Thursday, January 04, 2007

Busy December weekend!!

The holiday parties came and went.... if I ever hear Mariah Carey's version of "All I Want For Christmas" one more time...... (I used that song as a listen/fill-in-the-blank activity in almost every single one of my classes)....

First came a holiday party for my 2nd year English students- we listened to Christmas songs, made Christmas haikus, played Christmas word games, etc. Many of them had told me that they wouldn't receive Christmas presents, so I gave out wrapped little Christmas goodie bags for each of them and a mixed CD for the winners of the games. The students were ecstatic over the little candy canes (Paul brought what seemed like hundreds of them in his suitcase).


The big Miyazu High School "enkai", the faculty-only party was held at the Amanohashidate Hotel on Friday night, after school. It was a fairly expensive event- we each had to pay to go- it was approx. $85-$90/person. This was a very foreign concept for me since most American work related holiday party expenses are paid for by the company. Regardless, it was my first official enkai, and it was truly an experience. When we arrived, we each randomly picked an origami paper crane from a tray. A number was written on the underside of its wing, which we had to find on the seating chart- the huge tatami banquet room was lined with rows of cushions with trays of food in front of them. I found myself sitting between one of the young social studies teachers (never talked to him before but found out that his English is amazing) and one of the guys who works in the school office. There was unlimited sake and beer and the food on the trays was constantly being replaced by women in kimono rushing back and forth from a hidden well-stocked kitchen. Since we are not allowed to pour our own drinks, everyone was milling about pouring drinks for eachother and everyone quickly became pretty wasted. Sitting on the floor in a respectable manner was pretty much impossible after about 3 minutes of sitting in any position, but as people got more and more drunk, it was easier to sit back and become a bit more casual. There was even a BINGO card on each tray- which was a fair way for everyone to try to win the many wrapped Christmas presents on the stage. (I didn't win anything, but the gifts seemed to be more functional rather than luxurious- paper shredders, binders, etc.) Unfortunately, I had to leave early because I had to go to my volleyball enkai, which was being held at Azitos the same night!



Paul met me at the volleyball party and we were surprised to see that it was a Christmas/costume party. Keita, the volleyball coach, was dressed as a sexy Miss (Mrs.??) Santa. More drinking and another game of BINGO for the Christmas exchange- as each person won, they got to pick a gift from the pile of anonymously wrapped gifts- and then had to proceed to hug each person in the bar. I was the first winner!! Surprisingly, popular American-style gifts like gift-wrapped liquor didn't go over so well, as we found out. The pattern was kitschy, tacky, & random. Nonetheless, lots of fun.







The next day, Saturday, was spent running around, cooking, cleaning, and preparing for my OWN Christmas potluck party that evening. Paul & I made cornbread, a pasta salad, rosemary potatoes, and had tons of snacks and drinks ready. It was a pretty mellow event, a nice mix of Japanese friends and foreigners. Instead of using BINGO as my form of exchanging gifts, I introduced the "White Elephant" idea (stealing gifts, etc.). I wasn't sure if the Japanese were going to be too polite to steal gifts from eachother, but it ended up being a really fun time! There was tons of leftover booze and food, so I'll definitely have to have another party soon (plus, there was a party in Kyoto the same night and guests were stuck having to decide between the two parties)...

Not to be beaten, the Yoshidas who had been at the party late the night before, had planned a day of cultural fun for us on Sunday. Kumi, Becky and Leigh were all at their kimono class in the morning- apparently they were getting their hair and makeup done to go with their gorgeous kimonos and then were going to be paraded around town for the next 12 hours. Masami picked me and Paul up from our house and we all met up and drove to their friend's house. The Yoshidas have these amazing artistic friends, from sound artists to kimono painters to tie weavers to this guy, a very mellow, talented man who sculpts Buddhas, mostly out of wood. It was a long, gorgeous, bump, curvy drive up to the mountains where this guy lived, in a wooden house with a wood burning stove with fantastic views. We hung out in his wodshop and checked out his amazing work, and he told us stories (in English) about his travels and experiences living in India, America, and beyond. As if that wasn't enough, we then proceeded to drive another long, curvy, gorgeous drive to a sake factory, where we got to sample a few different kinds of sake. It was great, but I was exhausted after a long weekend packed with nonstop activities. I felt so bad for Becky & Leigh, who seemed to look as if they were going to faint from exhaustion and starvation, all bound up in those thin kimonos!

Finally, we had the ICC (International Club) party at Miyazu High School. Paul and I had a great time putting it together- lots of Christmas music, decorations, games (Pin the Red Nose on Rudolph), and a gift exchange. We were all munching on popcorn, chocolate cake, hot chocolate, apples, cheese and crackers, etc. while making Christmas cards and decorations for their family and friends. It's probably the closest experience many of them will get to a western Christmas party...

1 comment:

giuli said...

NIce update. glad you exposed everyone to candy canes and stealing gifts. my personal favs of xmas. say hi to paulito. happy new year. gb