to see this side of Japanese culture.
The gathering was everyone in the group and some of their kids. The way these gatherings work is that they keep bringing a set menu in about 6 courses with bottomless drinks, which always makes for a great possibility to socialize and enjoy. Food included raw fish (sashimi), escargot, and salad. Midway through, we played bingo with the gifts that we brought. Sandy and I both walked away with strange snack items, but someone also gave me a popular kid’s toy called a Kendama. These are like catching a ball on a string in the cup, but a bit more challenging. I was actually pretty excited about it. So after things wrapped up, we made a move to our last stop for the night, karaoke. I doubt I need to explain the popularity of Karaoke in Japan, so it should come as no surprise that people were all over this sort of thing. We get there, more snacks and drinks were ordered and it was singing time. This was a first for Sandy, and I was glad she was able to to experience the Japanese in their element. We had a great time, and at the end of this, it was time to go home.
Picture of most of the group.
Sandy and I enjoying a fine lager
A sweep of the scene
Once home, it was time to Skype in to the home front so that we could join them for Christmas morning. Sandy and I were able to open the gifts that my parents had sent with her, so it was almost as good as the real thing. I had a good time and of course got many several things I was happy with. It was good to see everyone and chat, though, exhaustion took over and it was off to bed.
The next few days had us just hanging out. I had two days of work to go to, so Sandy busied herself with movies and sleep till I got home. We then cooked a nice meal (nabe) and also went to the mall. All in all, we were gearing up for an amazing trip to Osaka and Tokyo over New Year’s.