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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Magical Mystery Tour

Continuing Tuesday, September 10, 1991. I'm still living here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

My day started off with me not looking forward to having to team-teach English at Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School). I hate that school. But despite no one there showing any inclination that they might want to learn anything at school (not just English), I enjoy myself watching the Sports Festival wacky events, and enjoy hanging out with some elementary school kids who come to visit. I'm also taken aback by the agressiveness of a 12-year-old student who looks like she's 21.

So there's good, the bad and the naughty.

After the sports day events, I leave school at 5:40PM and arrive home at 6PM thanks to Gunji-san's scary driving. I do some of my 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle and begin cleaning up my apartment.

 Look... I know I said I wouldn't mention the puzzle, but I didn't read that far ahead into my own diary when transcribing it for you all here in this blog. Yes... I am doing the puzzle in my underwear. Hah!

So... I've only just sort of noticed that I clean my apartment a lot. I mentioned previously that I thought it was a defensive mechanism of mine when I was antsy or upset, or that I simply like a clean place. I am proud to state that the cleanliness angle is really it. I'm having an acid flashback without doing anything stronger than antacid.

When I first moved in to my apartment here in Ohtawara... there was a lone cockroach in the apartment that was quickly stomped on my a floppy-slipper clad Hanazaki-san (one of my two bosses at the OBOE - Ohtawara Board of Education). It was there because the place had been empty for two weeks prior to my arrival.

So... in order to ensure a cockroach never encroaches in my apartment again, I vowed to make it a clean environment. Years later, I heard that cockroaches eat in messy places but prefer to live in clean environments. Anyone want to confirm or deny?

Mr. Maniwa calls me up and asks if I am free. I am anything but free, but I don't have anything better to do so I go over to his pharmacy located a three minute walk away.

Maniwa-san is an old lecherous man who smokes and drinks too much and tried to squeeze Ashley's boobs very early in our sojourn here in Ohtawara. Ashley, my ex-girlfriend but current friend-with-benefits never really went near Maniwa-san again unless I was there with her.

It's not an excuse, but Maniwa-san's behaviour was not atypical of Japan's male population. Of course not every guy gets drunk and sexually assaults a woman—because that is what it is—but a lot do. For example none of my bosses ever acted like that. However, I do know quite a few people on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme who did. A lot of it was mutual, though some of it was not. Again... I never made the first move on any woman here in Japan. Come on... how many other guys do you know who were stalked by a beautiful Japanese woman. I only had to call a stop to it when it became obvious that I was going to die from a lack of sleep and severe dehydration. Other than that, I quite enjoyed all of the sex.

Regardless... despite Maniwa-san having pawed at my girlfriend (and no, it doesn't matter that he didn't know she and I were together then... though he was probably the only one in the city who didn't know that, despite Ashley telling everyone we aren't!), he was a nice guy. I don't really blame him for pawing at Ashley - I had done that enough myself.

Arriving at his pharmacy, he has an assistant watch the shop while he ushers me to a back room - he's not going to feel me up, is he?

I'm pleasantly surprised to see a very pretty young woman there named Wada Ayako (surname first) and less happy to see her boss introduced simply as Ozeki-san.

This is one of the things I absolutely hate about Japan--and really, it's a cultural thing. People introduce themselves as So-and-So-san (Mr./Mrs. or Miss So-and-So). There's very rarely an introduction involving a first name. I've seen students called other by their last name - never a first - and it throws me. Where's the familiarity? It seems cold to refer to another person solely by their family name. I know it's a sign of respect, but using a person's given name (first name) implies friendship or familiarity.

Hell... why do the Japanese call me An-do-ryu-sensei. Andrew is my first (given) name! Joseph is my family name. If you want to treat me like you treat other Japanese people, shouldn't you call me Joseph-sensei? Surely it can't be because I'm a a gaijin (foreigner)? Actually, I think Japan does know that gaijin prefer to be called by their given name. I guess Japanese prefer to be called by their surname. It's probably an honourable thing to do.

Both Mr. Ozeki and Ayako-chan work at the AiAi Town grocery store here in Ohtawara. Because Ayako is going to Australia for one year, she thought she could use some practice speaking English first.

Okay... so why bring your boss?

I'm betting they don't have AiAi Town's in Australia, so this isn't a business exchange. I'm confused.

Regardless, both Ayako and the Man With No First Name speak English very well. Ozeki-san knows some German, so we chat a little bit that way, as well. I'm not fluent in German. What I do know is what I have gleaned from Sgt. Rock comic books and through episodes of of the old television show Hogan's Heroes. It's true.

Maniwa-san (actually, I only ever called him Mister Maniwa) goes out and brings back a lot of beer and sake (Japanese rice wine), and some jumbo shrimp and sashimi to eat. Wow! When we finish everything off, we go to the 4C bar for more drinks. I don't know why... this is my hang-out with Ashley and Matthew, but I've never seen any of these people there... it hardly seems like Mister Maniwa's type of place. Too classy, if you know what I mean.

Ozeki-san and I have Apricot Cocktails. Believe me, I'm not bragging. It was his choice. We also have a couple of beers... I think I'm in the double digit numbers for booze. Oh... and cutie-pie Ayako keeps up.

At the 4C, I meet a Japanese guy who lives in Tennessee, US. He calls him self a red-neck and is a laugh-a-minute riot. I have no idea if I ever asked him why he has come back to Ohtawara because I was toasted.

Who knew an apricot cocktail could pack such a punch?

I go home at 11PM and quickly fall asleep on the sofa. I awaken at 2:30AM, take out my dry contact lenses and then go to bed.

Somewhere I'm a teacher English effin' gre- burp -great,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Beatles: ROLLUP
PS: When did I actually teach any English this evening?

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