The Vacation That Wasn't, Part 2!
If you haven't already, read Part 1 below first!
So, it's Monday morning. After spending most all day Sunday doing, well, stuff, it's time to get up early and go to basketball practice back in Ono. To get there, we need to take a shortcut that wouldn't cut it as a road in most developed countries, Single lane, mountainous, isolated, rough (but paved), and soon to be underwater as part of a resevoir in parts, it's not exactly Sunday driving, which I am sure to point out to Sugisaki several times. That he is driving it like it's a rally time trial doesn't help things much either. Anyway, normally this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but once we are almost there, at the top of the hill, a strange sound starts to come out from the front left. Yep, we've got a flat.
All that commuting over the months on that rough road has to take a toll, and in fact the tire was completely worn through, all the way through the different layers and metal wires. It's time to change it out for a spare, we're late for basketball. and for the first time, Sugisaki seems to be concerned about the time. Fortunately, he had a jack and a spare, and the tire change went smoothly enough. So, finally we get to school about 15 minutes late, and of course all of the students give Sugisaki crap for his busted tire and dorky-looking spare, all in good fun of course. Then it's time for basketball practice, and we have a full-on session, with lots of running, layup and shooting drills, and 3-on-3 scrimmages. Fortunately, it wasn't too hot in the gym, but after a few hours of that, I was pretty crapped out. So we're sitting outside the gym after practice, and after all that's been going on the past 24 hours, I'm ready to go home and recuperate, and I probably could have just walked home at that point.
But, there was the question of lunch. Sugisaki thought we should grab some food, and I suggested some local places in town, hoping to get just a quick meal, and of course with the spare on the left front of the car, I didn't think it was such a great idea to be driving around so much. but none of those were acceptable. So, and I'm still not sure quite why, but somehow Sugisaki wanted to go see Harajiri Falls, and by this time I'm too dogged and brow-beaten to really have any say in the matter. So, I'm really tired, and in a poor mood, but we drove another good half an hour to Harajiri, and ate gelato there and then walked around the waterfall, which is a very pleasant place, but that's really not the point.
The whole time while trying to figure out what to eat, we ended up calling Mishiro, the former English teacher at Ono JHS. Even though he just got transfered to the elementary school across the street, we really don't seem him that often, so Sugisaki thought we should give him a call since he lives faily close to Harajiri. Anyways, he invited us over for some lunch. Which is all good, but he lived even further away in the mountains almost in Miyazaki prefecture, taking us farther away from Ono. So we drive there through some incredibly isolated roads to get there, and I noticed of course that I still haven't showered after playing basketball, and have I mentioned that we were still driving on the donut spare the whole time?
Fortunately, we made it there in one piece, and after exchanging greetings, we sat down to watch some baseball and eat shika sashimi (that's raw deer meat, but when we ate it is was a little frozen still). Of course, mixed with soy sauce, garlic and green onions, it was quite excellent- don't underestimate Japanese people when it comes to making just about any locally available food really delicious. After that, Sugisaki and Mishiro talked about school stuff for the next few years, fortunately I managed to find a pillow and a coach and caught some Z's.
So, they finished talking, we ate some good food for lunch, it's starting to get a little bit dark outside- definitely time to start heading home, right? Well, not so fast. It's yakiniku time! Back when we all worked together at Ono, it was a semi-regular thing to go out and get yakiniku together. All well and good, except that it was standard practice to totally gorge on the stuff every time out- seriously, I think even some Americans would be shamed by the amount of meat consumed at one of the places. Fortunately, the yakiniku place was on the way to Ono, and maybe just this time I would get to go home afterwards. So the three of us got a family dinner plate, plus lots of extras on the sides, and managed to get it all down without too many problems this time. Mishiro, being the swell guy that he is, sprung for the bill. So in the end it was nice to get some real food, on the other, I was still tired and sweaty and ready to lay down and maybe soak my head.
Now, almost evening and still rolling on the spare, we bid Mishiro goodbye and headed back to Ono. Finally, well over 24 hours having left, it was time to go back home. I thanked Sugisaki for all of the two day's work and trudged upstairs, wondering if I would get a phone call again from Sugisaki needed help from his stranded car after the donut gave out on him. (Apparently, he made it back alright).
So, let's take a look at the postgame. First, it can be a lot of fun to hang out with your Japanese coworkers. You can do a lot of fun stuff, eat some really great food, and develop good relationships. On the other hand, sometimes people won't take no for an answer, and thanks to the whole Japanese thing, you feel obligated to do a lot of stuff that you wouldn't be doing otherwise. So I did spend a lot of time during my long vacation with coworkers, talking mostly about work, and even doing work type stuff at school. I understand that's pretty standard fare for Japanese folks to spend their free time focusing on work, but I really would like some more separation between the two, which is of course the standard American attitude. Well, at least it gave me something to talk about, right?