Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Monday, September 26, 2011

15 (more) minutes of fame and a whole lot less hair.

All aboard the Anpanman Express!

So it's the weekend again, and that means another chance to get jubbly again! Tom was coming to visit for the weekend (this time armed with two friends: Andria, an ALT from California, and Hiro, a local Japanese guy he met in Hiroshima), and after the success of last week, we booked ourselves up at Erika’s guesthouse in advance. Making my way there by bus, I somehow managed to miss one of my connections... that being so,  and me being far too impatient to wait for the next one, I instead hopped on the Anpanman Express from Uwajima! For the uninitiated, Anpanman is a Japanese cartoon character who, being made out of bread, FEEDS HIS FACE to people in need. That's a story with a moral for sure. On board, the conductor's voice was replaced with Anpanman's. I didn't have a clue what he was saying, but I loved every minute of it. The track weaved through some absolutely stunning scenery: shooting through the mountains, I was overwhelmed to see kids waiting in their rice fields to wave at Anpanman as the train went past. Adorable.

Stepping off the cutest train ride of my life, I arrived in Matsuyama. There, we, by day, destroyed our wage packets shopping for clothes on Gintengai and Okkaido, and, by night, assaulted each other’s ear-drums with some late night karaoke. (The discovery that they have Disney songs was enough to send drunken me into a degrading, singing frenzy).

Somehow, waking up the next morning at Matsuyama Guesthouse, I found myself roped into helping Erika (employed as a chef) prepare a Mexican feast for a lunch party whilst a random journalist buzzed around taking photos and attempting to stage a confused English-Japanese interview with the chef herself. Still hanging from the night before, it wasn’t the ideal start to the day, but hey, I got a free lunch out of it!

Chef Erika serves up a Mexcian feast!

Shamelessly doing my best to get in on Erica's fame.

Then, on Saturday evening, it was time to hit karaoke AGAIN, this time with a new bunch of friends in Uwajima.

Uwajima, baby!

Tom having gone back to Hiroshima by this point, Erika decided to come along for the ride. And at karaoke it was she who was responsible for the performance of the night... resulting in the destruction of every single glass in the room. Not because her singing was so bad, but because, after a few too many chu-hais, maintaining balance wasn’t particularly high on her to-do list. Cue a horizontal table roll and a flurry of panicked Japanese faces as the karaoke stuff rush in to the sound of glass after glass smashing to the floor. Needless to say, we thought it best to make a quick getaway.

How somebody this sober managed to obliterate the room is beyond me.

In Uwajima, we stayed at my friend Sam's place... this is the view from her balcony. Awwwesome.

I also figured that, after almost two months in Japan, it was time to brave my first haircut. Realising the control I had over the outcome was going to be limited wherever I ventured, I just set off down the street near my house and plucked for the first hairdresser’s I came across. Well, I’ve never had such an indulgent haircut in my LIFE. For two-and-a-half-hours my hair was washed, cut, washed again, dried, cut again and styled... in my mind, the price counter was ticking away at a worrying rate, but when it came to pay, I was charged a modest 3,500 Yen. Deal. Admittedly the outcome was quite a bit shorter than I’d usually go for, but it wasn’t the out-and-out disaster I was anticipating. Arriving at school this morning, I’ve been greeted with some classic one-liners from my kids. One ran up to me and just said “Image change!”, another whipped out a “This hair is very nice” and one more asked “Haircut? Where-cut?” Hahahaha. Genius.

In the meantime, having accepted the inevitability that if I want an easy social life, I’m going to need a car, I’ve also been sorting out the paperwork to convert my English driving license to a Japanese one. In other news, it turns out there’s another Sports Festival going down in Ainan this weekend which I’m expected to be at – I’d been planning to go party with some other JETs in Niihama, but looks like I’m gonna have to stay local for the weekend. Not ideal, perhaps, but I soon got over it when I was fed the delicious news that there’s going to be another teachers’ enkai on Saturday night. Of my two so far, these have included passing out with my JTE in the middle of the room, getting groped by middle-aged Japanese mothers and watching my school’s manly sports teacher single-handedly out-gay me at karaoke. BRING. IT. ON.

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