Well I’ve had a cold for the last week or so and have been feeling a bit under the weather, but I think it’s pretty much all gone now.
This weekend was fairly uneventful other than today. Yesterday my supervisor attempted to take my to a windsurfing competition. Unfortunately first off the weather was crappy, and then when it got better, there was no wind. No wind == no windsurfing. So he dropped me off back at home and I spent most of the time bumming around, watching movies and the like. I decided to ditch my bed for now by moving it up against the wall and put my futon on the electric carpet to make for a nice warm sleep. Mmmm comfy.
Today I went on the HICE (Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communications and Exchanges, yes it should probably be HFICE but..) bus tour to the most northern part of the Shizuoka prefecture, just before Nagano prefecture. It was really great to get away from the city and in to a nature area, despite the fact that over 65% of the day was spent on the bus.
The whole idea of the tour was to promote international exchange, but I’d say about 75% of the people on the bus were Japanese. Everyone had to do a 自己紹介 (self-introduction) over the bus’s microphone system. I decided to do mine in Japanese just for the practice, and apparently I nailed it because afterwards everyone seemed to think I was almost fluent in Japanese, despite the fact I mentioned I had only been here for 5 months. It was really great socializing with all the new people and I got to practice my Japanese skills a lot, as well as meet some interesting folks. As is typical of everywhere I go, everyone was interested in my photography hobby.
Apart from the Japanese folks, I met a bunch of English speaking people about my age from various parts of the world who are all here on the JET program teaching English. We had a good chat on the bus and went out for dinner afterwards. It was nice to meet up with some other foreigners for once in a while and have a few laughs, not something I get to do too often. I still think one of the most difficult things is to find common ground when it comes to humour with Japanese people.
Anyway, the tour was very enjoyable and I would certainly love to do something like that again. It was great to get away from the cities and drive on some perilous winding roads through the mountains in a giant bus. It seems like EVERY road here is narrow, and sometimes we were only centimeters away from scraping past cars. I think you need to be a highly skilled driver to operate a tour bus in Japan. The nature was nice to see although I would say not quite spectacular. However, having been to some of the places I have, I think my standards are fairly high.