August 24, 2006 – Swords, sandals, and suckitude

After a long day of teaching English, this evening’s activity was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. I don’t think I need to mention that we also drank beer – it’s pretty much impossible (and not at all recommended) to watch MST3K without some kind of cushioning for your brain.

Tonight’s bad, bad movie was Hercules from 1958. It was a low budget Italian movie that somehow was popular enough at the time to start the “sword and sandal” genre. The movie industry must have been pretty awful in 1958 for this bomb to become popular. Even the MST3K crew couldn’t save this stinker.

Perhaps we needed more beer.

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August 21, 2006 – Working overtime

A few days ago, my area manager came to my branch and asked very nicely for me and another teacher to work overtime today.

When I first started at NOVA, there were overtime shifts available regularly, especially in the bigger cities. In the past year, overtime has become rare in an effort to cut costs, resulting in cancelled lessons for students. I was asked to pick up an extra shift because there were only 2 teachers available, which wouldn’t cover the schedule at all.

I don’t like giving up my days off, but I do like making some extra money. Not only that, but my OT shift was an early shift which made for an easy day of teaching English. After work I got some food and played Mario Party with The Penpal. Best overtime day ever!

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August 20, 2006 – Like part of the family

Recently the Penpal’s family bought a new house, just down the street from the house where they have lived for over 20 years. Today I went over to help with their move.

Some of the Penpal’s relatives were helping as well. I got to meet an aunt, uncle, and cousin that I hadn’t met before. They had spent a few years living in the United States, so they could speak a bit of English. They also told the Penpal’s parents about how nice Canada was. The parents have been worried about their only daughter moving away to a strange, frozen country, so it was nice to have some extended family who could put in a word on our behalf.

I helped move boxes, trimming the giant hedge in front of the house, and then while The Penpal and her mother cooked dinner I spent about an hour chatting with her father. Somehow we managed to keep the conversation going the whole time. The whole day felt like I was becoming part of the family.

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August 15 – 19, 2006 – I’m becoming boring

It’s finally happened – after living in Japan for almost 3 years and having tons of adventures, I have finally become boring.

For anyone arguing that I have been boring for a while, the joke’s on you: you’re reading this blog!

The only thing notable from August 15 – 19 was a lack of kids classes. Other than that I go to work, eat, sleep, and play video games, just like I would anywhere else. I didn’t even have any crazy beer fueled karaoke adventures!

My adventure away from Canada has become ordinary. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a thing.

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August 14, 2006 – Shopping in Tokyo

Today I went to Tokyo to do some shopping. From Numazu to Tokyo station it’s only about an hour on the shinkansen, or about 2 hours on the Tokaido line.

My first stop was the wonderful Blue Parrot book store near Takadanobaba station, home to used English books, movies, and CDs. I really should have done this last because I ended up carrying heavy books around for the rest of my day.

My next stop was Ginza to look for a long overdue sympathy card for a friend of the family who had passed away recently. Sympathy cards are very different in Japan – I hadn’t had any luck shopping in Numazu. I had heard good things about Ito-Ya, the 100 year old Stationary store in Ginza. It’s located between Tiffany and Co and Bulgari, both stores that I can’t afford to window shop in. Ito-Ya’s selection was HUGE – I never thought I would be entertained looking around a stationary store. After some searching I found something that would work as a sympathy card in Canada.

My final stop was Akihabara, which is always a fun place to explore when you have free time. I was trying to find stores that sold English language video games. It’s very easy to find places to buy games in Japan, but there are only a few places that import English language versions of games. Finding these is not easy, but it’s still easier than learning enough Japanese to play RPGs.

I’m lucky that I live only a few hours away from one of the worlds biggest and most exciting cities. Not everyone can just hop on a train for a shopping trip to Tokyo!

 

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August 12, 2006 – Fishmarket Tap Room

After work I took a rare taxi ride to the Numazu port area to check out a bar called “Tap Room”. It is a small brew pub with a great view of the port. The house beer was fantastic, and they had a huge selection of (slightly expensive) snacks to go with it.

One of Koalako’s friends was the live music for the night, singing English songs while playing acoustic guitar. We also got a free performance from another one of Koalako’s friends Shinya, who specializes in close magic. It was entertaining to watch him perform the same tricks twice, first in English and then in Japanese for the crowd at our table.

Like most nights out, we all ended up at karaoke later on, ruining some songs over nomi-hodai.

(2017 Update) The correct name of the place I went is Baird Taproom Numazu Fishmarket. The brewery is a local success story – the American owner and his Japanese wife moved to Numazu and opened a tiny brewpub. Supported by family, they slowly grew and now have 6 tap rooms and export overseas. Read more here┬áthen go and enjoy a delicious beer!

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August 9, 2006 – Final Fantasy 3 (or 6)

The Penpal came over after work tonight for an evening of video games. We are still working our way through Final Fantasy 3, which is known as Final Fantasy 6 in Japan. I still don’t understand why some games in a popular series are never officially released in North America.

I have good memories of this game – I got it for Christmas in 1995 and spent my entire Christmas holiday grinding my way through the game.

The Penpal didn’t have a game system growing up, so she had to get her Nintendo fix at friends’ houses. I’m helping her make up for lost time. I can’t think of too many better ways to spend an evening!

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