At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Thursday, January 3, 2013

All the Holidays (all at once)

January 3rd is basically the last day of winter holidays.  Tomorrow is a planning day at work, in preparation for the last semester of the school year.  This last semester is really comparable to May/June, when all the students are ready for the end of school, and the teachers are required to push through a semesters worth of academic learning in 4 weeks, due to the timing of final exams (at the beginning of February!).  I already know it's going to be hectic, but I also look forward to having a good time with my current 二年生 students.  I really enjoyed teaching them this year.  They were pretty damn adorable.  So I'm going to try my best to make their last semester exciting.  I can't believe how fast time starts to fly the longer you're in Japan (or probably anywhere for that matter..., it's not as if Japan has some sort of light-speed vortex that's unique only to Japan, although who knows).  Recently, I've had dreams about living stateside again (in NYC of all places), so I do believe it may be time to return.  Actually my 初夢 involved me being back in graduate school in a seminar of some sort discussing academic topics.  I have the nerdiest dreams.   

Apart from general merriment, my winter holiday this season was normal.  Before the holidays, my English Club celebrated Xmas with a huge party.  We ate a ton of American sweets, which the students loved, we played games and watched "The Nightmare Before Christmas."  I was so sick during this party unfortunately, but I still had a fun time with the kids.  Once the school break started, it was holiday time.

American sweets for my sweet students

We played "wrap the presents" game

 Most ALTs leave Okinawa and head to exotic places such as Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Korea, etc.  As usual, I didn't travel outside of Okinawa, but I did get to hang out with a ton of travelers who were vacationing in Okinawa.  We went to Sefa-utaki, a very important holy area of Okinawa, Fukushen Gardens in Naha and Shurijo/Shuri Castle.  It was really fun to run around the island to site see.  Often, I forget that I'm on an extended working holiday and that I should be exploring as much of this island as possible.  In my current travel-mode, I bought a ticket to Tokyo for a weekend in January to see my friend Mimi-san, who is co-hosting and performing at a Parisian style salon with live music and art, which I'm really excited about.This means that I'll be eating rice and beans (or the Japanese equivalent) for the next two weeks as I'll be living on very little, but whatever.  I have never seen Tokyo so I just decided to use all the money I had to pay for this ticket.


My friends enjoying sata-andagi and watching the sunset, after our trip to Sefa-utaki.

On Ou-jima in southern Okinawa

One of the last sunsets of 2012

The Chinese Gardens in Naha

Fukushen Gardens - Naha's Chinese Style Gardens

Shuri-jo (the Ryukyu King's Castle)

Christmas was celebrated with my friend Ai-san.  We went to a cafe, exchanged gifts and then went to have dinner.  Christmas is a romantic holiday in Japan, though it seems to be less heavily enforced as such in Okinawa due to the influence of Americans, I believe.  Still, there is the overall mood of it being the date night to end all date nights (akin to Valentine's Day in America).  It is the night that guys bestow very expensive gifts (think diamonds, gold, expensive trinkets, etc) on their girlfriends after taking them out to an expensive restaurant for a very expensive dinner.  Oh and then there is the Christmas Cake (an overpriced strawberry shortcake decorated in the cutest style).  If you don't have a date on Christmas (and you're living thousands of miles away from your home as the majority of 外人 are), then it can be a rather lonely day. When you think about it that way, it seems rather depressing.  The commodification of love.

It's also a good excuse to make Christmas your own holiday.  Which is what we did.  I should also say that it wasn't as lonely as it might have seemed because J. swooped in suddenly to take care of me while I suffered through the flu (starting the week before Xmas). Sweet savior he is, he brought food to help me get well and then gave me my Christmas gift.  This surprised me as he had told me not to expect anything, which I had understood to mean that even though we're quasi-dating, that we're no longer in a relationship. And then after I got better, he took me out on a Christmas-eve dinner date.  I know I'm being naive about this entire arrangement, but I have no clue which direction to go in my romantic life.  I'm hoping this year will bring better things in this realm.  I know I also should just cut the cords between us, but it's hard to do that when he is so nice to me.  It's so confusing. 

So tomorrow it's back to work.  All the holidays are all over.  This year has been way more low key than last "winter holiday extravaganza" in which I tried and managed to overdo Xmas with J. by showering him with Xmas cheer, gifts, xmas cake and even a mini-tree.  It was just too much, though we did have a fun time.  

 Here's to the snake year!  "Let's enjoying 2013!"



  1. Sounds like a great holiday. Have a fun 3rd semester (and one-day work week)!

    1. Thanks! Ben, your website isn't updating in my blog list. I noticed this...I don't know why it's not receiving your updates.