Saturday, January 07, 2006

One More Night In Izumo

Day Twelve. My last full day in Shimane before I take off for Okayama.

In other words, my last chance to catch up with folks I hadn't seen yet. (Cue "Flight of the Bumblebee".)

Up and out and on over to Hirose to catch up with Nishikori-san, a friend of mine from my Hakuta days. He is really involved with internationalization activities in the area, and often organizes little get-togethers at his place for foreigners and Japanese alike. Fun guy.

We sat down for a while and talked about the JET Program and some of the problems with it, like how the overall quality of teachers coming in to Japan is getting worse, and how the program is quick to let the good teachers go, folks like Nina. Good conversation.

After that, I was off to Yasugi to catch up with Dan The Man. He's the elementary school teacher in Yasugi, and we've known each other for more than four years now. I thought he was out of town, but I got an e-mail from him saying that the folks at the Yasugi BOE had told him I was in the area and what the hell was I doing not getting in touch with him and some friend you are you big jerk. So I called him up and went on over.

We hung out at his place for a while. I drooled over his collection of Lost and Battlestar Galactica episodes. He laughed at me. We went and grabbed some lunch, and talked about the work situation in Yasugi and what he's got lined up for the future. We picked up his girlfriend at the station, headed back to his place, and then I took off for Yonago.

Over to Cosmo, where I caught up with Shiba and Aya. I gave Shiba some stuff to pass to Kaa-chan, and she asked me to help her with a little something.

The display for the soundtrack to "Walk The Line".

She wanted some suggestions for albums to add to the display, and (according to her) when it comes to Johnny Cash, the person to go to is...me. I said I'd be pleased to help out, but would it be okay if I waited until I got back to Hokkaido and took a look at my Johnny Cash CDs? No problem there.

Then I had to get going, because I had to get back to Matsue, but before that there was one more person in Yonago that I needed to see.

Watanabe-san, the manager of Belier, a live house in Yonago.

That's him and me last summer before I left for parts north.

I saw so many cool shows at Belier. Everything from the most minor local band to bands famous across the land. And as is the case with many shows I go to, I was often the only white guy there. I tend to stick out that way. After a few shows, he started to recognize me, and we would talk a bit. After that, we got to be pretty good friends. Sometimes he would hook me up with the pre-paid ticket price even if it was day of for the show. Hey, 500 yen may not be much, but it's a good deal if you can get it.

Anyway, I headed over to Belier and caught up with Watanabe-san for a few minutes, and then I was off to Matsue to meet up with Rika.

Rika is a student at the Women's Junior College in Matsue. I taught her in an intensive English workshop that I helped out with at the end of last July. She plays volleyball, so she knows Kishimoto Sensei (my teacher), because he's the volleyball coach. Rika's pretty interesting, and she had her dad hook me up with some really good shochu from Miyazaki, her home prefecture. Hooking me up with good shochu, especially good shochu that's hard to get your hands on (like the stuff her dad hooked me up with), makes you very cool in my book.

She had to get to her part-time job, so we decided to meet up for coffee at the coffee shop right next to her place of employment. She seemed to be doing well and was the same goofy girl that I remembered. While we didn't have very long, it was fun to catch up with her. Then she went to work, and I went back to Izumo.

Which is where I caught up with The Don. The Don is from the U.K. (Wimbledon), but he has Italian heritage, so those of us in the Izumo gang always accused him of having mafia ties. Hence the name. The big joke was that if you messed with him, you'd end up wearing cement galoshes and sleeping with the fishes in the Hii River. This is not much of a threat, as most of the water in the river flows underground. There's only a couple of inches of water above ground in the river. Yeah, you wouldn't be able to move, and you'd look really dumb with your feet stuck in a big block of cement, but you wouldn't die.

Anyway, The Don lived in the apartment on the floor below mine while I was in Izumo. Good guy, great attitude. I was going to ask him to come out drinking that night, but as he'd just gotten back from the U.K., I decided to ask him if he wanted to grab some lunch the next day before I took off instead. He was all for it.

Then I had to run out to Teppoya, a restaurant where Yoko and Yushi, a couple of friends of mine, were having dinner. Yoko is the daughter of a couple of teachers I worked with. She's a lot of fun and really enjoys English. Yushi is a policeman I met at a soba restaurant way up in the mountains last March. He struck up a conversation with The Don and I, and when we found out he was getting transferred to Izumo, we traded phone numbers. After he came into town and things calmed down for him, we hung out a couple of times.

I hung out with them and their friend for a bit, having some dinner and talking. And then I had to boogie on over to Izumo Station to meet up with Otaki for my last night out on the town.

I actually ran into Otaki at the teachers' conference the day before, and we decided to go out drinking tonight. I was introduced to Otaki by Jessica, an ALT who worked in Izumo from 2002-2004. He was a part-time English teacher who was working and studying to get his teaching license at the same time. Last March, he quit teaching to focus on his studies, and he asked me to help coach him on his English. So I would mail him essay assignments so that he could get more writing practice in. Then, last October, I got a call from him. "I passed! I'm gonna be a real teacher now!" Right on! "Thanks for all your help, man!" Hey, I didn't do much, and besides, I'm always glad to help out a friend.

I caught up with him at Izumo Station, and then we were off!

Basically, my last night in Daikan-cho was a repeat of the first night out after I came back. First, Otaki and I went over to Eiji's bar, Ri-Way, and had some drinks and food. From there, it was across the street to Aki-chan's place, Juice. After a couple of drinks there, we headed over to Ken's Box. At Ken's (which was, as it is most Saturdays, cigarette-smoke hell), we caught up with Tamura and Jara and drank for a while there. As I had promised Yukki and Minako, I sang the song they told me to practice. Twice.

"Konayuki" is not the easiest song to sing, and in a cigarette-smoke hell like Ken's was that night, you can burn out your voice pretty quickly. Which is what I did.

After a while longer there, we packed up and headed over to Soul to visit with Masaya and Daisuke. I was starting to feel it, as we were on our fourth bar, but I stuck it out, and was able to make it to the last destination of the night, Liberate. Of course, once we hit Liberate, it was game over for yours truly.

After a little bit at Liberate, I walked back as far as the station with Otaki, told him bye, headed back to Lisa's and went to bed.

Not a bad way to finish up a trip back to Izumo, all things considered.

End Day Twelve.

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