With the other English teachers at school, there are dinners out. With my downstairs neighbors (also fellow English teachers), there are many walks. There are SO MANY BICYCLES in Sakiio that my heart stops every few seconds – they are a menace as they constantly zip through the sidewalk they for some moronic reason share with the pedestrians.

To my great delight, there are lots of laughs. No one could have been more surprised than myself to find that I got along so well – and so quickly – with my fellow coworkers. I have fawningly said this to them over too many bottles of beer; I absolutely did not expect to be laughing so much so soon after I moved across the globe.

With my neighbors Bob and Sean, there are evening teas downstairs. There are day trips to Kobe to do a sake brewery crawl and discoveries of new types of sweet rice alcohol (wooot!!).

There are then home sake brewing experiments (a delicious success!).

There are many flubs when trying to speak Japanese (though my Japanese book taught me to say “oba” for “overcoat” it didn’t tell me where to put the proper emphasis on the word so when i tried to shop for a coat at a department store i was apparently asking the salesladies “Where can I find a grandmother?”)

There are loads of Japanese women who look like fembots with their teased barbarella hair, kewpie doll makeup and thigh high boots.

There are 140 yen beers. There are many trips to the 100 yen store. There are endless arguments from my fellow teachers about where to go for dinner or lunch. There are many dinners at izakayas and much polite ordering of “nama biru”!

There is the breaking down of my cultural training – the other night at an izakaya in Kobe, many various things on skewers were ordered for the table. The Japanese girl we were with pointed at her gut when asked what they were: “inside!” she said.

Sean the Irishman shrugged. “Smashing!” he said and had at the fat, skin and organ yakitori. I eyed a stick of suspicious-looking red blobs warily but had to admit that it did smell pretty good. My dining companions chewed peacefully and I decided to stop being an American weenie and went for the … I don’t even know what (my best guess is chicken hearts). To my surprise, they were actually pretty delicious …

Next came the round chicken livers. Then, the other unidentified blobs. “Inside” was all our Japanese dining companion would say.

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