(Been going through a Bjork phase ♥)
Today marks the end of my 4th week in Japan. This month has gone by very quickly, especially when I think about the fact that my contract is only 1 year long, so it’s really easy to see why so many JETs stay in Aomori for at least another year. This time two years ago I was just starting my second year of university… so that does feel like a long time ago. I miss my lovely friends and family every day but the brilliance of technology means we can talk whenever we want. Unfortunately I still have no one to cuddle/abuse/lie all over on the sofa while I’m watching TV… Martha get over here.
So this week we had an orientation in Aomori City from Wednesday to Friday. I gladly welcomed a few days away from the countryside and spend the few days hanging out with the wonderful Aomori ALTs and getting more information about living and working here. On Wednesday the organisers had arranged a nomihoudai (all you can drink!) at a rooftop beer garden.
We paid about 20 quid to drink as much as we liked within two hours, which I seemed to manage with great success. It got to a point where I decided it would be fun to get an arm-wrestling tournament going, and there were a few unexpected wins! Afterwards we went to a nice little square of bars and took the opportunity to chat to some locals who taught me Tsugaru-ben, the regional dialect that probably sounds like the Japanese equivalent of a very broad Yorkshire accent.
On Thursday morning I went down for breakfast in the hotel feeling a bit delicate, so when I saw the traditional Japanese breakfast buffet consisting of things like soup, spaghetti, pickled vegetables, meatballs, fish and rice, I decided I probably wasn’t ready for it that morning and played it safe with a delicious bowl of cereal. I tried the buffet on Friday though and it was actually quite nice! Like Japanese brinner…?
For lunch on Friday a group of us went to a restaurant which looked very traditional, and we had a big room to ourselves where we sat on cushions on the floor. It was hard wearing business attire and trying to find a comfortable sitting position! We only had an hour for lunch however, and the food didn’t arrive until 10 minutes before we were supposed to be back… it was amazing and totally worth the wait though. I can’t believe how cheap the food is here… this was the set meal of the day – some kind of charred mackerel, rice, miso soup, fried shrimp, pickled vegetables and seared tuna. In England this would probably have been about £15 maybe? Here it was 700 yen – £4!! Best lunch ever… even if we had to sneak back into orientation 15 minutes late. I don’t believe anyone who says food in Japan is expensive anymore!
I was sad to leave everyone on Friday but we were not parted for long! It was an older JET’s birthday yesterday so a group of us from the Tsugaru side went out in Hirosaki to a club called Lavish. It was tiny inside which just made it more fun and at various points during the night there was a row of Japanese guys standing on the raised bit, staring at the group of foreigners tearing up the dance floor. We were frequently approached by the bouncier ones for mini dance-battles.
It was such a fun night, made even better this morning by watching Aladdin and eating an AMAZING breakfast of French toast and scrambled eggs by the lovely Kyle and Tori. This week was probably the most socialisation I’ll get for a while!! Starting calligraphy class tomorrow so maybe I’ll find a nice old lady to make friends with.