This is going to be random because I am typing off the top of my head.
I didn't realize that I haven't blogged in so long. The thing is, once you lose the momentum to blog, nothing really seems worthy to be updated and I would much rather write personal e-mails to my friends.
I have been exploring places during my time off - Ueno (all the musuems were closed and the other side felt like Mongkok), Machida (supposedly yakuza town), Sagami Ono (the coolest cafe in the world), Hon-Atsugi (authentic Peruvian restuarant), Isehara (out in the country), Roppongi Hills (Le Corbusier architectural exhibition and Harry Potter 5)...
I have also been making a lot of friends, and my language skills definitely comes in handy.
I have been having really bad shoulder aches, so last week P and I went for a massage at a parlour near our apartment and we were received by a lady who greeted us in Japanese. Later I heard her speaking on the phone in Mandarin, so I immediately switched to the same language and we chatted throughout my one-hour session. I found out she was a Chinese married to a Japanese and have been here 5 years, and their daughter is still in China but she has plans to send her to college in the US. She spoke no Japanese when she came here, and without formal education memorized words and phrases to get by. P was not done by the time she finished, so I waited for him and she served me tea and a big mug of Asahi beer and told me that I was welcomed to go up for a chat anytime. P was jealous because he didn't get offered any drinks, except a "kakoii" comment from his masseur which made him uncomfortable haha.
Last night I had a fantastic night out with my Filipino colleague Wendy at an izakaya-style restaurant where we traded teachers' stories and poured our heart out to each other. I hadn't noticed, but she and I are the only two Asian gaijins teaching in our center, and as much as we get along well with all the rest, there is a part of us that will always be different because of our upbringing.
I have also been meeting up with David a lot- we are 13 years apart and different as chalk and cheese, but he has somewhat become an older brother and brings me to all these obscure chill-out places that I would otherwise have not dared to venture into! He has also been taking black and white photographs of me with his old school Nikon camera and promised to show the prints to me the next time we meet. I am used to shooting people, so it felt strange to be on the other side of the lens for once.
I also went out with some students in a group on two occasions, and it was interesting because that's when I am allowed to use my Japanese and we switch roles and have them teach me their language instead.
Also, I experienced my first typhoon and earthquake last week.
Typhoon No. 4 has been making its way across Japan island, wreaking havoc in Okinawa and moving towards Kanto. It hit Tokyo last Sunday and there was warning of trains being stopped and people to take precaution, but I found out that the typhoon had weakened and all that was left was heavy rain and strong winds. I had to go to work as usual, and it didn't seem like anything in the movies.
The earthquake happened when P and I were in our room using the computers, and it began as a gentle sway at first but it didn't stop after a few seconds and P screamed "Get out!" and pulled my hand as we ran out into the living room. I was half-laughing at his reaction, but he explained that the windows before us could have shattered from the movement and it would have been dangerous to stay put.
Such occurrences are very common in Japan and I supposed I will get used to this despite being raised in possibly the most uneventful, safest country in the world.
I have tons of photos in my digicam but am too lazy to edit and upload them. Patience, my dear!