Christmas came and went again this year. I actually had a proper Western-style Christmas dinner with turkey and mince pies in what had been 2 years, including smidgens of American culture of pumpkin pie. A big group of us gaijins got together and had this big dinner on the night of Christmas Eve. It was a lovely day, and it actually felt like Christmas a little bit. Still didn't beat the Christmas feeling I'd get back home, though.
On the Japanese cultural side of things, New Year is coming, along with the Bounenkai season. I have that tonight my two co-workers in my favourite city in Hokkaido; Sapporo. An all-you-can-eat shabu shabu (i.e. MEAT) for just under 2000yen. Heavenly.
This past month has been a ridiculously busy time for me. I had two orientations, or "business trips" as I like to call them - one in Chiba for 3 days for my actual job, and one in Shiga near Kyoto for 5 days for the Interpreting and Translation course I am currently taking. Both were of course, intellectually satisfying (though interpreting for 5 days straight really wore me out), but all the more better was meeting a lot of wonderful people, visiting Disneyland in Chiba, touring Kyoto and clubbing in Osaka. I loved Kansai so much, in fact, that I've planned a second visit in the middle of January, as I felt that I didn't have enough time to look round Osaka, and also because the clubbing scene there was fantastic, and Sapporo just doesn't do it enough justice. What can I say, I love to
Disneyland was also very exciting even though my friend and I only went for the evening after the orientation, as there was hardly anyone there and we went on ride after ride. I got especially excited over the 'Nightmare Before Christmas' edition of the Haunted House. I decided that I will hold a Nightmare-themed Christmas party next year. One whole year to wait.
The ever beautiful Kyoto was of course picturesque in the Japanese traditional way that it is. As there is so much to see there, I planned my visit ahead, deciding that I will let my stomach lead the way. I went to the area Arashiyama as apparently its well known for its tofu, which I adore, and also soya-milk ice-cream. Both were delish. The shops there were also very adorable, and I was surprised to see a lot of Western-style cafes there, though I do remember hearing that coffee was supposed to be one of Kyoto's recent specialities.
Clubbing in Osaka brought back many good memories of clubbing back home. First of all, I was amused that there was a sign in English at the door of the club which said "If you have evidence that you are a foreigner, you can get in for [insert cheaper entrance fee here] and 2 free drinks". Whipping out my Alien Registration card, it was confirmed legit. It was already a good start to the night. Perhaps it's because the people of kansai and namely Osaka tend to be more out-going, but I almost forgot that I was in a club in Japan. Guys would come and talk to me without being all shy and awkward, people would grab me to dance with me, the people there in general were very into the dancing and jumping around to music which I'd actually heard of (instead of some obscene trance or reggae music that I often hear in clubs in Sapporo). The other amusing thing was most of the guys who did actually come and talk to me would ask if I was Japanese or not. It was nice to know that there were Japanese people out there who didn't jump to assumptions just because the person looks East-Asian. Though there were quite a few non-Japanese there too, such as an Irish (?) guy who was overjoyed at the fact that I could speak English and kept grabbing me each time I went past. No one or nothing particularly sparked my interest, but I admit that it was nice to have all the attention I got there! I also think one of the DJs shook my hand and told me I have to come again next week, though at that point my alcohol tolerance level was failing me, and I'm not sure if I managed to structure a sentence. I was able to find my way back to my hotel, however.
I'm getting fat. Well, I put on weight. Or rather, my body fat percentage has gone up. But I'm really not surprised, seeing as I've been completely dismissing exercise and consuming way too much sugar, carbohydrates and all things wonderfully yummy but frightening in calorie counts. I don't do any silly diets, but I think I'll cut down on the snacks and begin my exercise regime again of DVD aerobics at home. Yes, it may be sad, but it's the only exercise I can do and keep up because I find I enjoy it.
And, as I know no one reads this, or at least, no one who knows me that well, I'll make my confession.
I'm getting my belly button pierced.