Archive for category Friends and coworkers
Leaving day! I woke up early, ate breakfast, and then realized that despite a few weeks of packing, I still had more stuff to send home than suitcase space. I still had one moving box available, so I speed packed it and took it to the post office with The Penpal. We also stopped at Hard Off to sell any electronics I had left: my stereo, my computer, and my giant monitor that I had bought from Hard Off. Yes, they were going to get a chance to sell the same monitor twice!
I returned to the apartment for one last check of my room. The only remaining items were all big and bulky, including my well worn futons and my floor couch. Disposing of large items in Japan requires you to pay for a special pickup. I left some cash behind with my roommates to cover the costs, and then said by goodbyes.
In my entire time in Japan, I was lucky enough to have some really great roommates that I got along well with. I’m really going to miss Azeroth and Klaxman – they are both good guys. It was sad to leave my keys behind and walk out of Ooka City Plaza for the last time.
(2018 Update) It turns out that I gave my roommates way too much money for garbage disposal. They used the remaining funds to buy a Nintendo Wii.
As someone who has moved several times in both Canada and Japan, I have developed a rule of thumb about how long it packing will take.
- Take a look around and determine how much stuff needs to be packed
- Estimate how long packing might take, assuming breaks, interruptions, and time spent looking for tape and boxes
- Multiply your guess from the previous step by 5. Congratulations – it’s going to take longer than that.
In addition to packing and cleaning, I also got out of the house to run a few errands. First, I picked up a few souvenirs for anyone I hadn’t already gotten something for. Next, I went to a bank machine to transfer all of my remaining money back to Canada. Finally I went to Vodafone and cancelled my phone service. Giving up the phone service was hard – after 3 years of having my phone with me at all times, I felt completely naked without it.
Just before cancelling my phone, I had made arrangements with Christopher Cross to sell my Playstation 2 and all of the games. My Playstation got a lot of use both as a game system and a DVD player over the past few years. Time spent in front of my PS2 meant less time and money spent at izakayas. This allowed me to pay off some student loans, and probably saved some additional damage to my liver. My PS2 was one of the best investments I made during my entire time in Japan!
Christopher and I took all of the gear to his apartment, then went out for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant. I had never eaten Indian before. Christopher was British, so he knew his way around the menu and made sure that everything we ordered was delicious. This would be the last dinner I ate in Japan, and it was a good one.
I eventually found my way home and finished up a bit more packing. I can’t believe I’m leaving tomorrow!!
Tonight was my “unofficial” farewell party. For those who haven’t been following the blog, when a teacher relocates to another part of Japan or moves home they often get two farewell parties: the “official” party which is attended by teachers and staff, and the “unofficial” party which is attended by teachers and students.
Azeroth took charge of organizing the party, inviting students from the two branches that I worked at in the area, Numazu and Mishima. The turnout was really impressive! We started off our evening at an izakaya and then ended up going to the second party at karaoke. The whole evening was a lot of fun, and I’m happy that I got one last chance to say goodbye and make everyone listen to my terrible singing.
After failing to make any progress on packing today, I gave up and decided to go hang out at Koalako’s apartment.
A few months ago, Koalako moved into an apartment with some NOVA teachers. If interacting with students outside of the classroom is not allowed, sharing an apartment must be ultra prohibited, although I’m not sure how much authority they have to tell teachers where they can and can’t live.
The apartment was nice and pretty spacious for a Japanese apartment. Everything looked pretty typical, except the toilet room (in Japan the toilet and bath are often in separate rooms). This is the one room where Koalako really got to express herself, making the entire room pink to annoy her roommates.
I hung out with Koalako and roommates, enjoying some food and beer. Our gathering managed to attract a few more teachers from the area. One of the new arrivals had just returned from Australia, so they brought over some wine. It was my first time to drink wine from Australia – it was dangerously delicious. They also brought one of Australia’s most famous (infamous) foods – Vegemite, which was dangerously NOT delicious. I seriously don’t know how people eat that stuff.
Another fun evening in Numazu – I’m really going to miss this when I move home!
I can’t believe there is only one week left before I leave Japan and move back to Canada! I decided that I should probably start doing some serious packing during the day.
Fighting procrastination as hard as I could, I actually made some progress during the day. It’s important to reward yourself for hard work, so I spent my evening enjoying a Trailer Park Boys marathon with Super Dave. Before we started, we walked to the nearby Don Quixote to stock up on beer, cheese, and salty snacks. Good times!
Tonight I made another important stop on my farewell tour – Gotenba Kogen Brewery with my roommates.
For those who haven’t been reading my blog, Gotenba Kogen Brewery is a brewery and buffet restaurant located at a resort on the side of Mt. Fuji. They offer a 90 minute all you can eat all you can drink experience for about $30. It’s pretty much one of the happiest places on earth!
To fully take advantage of the 90 minutes of feasting, you really need to plan in advance. Azeroth loves beer, so he spent most of his 90 minutes refilling his beer mug. Klaxman doesn’t drink, so he spent most of his 90 minutes refilling his plate. I managed to find a nice balance that left me both slightly drunk and wishing I had worn sweat pants. So good!
As part of my farewell tour, I went to Kawasaki today to meet up with my old housemate Kim. We went out for okonomiyaki in Noborito before meeting up with her fiancee Kame.
Kim was one of the most fun people I had met during my time at Hello House, so I wasn’t surprised to find out that Kame was a pretty cool guy as well. We all went to Yoyogi park to join up with a Hello House leaving party for someone who had moved in after my time there. Living in a dorm filled with English teachers means lots of people coming and going. You never really get to know everyone well, but you do get to attend a lot of farewell parties. Almost every farewell party I have attended in Japan was at an izakaya, so an outdoor party was a nice change of pace. I’m really going to miss the ability to drink legally in public when I return to Canada!
Eventually, like with every other party, we ended up at karaoke. I introduced Kame and Kim to Sad Cows Song which they instantly loved. We got back to their apartment late and I spent the night on the couch. It was a very fun day but the morning is going to hurt.
Now that I am done work and have a few weeks left in the country, I finally started my preparations for leaving.
During the day I started going through my room to decide what I would bring home to Canada and what would stay in Japan. I had brought quite a bit of stuff from Canada when I had moved to Japan, and over the past 3 years I had accumulated books, clothes, games, electronics, and other miscellaneous things. There was no way that everything would be leaving the country with me.
After some painful decisions, I followed the lead of many teachers before me and made a sign for my leaving sale to be hung up at the office. I also paid my city taxes and did some research on how much it would cost to ship boxes to Canada.
My reward for a productive day was an evening of pizza and video games with Azeroth. Good times!
The Penpal and I spent the day in Tokyo attending two very different cultural events: ikebana and live theatre.
In the morning we took the shinkansen to Shinagawa and then transferred to Meguro to see an ikebana show. Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging, something that neither the Penpal or I knew anything about. The invitation came from one of the Penpal’s friends, who was a student of Shogo Kariyazaki, one of Japan’s most famous flower arrangers.
We walked through a beautiful old building looking at the intricate displays of flowers and branches set up along the way. I didn’t really understand what we were looking at, but they looked nice. Near the exit there was a table set up where Mr. Kariyazaki himself was signing copies of his new book. He looked like someone right out of Rivendell in Middle Earth! Waiting to see him was a long line filled with middle aged women who were as excited as teenagers meeting a pop idol. It was a truly interesting look into a culture that was totally unfamiliar to both of us.
In the afternoon we went to see The Tokyo International Players perform Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit “And Then There were None”. The TIP is an English language amateur theatre group which was founded in 1896. We came to see my former coworker and Saturday night late shift companion Vivian in her Japanese stage debut as Ethel Rogers, the housekeeper and second victim. The performance was fantastic, and it was a great English challenge for The Penpal to interpret a variety of different British accents from the characters. We had a short visit with Vivian after the show – with only a few weeks left until I moved back to Canada this was my opportunity to say goodbye.
After our cultural day of ikebana and murder, we spent our evening wandering around Shibuya before returning home. It was a very fun day!
Today was my last day of work as an English teacher in Japan. It was both exciting and a bit sad.
When I put in my notice, the branch staff had specifically asked me not to tell students that I was leaving until near the end. They explained that I was one of the most popular teachers and were worried that my departure, combined with the teacher shortage, could lead to students not wanting to buy lesson packages.
One way or another the word had gotten out, and a few students gave me some presents during the day. One of my group kids students asked for a picture with me after my lesson. In addition, my coworkers got be a big bag of Toblerone chocolates, one of my favourite mid-shift treats. My departure will have a material effect on chocolate sales at the small store across from the branch.
I finished off the last two lessons of my shift as the only teacher in the building. At the end of my last lesson my students said some really nice farewells (in English no less), leaving me a bit emotional. After 3 years of teaching it felt strange to put away my files for the last time.
I am happy to be changing jobs, but I am really going to miss seeing my coworkers, staff, and students every day.