Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Changing Seasons of Toyama.

Another two weeks have passed and another two weekends with that. Last weekend was a boys weekend in Tokyo. Jake, Max and I, and our respective Tokyo friends had a blast in cool clubs and cheap bars. The weekend was such a whirlwind tour I didn't even take a single picture. So just imagine drunk, sweaty and grinning on a dance floor instead.

On Sunday we heard there was to be an international dance festival in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park in the afternoon. Yawn. International dance festival? I can see people doing traditional Japanese/Chinese/Mongolian dance in Toyama. In Toyama, I can do it. Was I in for a surprise. The problem is that the word 'international' has been corrupted by Toyama. This is because so many local events in Toyama add the moniker 'international' to drum up interest in boring events, that I usually end up being part of anyway. Well, we went to Yoyogi Park anyway because we didn't have anything better to do.

The first thing I noticed was the fat bass. It did not sound like the bass line of Japanese folk music. It sounded like the fat bass line of something I wanted to be part of. It was in fact, quite simply, international dance music and was absolutely incredible. On Sunday afternoon, completely sober and on a combined total weekend sleep time of about 4 hours, I danced like a maniac with several hundred people from all around the world. Quite a different experience from going to a bar or house party in Toyama.

Everyone was young, attractive and smiling. Happy people were living and enjoying their lives. This was Tokyo. This event showed me how much life and youth Toyama just doesn't have, and pretty much right then and there Max, Jake and I all decided to live in Tokyo forever. We very nearly didn't leave that day, but that was more to do with time management skills than spontaneously giving up our country side teaching lives.

Once I got back to Toyama, I continued to contemplate this move, while relaxing in a natural hot spring, after a couple of hours of exercise, at my local wellness resort that I could never afford to be a member of in Tokyo. I realised that actually, life here is pretty good too. Maybe it's slower and more sensible, but at least one can afford to be healthy and happy.

For example, the weekend just passed was a fun house party, a classy birthday party and a wild ultimate fighting event. Maybe it's not Tokyo, but there's still a lot going on. It definitely feels like the party season. And of course the snowboarding season is right around the corner. Get ready folks, if you thought the party season was fun, just wait until the snowboard season starts.

Anyway, I'm still thinking about next year. It's a big world. There are lots of challenges and fun things to do just about everywhere. Snowboard instructor in New Zealand or property hot shot in Hong Kong? There's always another year on JET..

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Brain: Uncovered

I haven't had much time for a blog entry recently, but I decided a bad entry was better than no entry at all, so here we are. No jokes, no anecdotes, just info. To fill you in on the fun stuff first, the Halloween JET party was a blast. Best party ever. I think the main reason I loved it was because everyone loved my costume. I didn't know being a sumo was so much fun! And there I was thinking it was all high cholesterol and constipation, but no, being a sumo means dancing all night and winning a bottle of Jack Daniels for looking so cool. By the way, has anyone seen it? I can't remember where I put my "best male costume 2006" prize. Oh did I mention I won "best male costume 2006"? Well I guess I should mention it now. I won "best male costume 2006". For the sumo suit. Because it was ace (thanks mum!).

Anyway the late night was followed by an early morning and a School Festival, featuring bird on a stick, meat in a pot, japanese crepes, various robots and mechanical things, a quite good horror house, a terrible band and exploding sugar puffs. Hanging out with the students out side of class was great, the sun was shining and I was happy. It was nearly worth having no sleep for.

My excellent school band. But look, I go to a technical high school ok? I should have taken more pictures of all the actually impressive robots, but I didn't, I took a video of this. So just listen and shut up ok?

The weekend just passed was a long one. Thursday night was dinner with Jamie, entrepreneur, and Kumiko, his long suffering girlfriend, for her birthday. I find Jamie inspiring. While the rest of us ALTs (assistant language teachers) are out here just teaching English, he's setting up his own English school.

I think he's the only person out here who knows what he wants, and is doing something about getting it. As the winesoaked budda says in his blog, this Japan thing is just a kind of Neverland for the rest of us. But it's not that we don't want to grow up, it's that we don't know what to do now that we have.

It's nearly time to decide if I want to stay for another year. I've always said this was a two year gig for me, but with things going so well, it's making it hard to decide. Have a look at my list.

The Pros and Cons of staying one more year on JET.

  • International community of friends. Despite the homogeneous society surrounding me, I have friends from all around the world. Never underestimate diversity, there is a lot to be learned from people who have grown up in different conditions from yourself, and I'm learning a lot from them.
  • JET is the best organisation to be with for teaching English in Japan. Others exist, but they pay less and do not have the same social networks.
  • Time. I have it, and I'm using it constructively. I don't watch more than 2 hours of TV or films a week now. I'm either working, exercising, learning, reading or communicating. Maybe a little partying but that's important too.
  • Money. I have it. Not a lot, but one more year given the new budgeting skills I'm currently developing could see a lot go into my savings.
  • Fun Job. You get out what you put in.
  • What's better than JET? If I return, what is better? What would make me more happy or successful?
  • Still Learning. Everyday my hunger for knowledge is increasing, and I have the time to feed it. I want to learn more about money, politics, the environment, philosophy, economics etc. Why move when I'm still learning/able to learn about things here.
  • Japan is fun, cool, interesting and a good base for travelling round Asia. And it's where my girlfriend lives.
  • I don't have to be on JET to have international friends or to be in Japan. And on JET, you can't move to a big city if you fancy a change. There are other opportunities in Japan, I just have to find them.
  • Time is money. I could be learning useful skills in a different job or further education. Skills which could be converted into cold hard cash. This appeals to me. Property and real estate are beckoning. I wonder what's it's like being an estate agent?
  • Money. I want more.
  • Easy Job. You get out what you put in.
  • Procrastination. What difference is staying another year going to make. I would still have to make the same choices, but I would be a year behind on my path to success.
  • Life on hold. All those things I told myself I'd do when I got home, wouldn't be done for another year.
  • Losing touch with reality, and people. Three years away from home, and you can't really call it home any more. One might start to slip into a drifting mind set, not willing to settle down anywhere, with anyone, ever.
  • Stifling creativity. When you get comfortable, you stop thinking. My brother quit his job to realise his entrepreneurial dreams, so did Jamie. The fear helps you find new ways to make money.
So what is better than JET? If I stay for another year, will I bother to find out? I'm not going to work for a company for 40 years, that's for sure. Retire by the time I'm 40, that's the goal. That only gives me 15 years to become rich beyond my wildest dreams. Better get cracking then. Any ideas?

I started off this blog with the intention of filling you in on my weekends. It appears something more important was weighing on my subconscious mind.

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