A Nice Visit

As I mentioned awhile back, my friend Andrew paid me a visit for around a week.  We first met up in Tokyo to do some sightseeing as well as go to TGS.  Afterward, he came over to my end of the country to check out the Kansai region. I showed him areas that we weren’t able to visit last year that are a staple for any tourist (Osaka Castle, Dotombori bridge, Nara, etc.) should do if they’re here.  I’ve been to these places a bunch already but I didn’t mind doing it again.

The one area that was new to me was the Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium.  This aquarium is one of the more well-known ones in Japan.  I never got around to visiting it when I first got here and since Andrew loves aquariums, I’d thought it’d be a good idea to visit.

It was a beautiful day out.  I miss the weather back in September (I’m writing this in freezing December).  There was a nice path to the aquarium…the only problems was that there were bees galore:


Outside the aquarium:


Here’s the port area.  I could’ve hung around there for an hour, enjoying the view:


And here are some random pictures of inside the aquarium itself:








One of the more memorable parts of Andrew’s time here was when he paid a visit to my Wednesday school.  Since he wants to be a JET, I thought it would be a good experience to check what the job is like in person.  When we first got to school, my vice principal said to us, “Good morning!  Actually, we’re having an assembly right now so would it be okay for Andrew to introduce himself?”

Us:  “Uhhh, sure.”

“Is Japanese okay?”

“Yeah, I think so…” Before I knew it, we were being escorted to the gymnasium but didn’t enter until Andrew was introduced by the principal.  I had no idea they were going to do this.  The second Andrew stepped in, he got a hearty applause.  It sounded like how an audience full of critics would react after watching a great movie at the Cannes Film Festival.  We were both taken aback.  Andrew did his intro just fine and everyone was amazed.

“So Diego, please introduce him as well!” my vice principal patted my back.

Unaware that I also had to say a few words, I stumbled through my introduction: “Good morning everyone!  This is Andrew.  He’s from Minnesota, like I am.  Umm……he truly, truly is a good friend of mine.”  It was a bit awkward but we all had a good laugh from it.

After the intro, we scurried off to the staff office.    One of the doors was ajar so when the kids were coming back from assembly, they were all looking at us with amazed looks in their eyes with energetic waves.  He was getting the star treatment.  I’ll admit, I was a little jealous—but more nostalgic than anything else. The kids had a similar reaction when I first got to this school.  A year later, everyone is used to my presence.  It’s amazing how fast time flies.

Andrew also helped me teach most of my classes.  He was a big help.  When I was introducing myself to the new first graders, he was drawing pictures of everything I was talking about.  The kids really loved him too, especially his beard.  Everyone was touching it, as if brought good luck or something.  Even Kimoto-sensei, my 6th grade teacher did it.  The Japanese aren’t afraid to get up and personal with you if you let them.  He’s a little bit overweight so some of the kids had a lot of fun rubbing his belly.  They said touching it “felt good”.  Even Kimoto-sensei agreed.  I facepalmed when I saw him rubbing it.

Overall, it was a really fun day at school.  The vice principal even took pictures of us teaching and eating lunch with my 6th graders, then giving us Polaroid copies of it before we left.  My principal told us that she was surprised the children managed to get so close to him in only a matter of hours.  It really surprised me too.

Thanks for visiting Japan once again, Andrew!  I hope you’ll be able to come back here again—but this time, as a JET.



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