This is Part Two of the story, so if you’d like to read Part One and haven’t yet, click here.
After arriving home at some point in the afternoon, I had a few hours to get ready for my date for the evening: a friend who’d had to work on the Saturday night but was still keen to meet up. It was only our second meeting ever, and so I was a little nervous we’d fall into awkward silence, especially given our first encounter was carried out under the influence of alcohol and 3am craziness. It turned out I had nothing to worry about. We chatted nonstop like old friends, and made me very glad I’d met her at 59s (our favourite local bar) and bonded over our shared attributes.
Guys are overrated. Sometimes it’s nice to pick up girls in bars for a change!
Saturday and Sunday nights were a great success, on the birthday front, however my weekend was not over just yet. Japan had recognised my early birthday celebration weekend as a time needing of a national holiday, and so on Monday I jumped in an 8-seater car with a bunch of my students, a second vehicle following close behind, and headed down to Chita for a BBQ, Japanese style.
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but it definitely can’t be compared to your typical Aussie family barbie. There was undercover seating, for one thing; and a line to get in! We all chipped in a certain about, roughly $30 from memory, and then we were able to grab some tables before heading over to wear all the food was laid out, raw and waiting.
Luckily one of the students who came was an expert, and soon the delicious smells of barbequed seafood were wafting over to us. It wasn’t long before we were tucking into clams, mussels, oysters, squid, and various other delicious delicacies. After eating our fill, we headed over to the counter where they were selling tasty looking icecream-like creations, and proceeded to fill our second, dessert designated, stomachs (it turns out this is a phenomena that crosses cultural bounds).
The few hours that we spent at Uotarou were fun, relaxing, and very filling, however even after our time there was up, our day wasn’t over! The day’s next adventure was at the ebi sembei factory. A factory dedicated solely to a savoury snack made from prawns, and other various ingredients. There were endless taste-testing opportunities; it turns out they were a lot nicer than I had expected! (Well, some were, at least).
We tasted, we bought, we took photos, and we drove back to Nagoya.
That evening Nagoya Port Festival was being held, and even though I was far too tired to actually attend, I was happy to relax in Starbucks with a friend and check out all the beautiful girls dressed in their yukata, sipping on frappucinos.
The next part of my birthday adventures was the most notable; that being my first time back home in the almost 2 years I’ve been in Japan! I went for a year and a half without taking any days off, in order to save my annual leave for this trip. I used 6 days to extend the holiday to almost 3 weeks, and I had the best time ever. It was amazing to see all of my family and friends, and to also meet my new family, as while I was home, my dad got married!! So so happy for him and his lovely new wife, and her children now feel just like siblings to me. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful extended family, and I hope they all come and visit me in Japan soon!! (Hint hint)
Other highlights from the trip back home were a visit to Christmas Hills Raspberry farm with my little sister, a trip down the East Coast with my mum and her tour guide husband to a wildlife park, a beach with a secret cave, and a place called Possum Whole Foods which served the best (albeit only) chicken and camembert pie I have had in a long, long time. In fact, I had so many pies while I was home that I might not want another one for, wait, who am I kidding? You can never have enough meat pies!! Just in case anyone was wondering, no, I did not eat any kangaroo pies, burgers, or anything else like that. As a matter of fact, it was quite the reverse! Rather than the kangaroos feeding me, I fed them! (Just with little pellets intended for the kangaroos’ consumption, before you get any weird ideas).
The time at home went by way too fast, as I had always known it would, and very soon it was time to get back on the plane to Japan. I am glad that I organised ahead of time what I wanted to do, so I could see the majority of the people I wanted to see, and eat and drink and chat and laugh with my closest friends as much as I did.
I’ve been back at work a few weeks now, and things are starting to feel normal and routine-like once again, but a big part of me is looking forward to going back to Tasmania for an extended period of time to be an active part of this new family. My plan at this stage, however, is to remain in Japan until Spring of 2016, which will hopefully give me time to travel to a few more places, spend quality time with all the friends I have made here, and most importantly, get my Japanese up to scratch. I recently passed the JLPT N4, and I would like to at least pass the N3 before I leave.