This past Tuesday I didn’t have the usual Rotary lunch (I went to the hotel anyway because nobody explicity told me) and instead there was a party at night. This was fun, first of all, because I got a ¥5000 bonus on my ¥10000 monthly allowance for next week’s Okunchi festival. There was also plenty of new crazy Japanese food, like ebi that I ripped apart myself. But the best part, by far, was that every Rotarian was drunk within 15 minutes of the start of the mea. The waitresses were two dozen girls decked out in traditional kimono who were there just as much to entertain as to serve food. Towards the end of what seemed like a never ending meal, they’d sit down at the table with us (on the floor), drink the beer Rotarians gave them, and followed along in any conversation the Rotarians felt like having. They even took them along on the bus into town for even more drinking. For all I know they could have been geisha girls or some such thing, but I really have no idea.
Last night I went with my host mom to some kind of pre-Okunchi thing. It seems like the Japanese can never get enough festivals. There’s the main 3 day Okunchi starting on Monday, plus this thing last night, then out in Tomachi there’s a mini-Okunchi next week that I’m also going to. I really like being able to see all sorts of Japanese thing around at these festivals. Last night there were tons of fancy Japanese dress clothes on display and people performing some kind of rhythmic drum music with lots of shouting. They were also dishing sake out of a big barrel for free. At one location, where they had three Jaodori dragons on display, one of these sake-guys wanted the gaijin (me) to have a cup, but my host mom stopped him. It was a good thing too, because at this point I still hadn’t realized that the stuff in the barrel wasn’t just water. I’m really looking forward to the main festival with all the exchange students in town on Monday.
Since my bank check from Canada finally cleared this week (¥6500 in bank fees), I’ll be able to buy my cellphone on Sunday just before the festival, too! I probably would have gone right away on Tuesday or Wednesday, but I’ll need Taishi to translate for me and since he has exams from today until Tuesday, he’s been studying even more than usual. I plan on getting one of the cheapest AU phones (I decided I liked it before comparing prices). Now that I’m relatively rich, too (that’s relative to my bank balance last week) I may look into getting a little computer translator. It’d be better than flipping through a dictionary all the time, especially if I could fit it in my pocket. The only problem is, the ones I could buy at youmesaito are all for Japanese – i.e. no romaji. I think the best thing I’ll be able to get my hands on is one that has lots of hiragana/katakana for every entry and doesn’t rely on kanji the way Taishi’s does. If I don’t get one, though, I’m sure I’ll be able to survive. After all, it’s gotten me through the last six weeks without too much trouble.