Recently I went on a two-day trip to Hyogo with a few of my coworkers at my Wednesday school. My Wednesday school is the school I usually do events with, such as farewell parties and most famously known (to me at least) for having one of the most craziest enkais I have been to. The people I was going to be traveling with was the vice principal, Kimoto-sensei, Kanatani-sensei (who plays drums for a band I watched ages ago and the math teacher, Tanaka-sensei.
Before that, I offered to teach English during sankan. Sankan is basically Parent’s Day/Open House back home, where parents visit their school and watch their kid’s classes. Sankan was going to take place on a Sunday which is very rare for a school to do. My coworkers felt bad that I was going to come but honestly, A)This school is always fun to teach and B) I was going to be leaving with some of the teachers later that day anyways. As expected, the class was a breeze to teach. Although I was not going to be paid for coming to teach (which was fine by me), the vice principal basically shoved an envelope of money at me, thanking me for going out of my way to teach on a day off.
Kimoto-sensei was very excited about his new camera he had just purchased the day before the trip. While teachers were discussing the results of Sunday’s sankan he was taking random pictures of things. He even began to sneakily take photos of our coworkers and would say their names in English. “Mr. Tanaka. Yes! Miss Maeda….no! Vice principal…yes!” He could barely hold his laughter and some of the awkward photos he took. He really is a dork.
After class ended, we all got on Kanatani’s sensei’s car and were on our way to Hyogo. By car, it probably takes around 3 hours and half to get there. Kimoto, Tanaka and I began to play shiritori using specific subjects. Shiritori is a word-chain game; you are supposed to say a word that starts with the same vowel as the previous word’s ending vowel. So for example, I would start with ringo (apple), the next person could say gorilla. You can’t end the word with an n though, otherwise you lose. Shiritori is insanely difficult for me already so you can imagine how hard it was when we were limited to a certain subject. I would lose really fast. The batsu games (punishment games) Kimoto made me do were really silly. I would either have to say the previous word in either a loud or quiet voice. He would burst into laughter afterwards every time. I turned the tables when I suggest we play the game in English. Tanaka and Kimoto lost as fast as I did. It reminded me of playing road trip games with my family when I was a kid.:
Before we knew it, we were in Hyogo. We were staying at a ryokan (Japanese inn) by the sea, which was nice. It wasn’t a fancy ryokan though, which most people seem to imagine when they hear the word. We all shared a room and there was a communal onsen. We all took a bath first; oddly enough, this wasn’t my first time going to an onsen together with my coworkers at this school. I find it weird to be chatting with people you work with butt naked. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this, maybe onsens aren’t for me. They do feel really nice though.
Next up was the main event of today; eating fresh crab for dinner! It was nothing short of amazing. The amount of food was endless and delicious. We idly chatted about random things like English translations of things, school life, etc. A running gag was Kimoto and my vice principal giving me the body of the crab to eat when I said I like it. “Ah Diego, boh-dee, boh-dee” they would exclaim as they passed me body after body of crab:
I also got some insider information about the next school year. Sadly Kimoto will not be staying; he has been at that school for six years already and just like with Aiko-sensei a transfer was inevitable. One more teacher will be transferring out but I’m not exactly sure who. Kimoto is betting on Chika-sensei which I really hope doesn’t happen as she is one of my favorite new teachers. Why do people that I bond with transfer out right away? Meh. I guess I’ll find out more as the month goes on.
After a delicious dinner, we went upstairs to drink and play mahjong. I have never played mahjong before but that didn’t stop my coworkers from trying to teach me. Learning how to do anything with Kanatani showing you (who speaks super fast combined with Osaka dialect) was a challenge to say the least. Eventually I got the hang of it but still was missing some critical rules/tips. Luckily Tanaka-sensei was there to help me out. Compared to the old math teacher, he’s a shy guy but seems pretty friendly. In the end, I won two games and ranked 4th out of the five of us. At least I wasn’t dead last!:
We went to bed really late and got up at 8 in the morning. After eating breakfast (Japanese-style), we were off. Originally we were going to go to the ruins of Takeda castle but since it was raining heavily, it wasn’t going to happen. This really bummed me out because I really wanted to check it out; people were claiming it to be Japan’s Macchu Picchu. Instead, we went to Izushi to sightsee.
Izushi is a tiny, traditional town in Hyogo. It reminded me of Kyoto because it wasn’t modernized at all. We walked for a bit and checked out some famous landmarks, like the Shinkoro, a famous clock tower.
Afterwards, we went to eat Izushi soba. Izushi is apparently famous for its soba. I’m not a soba fan but I could tell it was very delicious compared to your average soba dish:
After Izushi, we headed back home in the rain. We all mostly slept on the way back so the road trip home was uneventful. Although it was a little expensive, I was glad that I went on a trip with my coworkers. It might be the last one for some of them and I got to see/experience things that I wouldn’t have. Plus, it was good Japanese practice! I hope I can do this again with them sometime.