I’ve been a little quiet on here recently due to working a lot, a visit to Taipei (post coming soon), starting a new job and entertaining a friend from the UK. Gomennasai.
Last week was crazy on several levels. It was an “only in Japan” week. Imagine accidentally ending up at an exclusive yacht party…
As most weeks do, my week began on Monday – in fact, painfully early on Monday as I was still in Taipei. Calle and I caught the 4:30am bus to Taoyuan Airport, took our wonderful 6:55am flight and arrived in Japan a little before 11am. Needless to say I was shattered. I travelled in a zombie-like state in the train, mindlessly playing Angry Birds on Calle’s Iphone (I’m a bit slow on the craze but I have no desire to visit the theme park).
By the time, I had made it back to Kyoto, I had less than an hour until I had to go back to Osaka for my last day at an elementary school. This was one of my jobs where I was paid just to play with children in English. As a result, I have had to develop non-existent football skills and I’ve had to (re)learn to run fast. Because when playing tag, I am always the tagger. Cries of “Phoebe-sensei wa onii!” still echo in my ears.
On my arrival, I was surprised to find a leaving party had been organised. A little manga version of myself adorned the wall and I was presented with a beautiful leaving card, “signed” by all the children and adorned with photos of our time together.
I was really quite moved by the presentation. The children said they wanted to dance. They had been practising, I was told.
Given the level of organisation so far, my expectations were fairly high. Then the kids shoved on a Halloween CD. A happy American voice boomed out “time for Halloween!” Some kids proceeded to wobble and a few kids just stood, twitching their arms and laughing. Then the animal masks came out.
So with a Halloween party track echoing in the room, I proceeded to watch a trippy display of a dancing lion and elephant and some kids rolling about on the floor.
Then one boy demanded a change of music, ripped off his jumper, revealing half his body in the process, and attempted to breakdance by spinning round and round on his back.
This was all highly entertaining. The last time we had a party event, the kids ate salty crackers with a mixture of tuna-mayo sauce from a squirty bottle, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I had to participate and the bizarre combinations still turn my stomach.
Tired as I was, I returned to Kyoto in a party mood and I was looking forward to a boat party on Lake Biwa on Friday. My landlord, an incredibly fit 82-year old, had invited us to this “boat party”. It all sounded run and rather informal. We’ll be drinking he told us. I envisioned a small boat with a few retired people, sipping sake and playing go or hanafuda, or some other traditional games.
I was wrong.
Warning sign #1) When we turned up at my landlord’s house, he and his wife were dressed very smartly indeed.
Warning sign #2) Conversation en route: “I was the president of the Biwako Yacht Club. Tonight is a party for 130 years.”
Our landlord was greeted with great deference as we approached two rather swanky-looking yachts.
We were played on board by a band of three gaijin (foreigners) and I waved very happily to the clown, who had a massive balloon hat…which I subseuqently managed to wear.
The phrase “sticking out like a sore thumb” comes to mind. Not only were we the most casually dressed, but aside from the musicians and a professor from New Zealand, we were the only foreigners around. I noticed eyes slide towards and casually flicker elsewhere as if they weren’t looking really. But I didn’t need to fix my smile. I was already far too excited by everything and ran around pointing and photographing everything.
And Pheebz Eatz. So eat I did.
There was no buffet; there was a banquet. At least four rooms across the boat were filled with food. Every kind of meat was laid out in mouthwatering mountains. It was definitely a statement: the vast quantity of meat and relative small amount of fish proved that the Biwako Yacht Club has money to throw about. The food was exquisite.
And by now, you probably realise I love beef. So this was practically erotic for me.
They also had plenty of desserts, including a divine chocolate fountain and these super-cute cones, filled with cream and topped with a raspberry and blueberry.
The evening ended with fireworks and a bizarre conversation with a retired salary man, which resulted in a Frapanese – a mix of French and Japanese. It was wonderful – not only was I able to communicate with someone but I could practise two languages at once.
Of course, it was also wonderful because I was at the most exclusive party in town. And I was full of beef.