Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just when you think that ALL Japanese people are jerks because ONE Japanese person stole my bike (probably a Japanese person) suddenly you turn around and change your mind because ONE Japanese person did something nice. Now, you know that truly, ALL Japanese people are wonderful ;)

How's that for a generalization.

Which brings me to a list I have started compiling in my head since Sunday last week.

First, the short list. All the crap that I think makes the Japanese mean:
1. Some jerk stole my bike. Which isn't uncommon to hear of.
2. Umbrellas get stolen quite often as well.
3. Bratty students who do crap in class and get away with it.
4. Recycle-Nazis who refuse to take your trash when you make a mistake sorting it all out
5. paperwork

Now, the longer list. Things that makes the Japanese seem insanely nice:
1. School bikes, free to use for a short time
2. Company umbrellas, free to use for a short time
3. Inside slippers, placed at the door with me in mind
4. Good students who, no matter how bratty, will never talk back to me or really do anything VERY wrong (as far as I can see)
5. Customer service...

Good lord I could go on for days about how amazing customer service is here in Japan.

Let's see, let's see, here are some good examples:

Hair cut: I asked my hair dresser if I should make an appointment before coming in. She said that I could just walk in and I'd be fine. But the other day, I drove all the way there and she had just left on her break. When I told them I didn't have time to wait (I'll be attempting again...2 weeks later!) they gave me a $10 off coupon for the next time.

Convenience store: I would never THINK to get something to eat from a convenience store back in America unless it was a drink or otherwise prepackaged and even then it's a long shot. But convenience stores here in Japan are probably the cleanest places you can be. The toilets are always spotless and smelling fresh. The food for sale is fresh and always at its best. Some people been known to live on the stuff

Mistakes: Not too long ago I went shopping for some new winter clothes and I accidentally bought two red shirts when I only meant to get one. I came back the next day trying to think about how to word what I wanted to say. The woman not only remembered me, but completely understood the problem and apologized for not realizing the mistake when I was checking out the day before. When I told her it was my fault for having put them in the basket in the first place, she said " no no, it was all my fault, I should have noticed sooner!" I guess it's kind of annoying because she really wasn't at fault but it was so nice of her to treat me that way!

Bar service: I went to a Korean restaurant with some friends of mine the other day. My one friend said he only drank Guinness but I saw that it wasn't on the menu. I decided to ask the waiter anyway but just as I expected, he said there was none. (it's not a common drink in Japan anyway) So the guy took our orders without writing anything down! And about 10 minutes later he came by and said that he had managed to find 2 bottles of Guinness, just for my friend. That dude must have gone down the street and somehow tracked down a couple bottles of Guinness and no extra charge!!! And we couldn't even tip the guy for doing something like that!!! Those are the times you want to tip someone more than the actual price of the food; he went so far above and beyond what was required. It was amazing.

I'm going to really miss stuff like this!

The bike a student gave me after hearing me bitch about my stolen one. I made her chocolate pudding as a thank you gift.

He had a good reason

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It was two years ago to the day. When a Japanese man, let us call him Taro, made a mistake. A mistake that would cost him his life.

Taro was of average intelligence. Barely a man but still a boy in many ways, he had just entered university. His major: The Science of Concrete. He was what most women would call "cute like a retarded puppy". Though always falling short of the mark, he forever tried his best and had somehow managed to save enough money to rent an apartment and pay for classes. He worked as a bagger at the local Value Super Market.

His mistake was to fall in love with a woman. A woman!.... of ill repute.

This woman, we shall call her Reiko, was a woman of very little virtue. She was beautiful beyond limit and used her beauty for personal and immoral gain. Unfortunately, her limitless beauty lead her down roads well traveled, resulting in a massive debt to the local Yakuza. Not just any Yakuza either! Oh no. The debt was to THE Yakuza boss...and it was personal.

Reiko was frightened and drowning in a torrential sea of worry when she first met Taro. She was fruitlessly struggling to pay back her massive debt by working in various bars, when she looked across the room and saw Taro. It was truly love at first sight. Their eyes met and fireworks burst above their heads.

Despite Reiko's baggage and Taro's many short comings, from that day forth, they were inseparable.

Over the next two years, Taro and Reiko's love grew stronger and stronger every day. They moved in together and created a cramped by welcoming home. Taro quite school and began working full time to help Reiko pay off her debt. Unfortunately, Yakuza debt, like quicksand, can have you sinking to your neck before you realize that you're most likely in over your head.

Still, Taro and Reiko kept their heads high despite their debt growing steadily larger and larger. As was mentioned previously, the debt was to THE Yakuza boss. And also as previously mentioned, it was personal. THE Yakuza boss would regularly check on the couple to collect his money. After the two years, he had become more and more demanding until finally he began to make death threats.

On one particular day in early winter, let's say November 16th, 2008, THE Yakuza boss condescended a visit upon Taro and Reiko. When Taro said that he would have the money in a day or so, an excuse he always gave, THE Yakuza boss, in a fit of rage, grabbed Reiko and held a gun to her head. In very colorful Japanese, he demanded his money in 30 minutes or Reiko would be tortured and killed as per Yakuza policy.

Taro, fearing for the future of Reiko and his happiness, bolted out the door to barrow money from his parents. Unfortunately, they lived across town and Taro was too poor to own a car or bike.

In utter frustration he spotted an old red bicycle with a basket in the front and a cute little black bell on the handle bars to warn pedestrians of it's approach. He could tell the brakes were most likely shot and the light no longer worked properly. He knew it to belong to the local foreigner whom he had seen happily riding it every so often. She always seemed to have a smile whenever she sat upon this red bicycle's seat.

Hurriedly, he borrowed the bike without permission and silently vowed to bring it back to it's rightful owner. He raced to his parents house where he found two Yakuza thugs waiting for him. In an instant, he was down on the ground, bleeding to death from three shots to the chest. What Taro had never known was that THE Yakuza boss was truly infatuated with Reiko and when he no longer cared to collect any more petty money from the unfortunate Taro, he had him killed. Poor Taro, he had been played with like a toy.

And no one ever knew of the borrowed red bicycle that belonged to the happy foreign girl. It was never returned and she never saw it again...


Which is how I'm sure it really happened because there is no other better excuse for some dickhead to steal my bike while it was parked safely at my own apartment.

The stolen bike

Now that I chose to stay...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holy cow Batman, KIMCHI NABE!!!! I love it (-^u^-)

I was rereading my January post about if I should stay in Japan a third year or go back home.

I decided to stay (obviously) so I've decided to address all the things in my original post that were up in the air.

1. Income - I have a pretty decent income here. I don't have to pay taxes. But in my third year I was told that I would have to start paying them but rumor had it that my school would give me a raise to help me out with that. Well, they didn't give me the raise. Instead, they just took the tax and paid it themselves. I see no change in any of the money that comes to me. SCORE

2. PA - I decided that I would apply to be a prefectural advisor. I was hoping it would give me a sense of purpose for being here in Japan since all my other reasons for being here seemed worthless. Well, I didn't get it. And now that I'm not a PA I can't be more thrilled. Something changed in August when a lot of my good friends left and suddenly I want nothing to do with anyone new. The last thing on my mind is helping others...seriously ;)

3. New Friends - which brings me to my next point. I said that all my good friends left in August and that I was hoping to meet new ones when the new crew came in right after them. Well, that didn't really happen. Instead, I'm now focusing on myself. I've never been more antisocial and loving it. I have no desire to meet anyone new. I have no desire to go to any more parties. I've become the most selfish person in the world. My time is my own and spending it on meeting new people is not how I want to enjoy it.

4. Japanese Study - I am having a hard time believing it but I actually wrote in my last post that I didn't see myself going back to school to study Japanese. Well, that is completely the opposite of what I plan to do now. I am now studying Japanese with a private tutor twice a week and loving it. I have plans to apply for a Japanese school in Sendai (way up in the cold cold north) and study for at least 6 months. I hope that by focusing on Japanese and devoting 0% of my time on English teaching, I'll learn as quickly as I had originally thought I would 2 years ago!

5. Teaching life - I was wrong about working my way up in this business. No, I haven't gotten a raise and my title is still "English Speaking Monkey" but now that I know what I'm doing, now that I understand how to work with the Japanese teachers even better than I did in January, I've really improved on...well, absolutely everything! My classes are more interesting and HEY! they're even more informative! I know that with most of my classes, those students leave knowing more English than when they left! HA! What a concept! Plus, I now have three classes under my control (more or less) and one of those classes was actually designed by me! I wrote the class! I am THE TEACHER! Which is an oddity all together! Granted, it's not the best class ever, but this is my first time ever writing a full years curriculum and I'm really impressed with myself (^u^)

6. So was it the right choice? - I can not be more emphatic when I say "yes". I am so glad I chose to stay. I'm doing better than ever. Life here has hit it's peak. It doesn't get much better than this :) Ok, maybe a little better. But as for Tosayamada, this is the best it's got and I'm loving it.

7. Will you stay a 4th year? - I think I'm 95% sure I will NOT stay a 4th year. I think I accomplished everything I set out for here and much more. I'm reaching my objectives and I see the end in sight. It's time to move on to the next goal.

Fall to Winter

Sunday, November 9, 2008

October is over! And November is here. For Halloween I was a cute purple kitty (cuz I couldn't be bothered spending money on anything) with my friend Steven (you may remember him from my Kyushu post) as Marimokkori and my friend Hisae as...a maid with cute pink cow ears. Yeah!

Anywho, it's that time of year again. When I change all my summer clothes with winter clothes. Put the fans away and pull out the heaters. Bring out the blankets and find a place inside for the plants to go lest they freeze to death.

This is only the third time in MY LIFE that I've done this sort of thing, but it seems to come naturally ;)

Anyway, I'm writing this post to procrastinate the whole thing. I actually REALLY want to go shopping for some winter clothes but I'd be wasting tons of money by doing that before I pull out what I've already got. Lord knows I don't need any more turtle necks :P

So let's see...what can I blog about...

Well, today I was actually supposed to be dancing in the final ever Kokadai Team Yosakoi dance. Many teams will continue dancing after the big summer festival just to give other people a nice show. Plus, we all put so much work into it! It'd be a shame not to dance again and again!

Unfortunately, it's been raining the past two days plus it's the middle of November which means it's cold. So they decided to cancel the dance and now I'm at home disappointed and with the lights turned on since it's so dark outside. (TnT) Oh well, beats getting a cold from dancing in freezing rain.

SO what else is there...I'm planning a trip to Thailand for the winter vacation. All in all, I'll be gone 20 days! Woo!!! And taking malaria pills just to be on the safe side. A lot of people say I don't need them but hey, taking the pills is WAY BETTER than getting it in the end.

Other than that, I'm pretty much throwing out the idea of not being busy this month. I just have too much stuff going on to NOT do anything. I'm got a party to celebrate Obama's winning. It's depressing not to be in America right now so this is the best we can do (Americans AND everyone else cuz let's face it, the entire world is thrilled that Obama won...I think...) After that I've got a trip to Tokyo for a friends birthday and then begins the end of the year parties that EVERYONE will be having. (both schools, English conversation students, friends, and any other group I happen to belong to)

PLUS I'm saving money for Uni that I will hopefully be attending in October. *crosses fingers*

And that's all for now, tune in later for more on the life of Nina.

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