Party in Inuyama

Even though I left Inuyama that doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on there anymore. I still keep in touch with Kristin and I always check Sean’s (my replacement) facebook for the latest pictures, videos and stories from Inuyamaland. Apparently, one of the Japanese teachers, Aiko, has transferred to a new school this week and today was her going-away party.
Kristin asked me to come to the party and stay over at her place and that was a very easy decision, of course I’d be there! So today I hopped on a Shinkansen to Nagoya and more than 2 hours later I found myself in Kristin’s Inuyama pasting together a photobook which Kristin wanted to surprise Aiko with but which she hadn’t had time to make yet. Good thing I was there to help. Kristin added the finishing touch to the front while we were waiting for the other partygoers in front of a closed (!) Al Centro.
That’s right sadly enough the party was not held at Al Centro, as it’s closed on Sundays, so we went to some izakaya instead. The students didn’t know that I was coming to the party and it was really fun to see their shocked faces. And of course it was great to do some serious catching up with some of my favorite students! Some of the teachers also didn’t know I was coming to Inuyama and their shock was a little more audible and exaggerated. I brought Aiko some pastries disguised as takoyaki, an Osaka delicacy (although I don’t care for them much) and of course I put in a lot of work on the photo and comment book. Before Aiko received the book, we passed it around with a bag of markers so that everybody could write some comment in the book. And the end product was good, there’s something about colorful Japanese writing that makes everything look so pretty.
I love parties at Al Centro because of the familiarity and the chairs which making getting up and walking around very easy, but the main reason is the delicious white wine they serve. The food at this izakaya was very good, even better than at Al Centro, but the booze was quite disappointing and the atmosphere was very nice but the Japanese seating (with holes in the floor for your legs) made getting up and moving about quite bothersome. Especially when Moe, the manager, asked me to give a speech as the special guest! I had just finished telling Kristin that not working at Inuyama anymore relieved me from any of those party duties, but I was wrong. 
At this izakaya they had the typical alcoholic drinks I don’t like, like beer, shochu and sake, and they the cocktails or chuhais, but they were so watered down that they had no effect on my mental state whatsoever… Compare that to the all-powerful Al Centro wine that has the ability to make any great party a super party. After we moved the party to the karaoke place across the street, I kind of gave up on getting any kind of drunk and consumed ginger ale the rest of the night as that was included in the price.
But of course I still enjoyed the party while being sober, sang some songs with students and just enjoyed being around all those familiar faces. And this time being sober, I didn’t end up kissing everybody in the karaoke room, like I did at the end of my farewell party in May!
Of course I took loads of pictures, but most of them include students from my old school, and company policy prohibits me from showing students in the open on the web… So if you want to see these fun pictures, please become my Flickr friend or family.

One year in Japan!

One year ago today I arrived at Chubu Airport near Nagoya to start my life here in Japan. A year later I’m at the airport again, this time Kansai Airport near Osaka. I’m flying home (again) because my training for the new job in Osaka doesn’t start until June 7th.

So I get to see everyone again and Bon Jovi happens to be touring Europe right now, so I get to see them in action one more time (European style) this year! I’m very excited, but I’ll have to survive a 12 hour flight first…

My last day at the Inuyama school

I really had fun teaching at this school and my students are the most adorable people I’ve ever met. Naturally it’s quite sad to have to say goodbye to everybody, so I’ve been giving all my adult students little gifts. They weren’t much because I have a lot of students, but they all loved it. The little presents consisted of a Jip & Janneke (Dutch cartoon) magnet, a piece of speculaas (Dutch cookie) and a Pickwick teabag (my favorite Dutch tea). Of course, I’m not leaving the staff of the school empty-handed. I went to international supermarkets here in Inuyama and Nagoya and managed to collect a small batch of Dutch products. I got them Droste chocolates, peanut cookies, syrup waffles, Haagse Hopjes (coffee candy), Van Houten instant hot chocolate and a whole box of my favorite Pickwick tea (which I actually bought in the Netherlands during Shogatsu). I hope the staff likes it as much as the students did.

So today I’m teaching my last class here, I’m actually only teaching private lessons today because Sean, the teacher that is replacing me, is going to try the regular lessons today while I observe him. I hope he’ll treat my students well! And after classes today we will have a big farewell party at Al Centro, the Italian restaurant next door to the school.

The girl on the picture with the big nose, huge pink mouth and enormous thumb is me by the way, this is how Moe (the artist of this poster) sees me apparently! Unfortunately, only 30 students can attend because the place is quite small, but I know it’s going to be a great party! And we’re planning to do some karaoke after the Al Centro party, which I really don’t want to miss even though I have to get up really early tomorrow to move out of my apartment…

My replacement

The new teacher arrived today, his name is Sean and he came all the way from California:

I spent the whole day showing him the ropes here at school, and in Inuyama, which was fun. His arrival did make me realize, for real, that I’m really leaving and that I won’t be here next week to teach my adorable students… sniff. I’m sure he’ll do fine and so far he really seems to like the school and the students. Tomorrow, he’s going to teach one lesson, so I’m curious how he’s going to do.

Message from my new school

Today, a letter from the Senri Chuo staff arrived welcoming me to the new school in Osaka:
And they also included a page with staff pictures:
It’s sad to leave this school, its staff and students soon, but at least there’ll be another school filled with students and staff waiting for me. The staff all sound and look nice, and I can’t wait to meet them next month!

Sushi with students

Tonight we had a do-it-yourself-sushi party with some of our students. Ayano picked Kristin and me up after work and drove us to Taka’s apartment in Gifu. Waiting for us there were Keigo and Takayuki who had prepared everything for us. They bought all the supplies and cooked a lot of sushi rice:

A little while later Yoshie joined us and Keigo taught us how to make our own maki-sushi from all the ingredients on the table. It wasn’t difficult, just slap some rice on a piece of nori, add a mixture of seafood and roll:

Of course the guys also made sure there was more than enough to drink in the apartment, kampai!

It was a lot of fun and it’s too bad we didn’t do something like this earlier, instead of a week before I move away. But we still have my farewell party this Saturday and we’re planning on some karaoke afterwards so that should be fun too!
(you have to be my Flickr friend of family to see most of these pictures because my students are on them)

Jeroen in Inuyama

The first thing we did after Jeroen was in Inuyama today, was check out my shoebox apartment. Apparently, Jeroen was under the impression that my room was even smaller than it really is, so he didn’t think it was that bad. Well, I still think it’s small especially compared to his luxurious multi-room apartment in Seoul, but it’s home and at least I don’t have a lot to clean. We also paid my school a small visit, which was closed of course, so Jeroen only admired the outside of the building. Still, he’s the first and only Dutchie to visit me here in Inuyama, so it was cool.

I decided it would be cool for us to take a small boat tour on the Kiso river, because what else are you going to do out here in the country and it was really hot and sunny, so it would be a great opportunity for us to get a bit of a tan. Our boating adventure started with a long wait for the shuttle bus, which wasn’t that bad because we got to catch up and start our tan in those 45 minutes. After we finally fought our way on the bus (too many people, too little space in the bus) it took the shuttle bus at least 30 minutes to get to the start of the boat tour, and once we got there we waited some more for the captains to finish their breaks and actually start the tour. But it was all worth it, because the hour-long trip over the Kiso river was awesome!

‘Shooting the Nihon Rhine Rapids’ was exciting and beautiful and not at all what we had expected. And we got wet (but the water was clear and beautifully green) and we got a tan, so what more do you want on a hot day? I liked it so much that I’m definitely going on the ¥3400 ride one more time with Yasu before I leave Inuyama.

Shooting the Nihon Rhine Rapids with some Dutch narration, but don’t worry I subtitled it in English

After our thrilling boat ride, we walked down to Inuyama castle, which is Japan’s oldest castle in its original state and therefore a national treasure. It’s a tiny castle and hundreds of people wanted to see it today, so it was super crowded. There were even long lines to ascend and descend the steep and slippery stairs inside the castle, and the top of the castle was crawling with people. Yet, a tourist shouldn’t leave Inuyama without seeing this particular sight so we went. And afterwards I got to try sesame soft ice cream in the castle town, so that was worth it.

After our Inuyaman adventures we headed back to Nagoya for some tebasaki at Yamachan and coffee at Starbucks. And then it was time to say goodbye again. Even though Jeroen didn’t get to eat any kaitensushi, sing karaoke or dress up as a geisha (Kyoto is a bit too far from Nagoya), I think he did have a nice Japanese experience. And of course he did some sightseeing in Tokyo himself before and after his Nagoyan adventure, so I’m sure his visit to Japan was very satisfying!