The other day, all of the returning JET participants from Kagawa had to gather at the prefectural office to give our thanks to the governor. None of us were overly excited about this exercise, but it did mean that we got to have a couple hours out of the classroom. We all arrived and filtered into a large room, where we chatted until the top brass arrived.
From here they thanked us for all that we did, and then told us to ask some questions. This is such a Japanese government thing to do, planning a question time with which to ambush us. Then, while we are all scrambling for something meaningful to say, they just sit on the opposite side of the table staring at us. Given how stupid we all looked, they opened up the time to also include comments we might have. I let them know that the mountains and the sea likely make my home in Shionoe likely the most beautiful place I shall ever live. Ryan asked about what future problems Kagawa faces in the next ten years, while another commented on how wonderful the local art festival is. That seemed to be enough to appease our overlords, so they let us move on to the next part of the event.
With the hard part behind us, we received some small gifts (a fan and bandanna with a local flair to them), took a group photo, and then finally learned how to apply for our social welfare refund. Having this crowd in town all at once was a bit of a rarity, and Ryan capitalized on it by organizing a beer garden for us.
The Yashima Plateau rising above the urban Jungle of Takamatsu as enjoyed from the beer garden
One of the finer aspects of Summer in Japan are indeed these beer gardens, which are usually perched at the top of large buildings in the open air. With a reservation, people are able to come join their friends and hundreds of other people for an all-you-can-eat/drink arrangement. I hadn’t actually had the chance to come to one of these for ages, and we were all pretty excited about the crowd that the event drew. We dug right into the plethora of food. There was a delicious buffet to be had, as well as an impressive array of self serve beers.
The most logical food tray I have ever encountered
This first stage of the night started with conversations about what the post-JET future looked like for each of us. There was talk of employment, kids and the relative uncertainty surrounding leaving this life and starting a new one, but we were able to put all of that out of our heads and focus on the fun. As the hours passed, our excitement only grew. We played various games from our different cultures, such as 5s, 007 Bang, and Go Back Jump what had us getting pretty loud, but fortunately most of the people had left by this point. When the place closed up, the Brits decided to share their patriotism with the remaining patrons in the form of song. It was horrendous.
Twelve of us
The next stop of the evening was a restaurant where it was claimed they had complementary karaoke. While the claims were well founded, the song selection was some of the worst any of us had ever encountered. They just didn’t really have a whole lot of new ones, and the devices used to order one up were archaic. We did have a nice time together, but this marked the end of the night for most of us. In all, it was a lot of fun to hang out with this interesting mix of people. Because we all realize what limited time we have left, the willingness to get out and see each other is running at a high. Lettin’ the good times roll.