On Sunday, Tajimi school planned to have a BBQ party as their way of ushering in the new school year, never mind the fact that the new school year started in April. But with the rainy season being what it is, the BBQ was rained out. So, plans changed, times changed, and we ended up making plans to go to an Italian buffet instead. Now, keep in mind that this was supposed to be a welcome party for students.
We all meet up and go to the restaurant, and I come to find that it’s only teachers and staff who came. I have to tell you that this was a huge relief to me for several reasons. The most important being that, as much as I enjoy talking to my students, parties like this most often become work for me because I have to teach English and really temper my speech for understanding. It’s a bit tiring for my day off when I had already had a busy, tiring week.
After enjoying a delicious Italian buffet for 90 minutes, we all decided to go to purikura, which is really popular in Japan. Purikura is taking group photos in photo booths, but it’s a step up from normal photo booths because you take a lot more pictures than just four, and then you have the chance to edit your pictures, write on them, and add all kinds of cutesy cute decorations. It’s totally Japanese, and some people do this once a month. I don’t know where you put all the stickers you get. I mean, there are only so many places to stick stickers. But it was my first time and it was quite an adventure. The pictures all ended up being pretty cute, but we had way too many people trying to fit in the booth, so some of the pictures are only of parts of people. After we spent about an hour taking photos and editing, part of our group of nine decided that it was time to head home.
The other five, myself included, decided that karaoke was in order. We headed to a local karaoke shop, only to discover that it was part of a rental car business! I mean, are you kidding me?? We pulled into the parking lot, and the other foreigner who was there, Will, and I were both really confused at first. But when we learned that Japan-Rent-a-Car was also a karaoke shop and the rental clerk talked to us about the karaoke rooms, we couldn’t stop laughing. I mean, Japan has some crazy stuff to offer, but you can become a little immune to it after a while, but this was completely surprising. I would’ve never guessed that that place had karaoke. It seems just completely random! And they had rooms complete with massage chairs, places for the kids to play while you sang. It was seriously hardcore karaoke. Unfortunately, all the rooms were booked all day, so we had to go somewhere else. And I was seriously disappointed! How many times in your life can you say that you sang karaoke at a rental car business? Thus, we went elsewhere, where we had to wait for an hour and a half to get a room. Apparently, karaoke is extremely popular on rainy Sunday afternoons. But it was worth it because we got to sing for three hours at the low low price of 700 yen ($7). We sang an interesting medley of songs, and it got me motivated to learn some Japanese songs well enough for karaoke, especially considering all my Japanese coworkers sang songs mostly in English. I was definitely jealous of their skills!
After three successful hours in karaoke, the group split again, and I found myself enjoying dessert with my boss and another Japanese teacher who is actually leaving Japan today to study abroad for a year in Australia. It made me further realize just how awesome my boss at Tajimi is, and also motivated me to learn Japanese. They would talk for a while in Japanese, then pause to translate. Of course, they did have regular conversation in English, but after a whole day speaking English and even singing in English, I can’t blame them for wanting to relax and switch back to Japanese.
And that’s the end of my eventful, nine hour day in Tajimi. It really is a fun place once you get away from the station!