In the continuing saga of Jeremy not blogging because he's too busy out doing things, I've seen one of my good friends, Damien, off. He left last Thursday for Australia. I said goodbye to Ana tonight, though we'll see each other in Indy.
Damien, Julian, and I had the obligatory bowl of ramen from "The Ramen" restaurant (actually, it's 'Za Ramen' because Japanese can't pronounce 'th' sounds). Later, we proceeded to a really cheap 200 yen/beer happy hour and wobbled back to Ana's after to wait for her. In the meantime, we made these little Xmas ornaments/phone dangly straps. You just draw some sort of design on it and pop it in the toaster oven for a minute and it curls up and shrivels, looking about to burst into flame when suddenly it lays back down flat and has turned into a nice little ornament. Probably something 12 year-olds do (in fact I know they do it because my students love it), but also good for boozy 20-somethings with a fascination for arts and crafts.
After Damien left, I've been hanging out with Ana at every opportunity. One time we didn't was Friday when I went to a teachers' party with Julian and about 8 Japanese English teachers. We had an awesome 4 course dinner at an izakaya, then a few of us peeled off to sing karaoke. Turns out a few of them are regular drinking buddies, and typically go out with the math teacher from the school I'm currently at. I had no idea. So I proceeded to poke fun at him the past couple of days.
Saturday was nabe. For Xmas, I received a nabe pot from Ana & Damien. Nabe in Japanese means 'pot,' but the food is a stew of various vegetables and meat in this low, wide earthen pot. Nowadays, it's usually cooked in an electric pot-type thing. The fun part is doing it with all of your friends sitting around the table drinking and eating, with the nabe pot simmering in the middle. Even better was getting to use the kotatsu (table with a heating element under it and a skirt to keep the heat in) with it. Julian, Ana, Miwa and I had dinner in this style.
Sunday, Ana and I went to Kamakura. It's not a far train ride, and the temples are fantastic. We went to Hase-dera, one of the better-known temples, but one neither of us had ever been to since it's out of the way. It was great! The gardens were beautiful, and there was a library complete with revolving shelf storing all the works of Buddhist scholars over the years. The legend goes that if you turn the shelf round once, it's the same as reading all the sutras contained inside. I got real smart that day. There was also a small cave with carved statues of the 7 Buddhas. Each one is for a different aspect of life: money, health, luck, etc. After, we had a great Indian lunch near the station and bought some locally brewed beer that was quite tasty.
Monday was okonomiyaki night. We hit the one okonomiyaki place we knew near the station. The waiter was really nice, and Julian managed to charm him along with the table of ladies next to us that we each got a little phone strap reminder. It was a little bottle of Kirin beer that flashes for a while when you smack it.
The rest of this week won't be terribly exciting. Wednesday (tomorrow) is going to be an early evening. Thursday is evening lessons at the part-time school, Friday is a fish restaurant with a couple of old students from Nova, and Saturday is Xmas shopping with my pseudo-cousin Amanda. I finish work on the 20th, then I fly out the 21st. I'll get back and see all the people I haven't seen in ages. Finally. I've enjoyed being here, but it's been too long away from home.