After Rinku Town, there was no more time to relax. The very next day I was going to a huge elementary school meeting with Judith. After doing my self-intro in front of a ton of staff members (who are always impressed by my Japanese), Judith and I went to the separate English meeting. The meeting itself was run by one of my coworkers who was giving all the other teachers the rundown on what to do. This year English became mandatory for 5th and 6th graders so a lot of the homeroom teachers are flying solo and have no idea how to teach it which makes perfect sense because there is no curriculum! That’s where we come into play. Apparently I can teach whatever the hell i want but I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t even taught at all. Anyways, the entire meeting was conducted in Japanese which I could understand a tiny amount. After that, we went home and changed into something more casual as we were invited to an enkai. For those who don’t know, an enkai is basically a staff party and they’re usually huge. It was bashed into my brain that it would be stupid not to attend an enkai, no matter how expensive they were as it was a great opportunity to socialize with your peers. Japanese people are naturally reserved but they tend to be more laidback during enkais.
This enkai was a combination of two schools–Kitaikeda and Ibukino Elementary, two schools I would be teaching at. We were going to bowl and then eat lots of food afterward. The bowling place is right next to our apartment but even still, the teachers insisted we got picked up. I learned fast that the Japanese are very, very, good at bowling. This one innocent, frail looking lady bowled a damn turkey with ease. One of the funnier moments was when we were all about to begin bowling when I look across and notice this huge Japanese dude. I guessed correctly that he was the P.E. teacher because over here they always look huge and badass. Anyways, we eye each other, waiting to see who bowls first. After a few seconds, we both go at the same time except he decides to back out at the last second. I see this and it throws me off, fucking up my throw. He laughs and I concluded that he is a cool guy. After bowling we went to a fancy restaurant. I sat with my bowling partners which was…okay. They were all fairly old so there wasn’t much to talk about. After awhile, the P.E. teacher comes to my table and just starts chatting with me.
“You may not be Japanese but in Osaka, you are my brother.”
“Are you married?”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“In that case, let me introduce you to the female teachers.” At this point, he drags me out of my table and gives me a glass of ginger ale. We tour the entire room as he introduces each lady to me. They were all very cool, unlike when I first initially met them. They were all probably scared of the gaijin! Also, I was less afraid to approach them when I had more alcohol in me. The P.E.’s teacher drink ended up being pretty spiked so I went from normal to pretty tipsy fast. I had a hilarious connection with one of the ladies because we both liked Japanese history (fedual era) and liked Hideyoshi. She was all “Yeah, Hideyoshi! I like you even more!” as she shakes my hand. After awhile, I go to Judith’s table to check on how she is doing. I end up being her personal translator for about half an hour as we chatted to a guy and a couple of girls. There was a brief instance where I pull out my phone to check the time but it instantly catches the attention of the male teacher.
“Your phone cover…is that Evangelion?”
“Yeah, it is.”
The ladies: “Evangelion? Ehhhhhhh I love Eva!” We then proceeded to geek out about Evangelion, who our favorite characters are, our opinion of the new movies, etc. She seemed nerdier than I am because she was bummed that she was missing the TV premiere of Eva 2.0 since we were at the enkai (on a side note, Eva 3.0’s release month was finally revealed that day!) The girls were also flipping out at Judith’s husband because they kept demanding to meet him and her brother when she showed them pictures. Overall, I had a blast at the enkai. I learned that the more I drink, the more fluid my Japanese is and I’m no longer intimidated. I guess that applies to them as well. Gotta love the liquid courage!
Next time I’ll talk about my first days at work!