I was not excited to wake up before 6:30 a.m.
I had to meet up with the Port Promotion Bureau folks and welcome the 1,200 British passengers off a 45,000 ton cruise ship called "Artemis" at 7:45, in a suit. Since I took the last week off to go to Hokkaido, I was too exhausted Saturday to go to the Snowboard World Cup in Hiroshima I had been anxiously anticipating, and spent the day sleeping and doing laundry instead. This meant that Sunday morning, after donning my suit, I rode my bicycle to the International Center (which was still closed), and let myself in to the dark and lonely office to print out the speeches I'd be giving at the welcome ceremony that afternoon.
I managed to catch a street car from there to the port, on time, and say good morning. It had been almost a year since the last time I had gone there for a job like this, but I have done it so many times that I was very relaxed, almost to the point of being nonplussed. All of my co-workers (from various different government divisions) were all first-timers though, and so between changing money and helping directions into town and the occasional computer problem (there were a few PCs set up with the ever-coveted internet access), there was a whole lot to do in the A.M. so we got to know one another and shared small talk as tour buses shuttled the passengers to and fro by the dozens.
As I started to walk away I was greeted by who else, but Morikawa-san, my supervisor at the kencho, and her husband whom in two and a half years of working together I had still never met. Not only that, her sister and sister's husband where also there! They came to grill some fresh oysters for lunch and invited me to join them, their treat! We had a great time, talking, admiring the enormous cruise ship berthed behind us, and grilling and eating Hiroshima's famed oysters, along with scallops, turban shells, and some fried rice. I felt bad about being treated to all this great food so I ran back to the food stalls and picked up a pack of strawberries to share for dessert. Then I said my farewell and went back to the information center.
|Turban Shells (サザエ) look awful, it's true, but they are good!|
|What a great set-up, no?|
After a couple more hours helping out passengers, it was time to gather everyone who was going on board for the welcome ceremony. We lined up at the security desk at the base of the gangway and i translated while everyone traded their I.D.s for passes to get on-board. There were also 10 young women from the Hiroshima municipal firefighter's band with us who would be performing for the passengers at the ceremony, but apparently everyone EXCEPT security knew about this, and we were severely delayed getting on board. By the time everyone was in the performance room, set up, and ready to go, we were half an hour behind, which was terrible because we also had to be OFF the ship in time for them to begin their departure prep for their next leg to Korea.
"Okay, we'll just cut the Japanese MC"... said THE JAPANESE MC. He's a laid back dude, I had done this with many times the previous year and he always joked that I should do it myself. This time though, he wasn't joking. So right then and there, I had to grab a mic, pretending like we had planned for this all along, and set in front of a standing-room-only theater of about 500 passengers, and MC the entire thing, based off the script I had prepared that morning as a translation of what he was meant to have said in Japanese first. In terms of the words coming out of my mouth, this was not much different, I just didn't have to wait for him to say it in Japanese, but the reality of the situation was I was no longer standing off to one side speaking calmly into a mic, but stood front and center and engage the crowd. And may I just say: *Nailed it!*
|This is the only photo I had time to take, because I was busy MCing!|
After the band finished performing the ceremony was over and we all got off the ship and waved goodbye. An awesome end to a day's work, I thought...but it didn't end there.
|Baked mac&cheese = Heaven|
"We were part of yesterdays tournament" said the girl who turned out to be Marion Kreiner - Austrian Vancouver Winter Olympics bronze medalist. What?!? Wait... no... I thought, and as the reality of the situation sunk in around me... "So she's (pointing to the only young Japanese woman in the room) Takeuchi-san??" I asked slowly. "Yeah, Tomokaaaa"Marion called and the next thing I knew I was chatting with ANOTHER Olympic medalist and the spokeswoman for the event I had missed the day before, and of course, getting our picture taken!
|Warren, Tomoka, and her uncle, a long-time resident of Hiroshima and cool dude.|
I had the next day off (thank god) so i stuck around for a few more hours, drinking and chatting with all of them, including Swiss snowboarding Gold medalist and all-around nice guy Simon Schoch, and got all of them to sign a post card from the Artemis which I then mailed (in an envelope, duh) to my brother. It was truly a day AND night to remember.
|Everything you need to know about Doris Günther|