Friday, July 30, 2010

Karaoke in Kuji

The word "sayonara" has been mentioned in this blog a lot recently.

(I guess you'll have that when you're saying goodbye to people for three weeks and attending numerous sayonara parties.)

What I've failed to mention before, is that more often than not, a party here actually consists of two parties...or even three. After the first party, there's usually a second one. And in my experience, the second one is usually at a karaoke place.

So I've been singing a whole lot of karaoke lately. But am I sick of it? Nope. :)

Each time I go, it's a different mix of people and different songs.

When I go with other ALTs/foreigners, we sing mainly English songs that everyone knows. When I go with Japanese friends, I listen as they sing Japanese songs, and it's a good way for me to practice reading hiragana, and hear/learn some new songs. I especially love going with my co-workers because it's fun to see them let loose and have fun out of the office.

On Monday night, after the formal dinner where I gave a speech and received a yukatta, a small group of us went to the second party to sing.

Here's what I mean about having folks having fun out of the office...

Yep, this is my boss, Yamadate. He's kind of a special case though because he's goofy a lot of the time. :)

Karaoke is a good place to go for drinks. At the local karaoke place, you get all you can drink (alcohol included) for an hour for about $7.

As I've explained to Japanese friends here, karaoke in the states just isn't the same. Instead of a single person on stage performing for an audience, it's a lot more fun as a group activity. But still, sometimes people here choose to sing solo, and that's cool too; it's fun to cheer them on, and it's sometimes good for a laugh. :) That reminds me of a karaoke story from a few months ago...

In between songs, I was talking to a Japanese guy I'd just met who was trying to name all of the Great Lakes. He named them all but Lake Erie. The lake he was missing finally dawned on him, and he proclaimed, "LAKE ELLIE!" (hehe). And that reminded him of the Ray Charles song "Ellie, My Love," which he then *attempted to sing.

*key word in this sentence :)

It was quite entertaining.

Tonight, Nate and I have a sayonara party with the other local ALTs and friends from Kuji. There is sure to be karaoke afterwards. This will make the third time this week that I've sung karaoke! I guess that before I leave Japan (a week from tomorrow! eek!), I'm getting my karaoke fix.

I will definitely miss it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Farewell speech

On Monday night, Nate and I had a goodbye dinner with Kuji City officials and co-workers from the Board of Education.

We were both given flowers and yukattas. (a summer version of a kimono, worn at festivals)

Sporting our new outfits.

A full-length shot. My yukatta kind of goes with the carpet, haha.

With the Kuji City Mayor.

Nate and I also gave speeches in Japanese. Here's the English version of my speech...

Good evening, everyone.

Before I moved to Kuji two years ago, I didn't know much about Japanese culture. I didn't know anyone in Japan. I didn't know any Japanese - other than "konnichiwa," "arigatou," and "Onaka peko peko. (" I'm hungry. ") Isu creamu wa arimasuka?" ("Do you have ice cream?")

I told my family and friends in Indiana, "Don't worry about me in Japan. I know how to ask for ice cream, so I'll be fine!" :) But I still think they worried about me moving to the other side of the world. They said, "Two years is a long time!"

But the past two years have gone by very fast! That's because they've been a wonderful two years. Of course there have been challenges, but the last two years have mainly been full of great times, interesting experiences and fantastic memories.

Now, I can say that I've learned a lot about this interesting country, and I've shared my experiences with friends and family in America through my blog.

Now, not only do I know people in Japan, I have many good friends here. Japanese people are so friendly, and I've felt very welcomed in Kuji since day one.

Now, my Japanese has come a long way since when I first arrived and pronounced Iwate as "I wait."

Now, I consider Japan my home. I'm still not exactly sure what the future holds for me, but I know that I want to keep traveling and keep having great experiences learning about other cultures. I also know that no matter where I go, Japan will always have a special place in my heart, as will the people of Kuji City.

Thank you, everyone, for helping make me feel so at home these past two years. I appreciate it so much.

I originally had my speech written in Japanese to post here just for fun, but Blogger or this computer?, decided to automatically translate it to "English." (You'll see in a second why I have to put quotes around that.)

So now just for kicks, this is what happened when my speech was translated by the computer...(It makes me chuckle because this is sometimes how people here talk to me when they've used a Japanese to English on-line translation site.)...

Everyone, good evening.

I knew almost nothing about Japanese culture until two years ago to Kuji.
Japan did not even know.
Japanese know that "Hello" "Thank you" "I'm starving" "Do I have ice cream" was just.

My family and friends in Indiana in Japan that I do not worry.
I learned how to ask where the ice cream'll be OK! Communicated with.
Still, everyone, "I'm a long two years," I was concerned that going and going halfway around the world.

But two years went too quickly.
Surely it would be very nice for two years.
There was also difficult, of course, still had a great time the last two years a lot of wonderful memories and stuffed enjoyable experience.

I am now and learned a lot Iemasu to this interesting place called Japan.
And we share this great experience with my family and friends in the U.S. through my blog.

The cut of a good friend you know too many people in Japan.
Japanese people are so kind, I felt strongly that everyone is welcome since it first came to Kuji.

I also Japanese, "Iwate" the "I wait" has improved compared to the first Oita Japan had been pronounced.

Japan is my second home.
What are what the future holds for me, but I still do not continue to travel in the future and would like to continue to go through a wonderful experience different cultures.
The Kono先 wherever you go with me, Japan, and everyone will continue to reign Kuji best seat in my heart.

We thank you for giving me a comfortable environment for treating as if they were the last two years.
Everyone, thank you very much.

Yep. Kuji continues to reign the best seat in my heart alright. :) haha

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Shake it like a polaroid picture..."

This weekend I went to the annual ALT sayonara party, where we stayed in cabins in Yamada, just like last year.

I admit that I didn't take many pictures while I was there. However, I did "shake it like a polaroid picture," (a line from the song "Hey Ya") which is one of many tunes I danced to last night. :)

Before the late night dancing, I did lots of socializing, lots of eating of delicious grilled foods (and s'mores, yay!), and spent the afternoon at the beach, which I do actually have a photo of...

Yuka and me in our summer beach attire. :)

As expected, the water was very cold. But also as expected, I had a good time hanging out with friends...even the part when I was thrown in the water and one of the guys put mud on my back and seaweed in my hair.
(I retaliated by splashing. And sadly, it was not very effective.)

Today, we took our time driving back to Kuji, stopping at the Mos Burger--a Japanese fast food chain--where I ordered a seafood sandwich made with a rice bun...

This was a first for me. Very tasty!

From Mos Burger, we went to Baskin Robbins, (I highly recommend the Hawaiian Crunch flavor & Love Potion) and then we stopped at a really pretty overlook area...

Walking down to the lower platform...

This week, the sayonara parties continue as I'm down to only 12 more days left in Kuji.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Take 1 and Take 2

Monday was a random holiday here (Marine Day), and Jon, Georgia and I decided to make use of the nice weather & the day off work to go the beach!

First, we went to a pool separated from the ocean by rocks. Check it out...

Take 1:

This place is just minutes away from Samuraihama Elementary School, where I went for the very last time on Friday.

Take 2 of the ocean pool:

We didn't get more than just our feet wet since it became overcast and the water was FREEZING. But we stayed for a little while before driving further up the coast to Taneichi Beach, which is by far the nicest beach in our area. It's about 45 minutes away from Kuji, but it's totally worth the drive because the beach actually has sand. :) Since the sun came out, we got in the (again, FREEZING) water to jump waves.

Later on, while lying out on the sand (yay for sand!), we heard "Auld Lang Syne" being played over the intercom...on repeat! It must have played about 10 times. So random.

Or so we thought. My English conversation class informed me tonight that "Auld Lang Syne"--"the goodbye song"--being played over and over means that it's closing time. Hmmm...well, that explains why we pretty much had the beach to ourselves once the song stopped playing, haha.

On Tuesday, I taught at Ube Elementary for the last time. At the end of day, I said goodbyes for about 30 minutes before I finally left, but it wasn't sad, as you can tell from the pictures...

Take 1:

The entire school came out to the lobby to wish me farewell...over and over again. (kind of like "Auld Lang Syne," they were on repeat mode!)

Take 2:

After every single student gave me a high-five, they went outside to make a tunnel, using their arms for me to walk under...all the way from the front door of the school to my car!

After another round of high-fives, some hugs and some more pictures, I finally drove away...and was chased down the driveway by students yelling "BYE BYE DANA SENSEI!!!" Mercy.

That brings us to today...

I had to say goodbye to Yamane Jr. H.S. at a farwell ceremony that had for me. The principal gave a speech (in English!), then the students took turns speaking, then it was my turn to say a few words. (in both English and Japanese). They gave me a little photo album of pictures and messages, as well as a sign with my name on it in kanji. Then I played a little concert for them.

Take 1:

That's the principal giving me bunny ears! Ah, I'm really going to miss him.

Take 2:

My turn to give him (sideways) bunny ears. :)

So that's what's been going on for the last few days. I haven't been bored, that's for sure!