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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Noboko And Andrew: Prequel To The Sequel

When last I wrote of myself and Japan, my three years on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme had come and gone.

I wouldn't say it was quick, and neither was it slow. It just… was.

I very much enjoyed myself working as an assistant English teacher (AET) living in my hometown, the small rural city of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken between July 1990 and July 1993.

I had taught at the then-seven junior high schools in the city, lost my virginity and then some to a fellow JET participant, screwed half the adult female population of the city under the age 28 and learned the ropes of sex, literally, with a mentally-unstable girlfriend who stalked me with some fixated, rabid obsession that I at first enjoyed immensely (what recent virgin wouldn't?), but after night after night of sleep deprivation due to excessive amounts of sex (I'm not complaining about the sex - merely the sleep deprivation), I needed to get out and away - and I did with help from my Ohtawara Board of Education members - keeping every hush-hush.

Eventually, and quite surprisingly, in my eyes, I found a girlfriend.

She hated me at first, believing some heresy that I had got some poor young Japanese woman pregnant and then ignored her cries for help. Not my style. Still, nothing of that sort ever happened with me as the participant.

Despite protesting my innocence, it wasn't until the students at one of my schools was able to convince/wear-down their teacher, that she and I became a couple.

Of course, by then, I only had mere months left on my third and final one-year contract with the Board, as JET rules would only allow participants to stay a maximum of three years. I believe it's five years, now.

I would have stayed forever just to be with Noboko.

But… because of her father, she was unable to commit to any sort of long-term relationship with me after my contract was up.

To convince her otherwise, plans were afoot for me to return to Japan to get the girl and live happily ever after. You know… the happy fairy-tale story where they lived happily ever-after. The End.

I'm back home in Toronto now… It's August of 1993… my mother has just come out of the hospital following a month-long stay that no one wants to explain to me what for (gotta protect the child, right?)… and I'm flush with $10,000 - money saved in the last three months of Japan-living after blowing every damn yen I had earned in the previous 33 months of my stay.

Spending money in Japan is easy. Earning it is easy, too. Saving it… well… I'm a proponent of having a good time when you can… make hay while the sun shines and all that, because saving money for a rainy day - who the hell wants to go outside when it's raining?

I know, plenty of people… I don't mind a light rain or a drizzle even, but I prefer the sun.

In Japan, I was (un)affectionately known as the "Ame-Otoko", which can be translated as both the "Candy Man" or the "Rain Man" - it really depends on the Japanese kanji letters used.

Despite my sweet disposition and love of candy, I was the Rain Man owing to my ability to cause it rain whenever I traveled outside of my city for work or for vacation.

So… I have arranged for a return trip to Japan… to leave on September 3 and stay until September 20, 1993.

I do not have a job - or any inkling of finding a job in Toronto, because in my heart of hearts, I am unsure if I'll need to, seeing as how I may need to find some gainful employment in Japan to be with Noboko.

For some reason, I decided to cheap out on the air fare.

I don't recall what carriers I flew, but in order to save $300 for a now $1100 flight, I was flying from Toronto-Dallas-Nome-Seoul-Narita Airport (aka Tokyo's airport located the nearby province of Chiba-ken).

There was to be a six hour layover in Alaska, and two hours plus in South Korea.

But… the way I figured it… $300 saved was what I could spend on Noboko.

I had already made arrangements with my friend Colin McKay… a cool dude originally from Calgary, who was about to start his third year as the Kuroiso-shi High School AET on JET, ok?

He was going to let me stay at his place - free of charge for two weeks.

What a great guy. This is him…

… in what is a telephone card made from one of my photographs. Colin is the shorter of the three in the middle. The guy with the best tan ever - that's me on the right. The tall guy on the left is fellow Canadian James "Jimmy Jive" Dalton, formerly of Stoney Creek, Ontario.

I can tell you that it was pure accident that three Canadians were hanging out as friends. Definitely not planned. But a happy happenstance, regardless.

The three of us are hanging out in my hometown of Ohtawara-shi at some cultural festival doing impressions of "I'm With Stupid" and "Stupid's With Me".

So… in day after tomorrow's blog… I'll be back in Japan. It takes a while to get there, eh.

Take off, you hoser,
Andrew Joseph

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