Archive for July, 2015
Today was supposed to be a big double birthday party combined with watching fireworks at Numazu summer festival, however almost everybody ended up cancelling at the last minute. We ended up taking a small group to an izakaya called Uotami across from Numazu station.
The usual izakaya of choice for English teachers is Ryuu, which offers cheap beer and sushi in a no frills, tatami mat and low table environment. Uotami is a big step up on decor: upon entering you walk over a glass floor positioned above a zen rock garden. The tables are all sunken in the floor, and the booths offer a lot more privacy. The food menu is also much larger, in line with other big chains like Watami.
One of the other teachers and I noticed that the menu featured basashi, which is slices of raw horse meat (yes, horse!) served like sashimi. I had never eaten horse in any form before, so I was interested in trying. We decided to order it and not tell anyone else.
When the food arrived, we got a plate with thin slices of red meat, looking similar to some types of tuna. People started asking what kind of fish it was, and I told them to try it and let me know what they thought. We all dove in with our chopsticks.
In my opinion, raw meat isn’t nearly as good as raw fish. The meat was slightly stringy and slimy, and didn’t have the same nice flavour that raw fish does. After almost everybody had tried some, I made the big reveal that we had just eaten horse. One of the teachers thought we were joking, and another was actually pretty upset. Most of us had a pretty good laugh about it.
There are a few important lessons here:
- Don’t trick people into eating things, even if it’s funny. (well, unless it’s really really funny and you know the person well)
- Just because you enjoy raw fish doesn’t mean you will enjoy raw meat
- Some people are really upset about the idea of eating horse.
July 30 was the first day of Numazu festival and was Dom’s birthday as well. After work I met up with The Penpal and we went to watch fireworks with about 100,000 other people. People filled the streets and one of the major bridges over the Kano river. It was hot and crowded, but the show was amazing!
During the summer festival, the streets are lined with small food and souvenir stands. Many of the stands are run by yakuza. I am not sure why exactly the yakuza run the food stands, but I can only assume it’s a public relations stunt like when the Hell’s Angels raise money for charity. It is a unique experience buying yakisoba or ice cream from a gangster with his insane tattoos peeking out from his yukata.
After the fireworks show, the Penpal had to go home, and I stayed out to party with the other English teachers.
I would have taken pictures, but at some point I dropped my camera on the concrete and it no longer works.
Happy birthday to me! I celebrated my 27th birthday with The Penpal and her family. They took me out for dinner and we all ordered unadon, which is grilled eel on rice. It is a popular summer food, as Japanese people believe that eel gives you energy when it’s hot outside. It was nice to have a family birthday, even if it wasn’t my family.
I also got calls from Canada, with my mom’s annual reminder that I was 19 days overdue. I don’t think she will ever let me forget it!
I got the day off to repay working a shift swap. Laziness ensued.
Yesterday I got all excited about discovering Guitar Wolf, a louder Japanese version of the Ramones. Today I found out that Bass Wolf died in March this year. No fair! Whenever I learn about a cool new band, they are usually already broken up or one of the key members has died.
The good news is that their greatest hits CD is in stores today, available in a special black leather case.
Today’s weather forecast was filled with news of a giant typhoon that was heading towards Numazu. Since I live on the coast, I decided to be responsible and stay home on my day off. However, the typhoon ended up changing directions and bypassed the area completely.
Fortunately, my day was not a complete waste. I spent some time online and learned about possibly the greatest band EVER: Guitar Wolf.
Imagine the Ramones if they were Japanese and way louder. The singer / guitar player is known as Guitar Wolf, the bass player is Bass Wolf, and in case you haven’t already guessed, the drummer is Drum Wolf. They are famous for playing incredibly loud, and their CDs are recorded the same way.
ROCK AND ROLLLL!!
After last night’s celebration of surviving 11 days in a row, it was no surprise that I was very hungover today. I didn’t do much during the day. By evening I was feeling like a human again, and got to spend a few hours with The Penpal.
This is my 8th day of work in a row after returning from my vacation. Somehow I haven’t gone crazy (yet).
Before work, I went for another nice long bike ride. It’s great to get out and get around the city, however if I am not careful, I may actually end up in good shape.
I worked at Numazu school today, and actually had a lot of fun teaching for the first time in a long time. Being able to have fun at work is a wonderful thing. The students must have appreciated it as well; at the end of the day one of the Japanese staff told me that I had received compliments from several students.
Usually when students go out of their way to compliment or complain about a teacher, the staff add it to the teacher’s official employment file. However, as I am not yet officially a teacher at Numazu (just on loan from Mishima today), I was told that the comments would not be recorded in my file. I can only hope that complaints away from a teacher’s home branch are treated the same way.