Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Saturday, December 10, 2011


So somehow this week I managed to find myself invited to four different enkais in a row. On Wednesday, we had my volleyball social...

On Thursday, it was my adult class's Christmas party...

On Friday, it was time to get together with my Japanese friends for our monthly party...

And today, Saturday, I went to Megu's house for a takoyaki/okonomyiaki party!

Understandably, then, after the past four days I'm EXHAUSTED. Awkwardly, after my adult class's party on Thursday, Friday was the second time I found myself being woken up by my boss (shouting through my letterbox) and driving me to work. Whoops. I should probably save such behaviour until after they've given me the green-light when it comes to recontracting! 

Nevertheless, today was arguably one of the best days I've had since arriving in Japan back in August. It's so nice to have found a group of people I can call "friends" not just in the sense of "people to hang out with", but genuine friends in the same way I'd refer to my friends back home. Sure, I can't communicate with them with anything resembling the same level of precision that I can with my English friends, but even though our words may not be able to bring us together, our experiences can, and for that I'm really grateful. Me, Megu and Shogo are, in particular, starting to become something of a three-person clique. Using Megu's own words from a text she sent me: "we are the trio like a three way traffic signal, aren't we?" Amazing.

So, just a handful of hours after saying goodbye on Friday evening, on Saturday morning we all gathered at Megu's house for a okonomiyaki/takoyaki party! Huddled around Megu's kotatsu to fend off the palpable cold, we cooked up a bevvy of Japanese specialties. First, we made our own okonomyaki... which, if you remember, is the Japanese savoury pancake I mentioned a few posts ago. Once we'd devoured a good few of those, we cooked up some takoyaki too - renowned as Osaka's traditional dish, takoyaki consists of fried octopus balls, mixed with a selection of ingredients - in our case, kimchi, salad and cheese!

Our homemade takoyaki (octopus balls).

Takoyaki - work in progress.

The girls take it in turns to flip the okonomiyaki with varying degrees of success. 

We've got a running joke that Megu's stomach is a "black hole" - the girl can literally eat anything you put in front of her and still have room for more. Lucky really, considering the sheer volume of food we managed to cook up.

Having cleaned our plates and given up any hope of moving for a good few hours, we curled up in front of the TV, whilst I helped Megu to practice her English (and my Japanese) by translating the lyrics to (amongst other songs) Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory". A few weeks ago, I'd made her some CDs of my favourite English music and, after listening to them, she'd picked out "Edge of Glory" as the one she most wanted to sing together at karaoke. So, in typical adorable Japanese style, she's been making flashcards of the lyrics so that she can better remember them. Internationalisation or what?

And, as if we hadn't already packed enough into the day, when the evening rolled around, we jumped in Shinko's car and headed off to Kochi for a dinner of yakiniku (fried meat) with one of my first grade students and his mum.

Adorable doesn't even come close.

The traffic signal in all its glory.

Nor, in fact, does perfect. After a blissfully hectic week, I'm at last off to bed to have my first sleep without an alarm to wake me since God-knows-when. It's that kind of accomplished feeling of tiredness. Accomplished because I know that, having started from nothing, I've managed to cement myself a group of real Japanese friends, and because, after four months here, I can at last say that I'm feeling truly settled. Long may it last.

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Anonymous Abby said...

Reading this made me very happy, hot stuff. Sorry I missed you on Skype, love the photos, and glad you're having a true-friends ball. X

December 12, 2011 at 5:31 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

looks like so much fun! i cant wait to come down and meet them all some weekend soon! :)

December 12, 2011 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger stranger-in-seoul said...

You bet! They won't be able to get enough of you and your golden hair and Canadian enthusiasm! Just been reading your blog - sounds like you had a killer weekend in Imabari yourself!! xxx

December 12, 2011 at 11:33 AM  

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