Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 43

Last Tuesday I started my day early with yet another Kindergarden lesson. As usual the Kindergarten was out in the middle of nowhere so it took me a while to get back into town even after my lesson was finished. When I did arrive back in civilization I headed over to the high-school I teach at where on of the teachers very kindly offered to help adjust the size of my Halloween costume. I ordered the largest Luigi (from Mario Brothers) costume I could find on Amazon only to have it arrive and be too short. This kicked off a multi-week mission to find someone with a sewing machine so I didn't have to do all the alteration by hand. Costume all sorted out I ran home, changed out of my work clothes and rode my bike down South to play games with my friends again. We took a break from playing at some point and went out to a nice izakaya (Japanese pub) for dinner. We played well into the night and I ended up riding home well after midnight.

Wednesday saw rain all day, torrential at times. Mid-day I ventured out to Nipponbashi to do some shopping and had lunch at Osho (a Japanese version of a Chinese restaurant.) I watched TV and relaxed through the afternoon. In the evening some friends came over yet again for Wednesday nigh Magic: the Gathering.

After sleeping in a bit Thursday morning I played some more Magic with a friend who recently moved back to the States ove Skype. Work, in the afternoon, went normally. I met my friend's wife (who just moven into the neighborhood) in the grocery store on the way home, which was nice. I then came home and crashed in front of the TV in the evening.

Friday morning's high-school shift was remarkably work-free as none o my regular students came to class. This left me with a lot of time to play games with the other students in the lobby. I stopped by Nipponbashi again on the way home and ran into a staff member from one of the schools I used to work at who remembered my face. I couldn't be bothered to make dinner so I got Dominoes pizza for dinner.

Saturday's shift was another normal one. No news is good news in this line of work as unless something really horrible happens it's a pretty relaxed job. I started to feel a sore throat coming on in the evening so I laid low at home again.

Sunday's "web" shift was a bit rough with 12 out of 12 lessons being booked and everyone showing up on time. In addition my throat was scratchy all day. It didn't hurt, per say, but was kind of annoying. After stopping at my favorite curry shop for dinner on the way home I took it east in the evening yet again.

Monday this week I had my forst Kindergarten Halloween lesson. The kids loved my Luigi costume and it was instantly recognizable. Between shifts I came home, had lunch, and did some laundry. The evening shift was blessedly easy with quite a few breaks in my schedule.

Yesterday (Tuesday the 23rd) I played video games at home all day. After the constant rain on the morning let up I  finished my laundry in the afternoon. I somehow managed to not leave the house until 10pm when a friend invited my down to the local watering hole to have drinks with a few people.

Despite my best efforts all week to rest up it seems that I've woken up this morning with "common cold" symptoms. I figure it's got a lot to do with the changing of the season as the day-time highs here have dropped 10degC in the last week. Looks like I'll be spending one more day resting up at home. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow as I've got a Halloween party to attend in the morning at a teacher-friend's-friend's high school.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 42

Last Monday afternoon I went out to the Akinai Festival which was held near Osaka castle. As advertised there were festival foods from all over Japan. Most of the selection was 'meat on a stick', fried foods, or seafood. The highlight for me was onion-flavored ice-cream from Awaji island. It really tasted like eating onions which was both awful and amazing. There were also musical performances on a stage at one end of the park. Dancers of all ages did both traditional and modern dances. There was also a parade of mascots characters from all the places represented. The weather was partly sunny and just on the edge of hot which made sitting in the shade feel wonderful.

Tuesday I met up with the set of friends I've been playing video games with the last few weeks and we churned out another few hours of play time.

Wednesday morning I changed over my summer and winter wardrobe. Some contractors were changing out a pump in my building which meant no water from 9-5 so I decided to spend the day out on the town. I started by tracking down the items needed to adjust my halloween costume to fit me. I then stopped at my favorite burrito place for lunch. Later, killed some time singing karaoke before stopping at the home-center to get some household cleaning supplies. In the evening, after my water was back on I did some fall cleaning and mucked out my bathroom.

Thursday was yet another surprisingly light day at work. Not that I'm one to complain about not having to work hard.

Friday's high-school shift was a little odd in that none of my regular students showed up so I ended up sitting in the lobby and playing games with other students all day.

Saturday was busy as usual durning the day. In the evening I joined some friends as they played pachinko for the first time. For those not familiar: pachinko is an "entertainment" because gambling is illegal in Japan. You basically play pinball and when you score it activates a slot-machine wheel which gives the chance to win more pin-balls. Those more skilled than I can make the machine pay our more balls which can be exchanged for vouchers... which can be taken around to another "shop" in back of the pachinko parlor and traded for money... which basically makes it a form of gambling. Also, pachinko parlors are generally offensive to the senses; they're smoky, overly-lit, and the machines make a cacophony of sound which makes normal conversation impossible. I like to go about one a year and drop 1,000 yen just to remind me why I don't go more often.

Sunday after work I hustled home, changed, and headed down to Nagai (in the South part of Osaka) for a friend's birthday party. Around 12 people came out for Yaki-niku (Korean barbecue.) The restaurant did all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink for 2 hours at about $40 a head. I'm not sure they made and profit odd of our table as 4 Americans, 3 Australians, 2 Canadians, 1 Korean, and 2 Japanese people can eat a lot of meet and drink a lot of beer. Also, we're not sure why, but the restaurant gave us an extra hour for free, which was nice of them. The party went on uptown after dinner but I chose to come home and crash as I've got work to do at home before going into work this afternoon.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week 41

Last Tuesday I had a blast playing video games at a friend's house. One of the highlights of the day being some fur-therapy with my friend's Shiba dog (classic Japanese dog breed.) In the evening a small number of friends and I met up at our old, tiny, watering hole for drinks. The night almost ended in tears as a friendly game of Uno turned sour when no one could remember what the exact rules were and battles over house rules flared. All in all a good time was had by all, however.

As planned, I did get out for a bike ride on Wednesday though my destination was the Hard Rock Cafe where I'm pretty sure the potato skins I had with lunch counter-balanced any exercise I did all day. In the evening some friends came over for what we're now calling Wednesday-night Magic (:the Gathering.)

The work week wasn't really worth writing home about. I went to work, came home, made dinner, watched TV, and went to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. No big events this week.

Today, on the other hand, is "Health and Sports Day" or a "Happy Monday" or "Yet Another Day Off". For some odd reason I'm up at 7am writing this and will probably go back to bed when I'm done. Later in the day I'm going to meet some friends at the "Akinai Festival", uptown. The Akinai Festival is where street food vendors from all over Japan come to Osaka and set up shop for one weekend. It's like the Japanese version of Detroit's "Arts, Beats, and Eats." At least that's how it's been explained to me... should be fun to find out.