I don't mean to make it sound like I only live on the weekend! I actually had a great Thursday night out after work with some co-workers who took me to a small restaurant that only charges 500 yen (roughly $5) for all you can drink soda, juice, tea, wines, beer, cocktails, whatever, for 90 minutes! Not only the drinks, but the food was quite cheap, and not bad. I don't know how or why it was so cheap, but I will be going there again sometime for sure! Work itself was a lot of written translations and the usual. I also do an "English lunch" every Wednesday with people at work who want to use what they know, but most are quite shy and need prompting/prodding. And Friday I went to an elementary school in Mihara for work. After giving them my standard lesson about American culture we ate lunch together, then some of the older members of the community came to help us pound mochi and play traditional Japanese games, like japanese spinning tops, gokokunarebi, a variation of Igo, kendama, and others. It was a fun day.
Saturday I worked, and at night played poker with my friends. I lost. heh heh. But the whole time we talked about goofy shit and enjoyed the highs and lows as the game progressed. I went around midnight because I had to work the next day too! Sunday I got up and rushed to work by 7:30am. From there, myself and some other members of the HIC, as well as volunteer staff, loaded onto a bus with 39 foreign residents of Hiroshima to Kita-hiroshima Town's district of Mizoguchi. Basically the boonies, but this was my second time going on the trip. The purpose was to show these foreigners, mostly from India, Indonesia, China, Brazil, and Mexico, what life is like in a region with heavy snowfall. Last year was waist-deep snow we made snowmen and inter-tubed downhill on. This year we had our big snowfall a few weeks early, so when we got there all that was left was the dirty, small patches left in the shade. "Oh no! What did you do??" you might fret, but fear not, the locals figured this out a few days in advance and whipped up some other traditional events, like...pounding mochi! Boring for me, since I had done just two days before, but good fun and a rare occasion for most people, Japanese included! There was Kagura as well, like last year, and I got to watch an Oni who made his way through the crowd to stage, stand right in front of me and reduce a 4 year-old Japanese boy to tears just by looming over him. I almost died laughing.
Don't forget this was for work. What work? I was translating constantly. Announcements before during and after, on the bus there and back, and speeches and explanations about the foreign and local food and cultures Japanese to English AND English to Japanese.
Best of all were the old men outside. The were there last year too, and only came inside for lunch. Despite the freezing cold, they preferred to stand outside around an stove pipe stove on wheels and they cut cups out of bamboo that morning to drink sake out of. This year though was an added treat. One of the old men had just come back from hunting wild boar in the mountains, and cooked up ribs for anyone who wanted them right there on the top of the stove! I ate about...5 ribs. They were sooo good!
As if my weekend, despite working everyday, couldn't be any better, Monday I finally got a day off. This was good timing being February 1st, the 2 year anniversary of my relationship with Sachi. We met for lunch at Swiss Fondue restaurant specializing in all you can eat dessert, and traded gifts at our table while the girls at the table next to us said "aww, that looks fun". Then we went bowling, strolling, shopping and finally stopping (see what I did there?) off at an elegant one screen theater with couch-like upholstery where we watched The Lovely Bones. It was long, and lame, but just like 2012, having Sachi there next to me made the whole movie seem better. We were still too full for dinner so we took another long walk together and parted ways so she could drive home to Kure. Later she texted me to say her mother was most impressed by the dozen roses I gave her. Bonus points.