Last weekend was one of the quieter ones I've had in Japan so far, but was still full of new experiences - my first izakaya, my first sushi train in Japan, and my first typhoon.
I spent all of Friday in Wakayama city for our new JET orientation session.
Getting a re-entry permit was my first experience of overly beauracratic Japan. You couldn't just pay for the re-entry permit at the immigration office, you had to go to this little store first and buy a $A70 stamp and put that on your application. Then when filling out the form for the re-entry permit, you have to write something down for what countries you will be visiting when you next leave the country, and the expected dates of travel. So if you haven't planned any trips, you just make something up, and put this on the official form.
I'd expected Japan to be really overly beauracratic after I read Atomic Sushi, but this was the first real red tape I'd experienced in my six weeks here. Of course, I may just be oblivious to it as I don't understand what's going on a lot of the time!
Friday lunch was at a Japanese sushi train restaurant. I loved the salmon and cheese sushi, the salmon and basil sushi and the sweet potato chips. It was cheap too, about $A8 for a filling lunch. There's a lot of really reasonably priced Japanese food here, whereas Western food can be really expensive - a take-away pizza place was charging nearly $A50 for a large pizza!
After orientation, I hit the foreign food section of the department store and spent way too much money on Danish blue cheese and Australian cheddar. I'm so happy to have a source of blue cheese and am happy to pay through the nose for it! My local supermarket does have cheese, but it's mainly camembert, soft cheese and 'plastic' cheese.
Dinner was with the other JETs at a local izakaya called Otoko wa Tsurai yo - 'It's tough being a man', which was named after a Japanese film series. I'd never been to an izakaya before. We paid about $A35 for an hour and a half of all-you-can-drink and a lot of food - sashimi, endame, noodles, salad, dessert tofu and more.
As is often the case when hanging out with the other JETs, we then went to Karaoke. I don't mind Karaoke in small doses. It's kind of expensive for what it is though. Next time I'll try to get more into the spirit of things. Espeically as my prefecture has it's own song - the Wakayama love song!
The rain that lasted and lasted and was setting in when I caught the last train home. I was lucky - many JETs living further south had their trains cancelled due to the typhoon.
On Saturday the storms continued all day long, so I stayed inside the whole day, and watched Bridesmaids and Whip It. I love seeing strong female characters in female-driven movies. I loved that Bridesmaids had so many funny women in it as the main characters, not the girlfriends. And I loved that in Whip It the boyfriend storyline was just a sideline to the main one of Bliss's journey towards independence and finding herself.
The typhoon here was pretty bad further south. Dozens died, and there were mudslides and flooding, collapsed bridges and overflowing rivers. My town is in the north of the region and thankfully we just had heavy rains and winds.
On Sunday I enjoyed my last day living by myself before my boyfriend arrived in the evening. I'm glad he's here. Things seem somehow easier to handle with someone else to figure them out with!