Saturday, December 27

So Much Christmas... Etc.

An early Christmas present: Ontake-san in the morning.
Dec. 24

As it had rained the night before, Christmas Eve morning was frosty, blue and all kinds of wonderful.

Beautiful Christmas Eve Morning
Tambo, houses and the Minami Alps

Christmas Day was my last day of classes, but it turned out to be a totally excellent day.

My schedule:
Period 1: Have my schedule rearranged and cover for the teacher who came in late. Refresh the kids' Christmas memory and play some active games.
Period 2: More of the same.
Period 3: Play a great game of soccer with my 2nensei boys. Love!!!
Period 4: Check notebooks and find out that Ryosei copied his letter word for word from Sunao.
Lunch: Enjoy a super delicious Select Lunch to some fine Christmas beats, with fine Christmas cheer all around.
Hiruyasumi: Stay warm in the teachers' room and continue notebooks. Write "Merry Christmas!" on all of them.
Souji: Plant pansies with my 2nensei souji crew in the very cold garden.
Period 5 until the end of the day: Putz around on the computer, try to figure out how to get certified to teach in Maryland.

"Select Lunch"
Roast chicken, "salad", egg/corn soup (sans mushrooms), kuro roll pan, chocolate cake.

Thursday night was Christmas dinner at Nikko's place. Nikko, Shona, Cream, Chris D., Nigel and I hooked up the eats and beats (as in, egg and music) and had a grand ol' time. We had roast chicken (can never get enough), mashed potatoes, garlic green beans, breads, crunk juice of various sorts, homemade EGG NOG, salad and Chocoyaki.

Nikko's Brainchild: Takoyaki for Dessert
Sans tako + SWEET

Nikko and Chris dig in.

Once again, can you understand why I wouldn't want to leave?
My beloved Ena-san in the afternoon.

For the 26th, I was invited by my old school, LMS, to join them in Hirugami (Nagano Prefecture) for their Bonenkai (End of the Year Party). Joined I did. Onsen-ed I did. Ate I did. Good Times I had.

Carpet at the hotel

We checked in early and took a spin in the onsen (hot spring bath) before dinner. The outdoor rotenburo was so luscious in the cold air and there was even a grotto.

Saki and I, post-onsen.

The Initial Spread

Dinner was delicious, and what wasn't was given away to the gents on either side of me. As we ate, we drank, socialized and played a LMS-based quiz of big events of the year. I even got one right, and won a prize! After some swapping with Kocho-sensei, I ended up with a big can of Ritz crackers.

Ebi, etc.

After dinner some folks headed home, and 6 of us stayed: Saki, 4 "boys" and I. While I was knackered, the boys weren't through, and coaxed us into joining them for some karaoke. However, the karaoke turned out to be a hostess bar downstairs, so there was a little finagling to be done so that Saki and I could join.

In the album of my mind: Middle-aged men in yukata, haori and cream-colored pleather slippers singing old Japanese songs on a stage, under colored lights and in front of a sparkly silver curtain. And oh, so pleased with themselves. The only other females in the room were a bunch of not-so-cute hostesses all in white outfits, so seem pure, one could assume.

Typical Onsen Hotel

The next morning we were on our way back to the onsen, when we were told it was time for breakfast, so we had to eat in our yukata - with only undralls underneath - on the floor, in the same room we'd had our party the night before. Talk about awkward.

Saki and I in front of the hotel.

Kitty Goes Skiing

On the way home, we stopped briefly at a little skiing place which happened to have Kitty-chan as its mascot. Saki grabbed a random kid to pose with me.

Me, Kitty and a New Friend

And now I'm recuperating before heading into Nagoya/Okazaki tomorrow for more holiday cheer with Lulu, Jorge, Aya and Paul. Kyoto he no shinkansen no kippu o kaou!


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