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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best Valentine's Ever!!!!

Valentine’s Day was awesome. It’s not due to the love of any one man, but that of about 50 Japanese and foreigners. Today I gave my first “Chatland”. Chatland is an event held by the Iwate International Association to give Japanese people a better understanding of the rest of the world.

The day before the presentation,I was ready to crawl under my bed and hide for the weekend, but it worked out pretty good. I finished putting together the Power Point the same morning. And then had to translate 3 single spaced pages into Japanese. Since it was a speech, I just went through the slides and looked up the words I didn’t know. I was a bundle of nerves as I walked to the train station. But God is good and things appeared to distract me. My neighbour Kiguchi san who I had only seen twice before (including last week) was standing at the corner and she stopped to talk to me about how windy it was. It was windy. Ridiculous. But at least, all the snow is melting. The town is pretty much a river. It was so warm that melted snow was just gushing everywhere. Then I ran into some of my kids from my main elementary school (shogakkou). They asked me where I was going with a suitcase. I told them to Morioka. They asked for what. I told them to give a speech. The wind was so strong by this time that I had to even cross the road to hear them.

When I got to the station there was no one in the booth, so I bought the ticket on the train, because Japanese trains are just that cool! Since I get in the train station 4 minutes before I had to be in Aiina, I buy a McD’s and run cross the road. The wind was even stupider. I got blown into a bench. I am a Buffalo compared to the Japanese so they were blowing about like leaves.

Anyhow, I crossed the road without being blown into a car and found the room that my lecture was to be held in. As soon as I land, Oyama san reimbursed my train fare. Since I budgeted for this trip, that means I will definitely taking another trip next weekend. Maybe back to my capital or maybe to a city in the prefecture North of me (which is actually closer than my capital). Especially since payday was Monday. Legitimately speaking though, I need to go to the bookstore and to the electronics store and I promise myself a movie a month.

So I set my stuff up and went and eat my McD’s (Japanese McDonalds is a zillion times better than American one, but the burgers are still too thin). Then I went back to the lecture room to wait for time to start. Ooyama-san introduced me in her high-pitched Japanese voice. Right about then my heart was in my shoes. “Hi, I’m Claire. I’ve been in Japan for 6 months,” felt like an AA meeting. I was so nervous, but then I was telling them about slavery, cricket, education, calypso and Crop Over and it was all fading. I was switching back and forth between Japanese and English so fast that I know I started sentences in English and finished in Japanese. Lol.

When I reached the end of the presentation, I asked about questions. No one had any and I was just about to hand back over to Ooyama-san when Dean put his hand up and asked me about sports. And then the dam burst. Tons of questions from every which way. Education is free? What are taxes like? How’s the weather? (They love that it doesn’t snow!)What’s the South American influence? Etc. When they ran out of steam, I handed back over to Ooyama-san and they pushed the tables together and bruk out the food.

That’s when I pop out the Mauby, Guava Cheese and Mount Gay (local drink, local sweet and local-and world's oldest- rum) from my country. When I open the Mount Gay, one man insist I pour it in his tea, and then all of them did drinking Mount Gay and tea. They loved the mauby, which is odd. Mauby is very bitter and usually, people who didn't grow up with it don't like it. The Guava Cheese went well, it's a sweet mave from the Guava Fruit. I had to constantly explain that there is no cheese in it.

A lot of people came up and introduced themselves and asked about Barbados. I was a very happy camper.

After everybody cleared out at around 6 (from the 3 o’ clock presentation, yuh) I walked with Dean through the station. We ran into 2 other JETs at the station. Turns out they were staying at the same hotel, which is great b/c I wasn’t sure which hotel it was. There are two of the same brand hotel right in front the station. Moomoos! Then another foreigner joined us, pulled out his Bamboo flute and started playing. The bamboo flute is the instrument you may hear a lot in anime and not be able to identify. It’s before the theme song of Naruto on the Japanese version. I love how it sounds. I was about to think about picking it up when he mentioned it costs about a month of my salary. Thought lost!

Then we wandered into the hotel and checked in. I discovered my room had internet and started facebooking (sigh). For some reason the receptionist had given me a translation of instructions to get the internet to work. All I did was plug in the LAN, and it worked.

The 5 of us who were staying at that hotel met some others for dinner. The restaurant we wanted to go to (Monkey’s kitchen) was full, so they sent us to this other izakaya (Japanese restaurant and bar) about a minute’s walk away. They were pretty much full too. We split the 15 member group in 2, 10 left, 5 stayed. We got a table and had some delicious food, and I discovered a wonderful new drink, Hi no Tori, Firebird! Yum. After we were done, our waiter, who speaks wonderful English, informed us we were the first foreigners the restaurant had, since it was only 3 days old, so they made us special desert for free! I love Japan! I asked him why his English was so good. He said he didn’t pay any attention in school, but when he was 24, he did a backpacking trip from North to South America! I asked him if he spoke Spanish, he counted to 10. Lol. I really enjoyed the restaurant, especially since of the 4 people there, I had only known one before. One was from Singapore. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone from Singapore. (People must say that about me all the time. Lol) She pointed out that it was after midnight, so we paid and headed out to the club.

Faces/Colours is run by an expatriate Black American. I thought when I arrived in Morioka that the event I was going to (with trance and house music) would be the only one in the club. I was wrong. Our event was held in Colours, a smaller room, and the main event, A REGGAE FETE, was held in Faces. And you can walk freely between the two! I went and got me a drink. You get two free drinks with admission. I start off with a Tequila sunrise.

A Japanese girl come up to me and tell me, in English, that I am sooooo cool. Lol. That’s what happens when you’re the only Black female in the prefecture and you attend a reggae fete. Speaking of which 3 Black fellows turn up I never see before. One is on JET, so I introduced myself. The others might as well be unicorns, such mystical I am always amazed to see Black people in Iwate. But I am ashamed to walk up and go, “Hey look we're the same shade. Let’s be friends.”
At this point, and Peach fizz #2, having been given extra drink tickets, Banty Boot land. Now Banty Boot was the DJ of the night. The man pull out this long bunch of Jamaican slang with more bombas, and blood-, and everything. It would have been pretty disgusting if it wasn’t so amusing to hear from a Japanese mouth. He was playing familiar songs by familiar artists and before I knew it, my reggae-deprived muscles were reacting on their own. I swear!

The same drunk man that keep knocking me end up pun stage and get promptly put off by the biggest Japanese I ever see in real life. The big Japanese then managed to find me (I’m only the only Black girl in here- I don’t stick out at all) and ask me how the show was in Japanese of course. I told him I was having fun. He nodded as if that was a stamp of approval and went back to Banty Boot. The DJ change to a group called Aresenal. They wish Attsu, who I don’t know, a happy birthday, since is he bday bash and all, and sing the Jp version of the song, Happy Bass-day to you.

I wondered back in Colours, where the Bartender from Faces mysteriously appear and give me a Tequila Sunrise. I could barely drink it.I was so sleepy. Wait! It's 3 o clock. Hotel! I sad goodbye to everybody, Went and find the owner and let him know I was leaving. He told me to hurry up and come back, that I don't come to Morioka often enough. He is too right.

I finished the sunrise and left. Found a man outside the exit selling “shishkebab”, which turned out to be meat inside a Pita bread. Poor thing. I inhaled that in couple bites, and completely unphased, went to McDonald’s. Had a teriyaki burger. Hotel. Finally. After 4. Put on my Christian playlist on yahoo! Music, pull the shade- too much blinking light in the city- and went straight to sleep.

What a fantastic Valentine’s Day!
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