Friday, 9 January 2009

Rats out, Oxen in- 2009 Let's Begin! *wave pom-poms*.

Ok, so first off; I guess I owe everyone out there a giant obnoxious all-caps rendering of Happy New Year! (I was remarkably light on the cards this year after all… hey, it saves trees). So, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you’re all coming to terms with the Christmas weight gain, and have dealt with the New Years day hangover (both alcohol and credit-card debt induced).

And to all those native Japanese speakers that I neglected to send New Year cards to (hey, it’s not my cultural tradition… and it saves trees) a big Akemaste Omedeto! I hope you enjoyed your time off from the salaryman/salarygal salt-mines. Now back to work!

This is how they party in Tokyo; with precarious steel cables all round! Sometimes I wonder if the city has such a quaint idea as a 'fire code' in force- there is no evidence so far to suggest this.

So here we are, once more with a brand new shiny year to look forward to, full of hope promise and ‘Yes We Can!’ spirit, and a dusty old year we can hopefully look back on with a sense of satisfaction and pride rather than loathing and disgust.

So, in terms of keeping the public record current, I’m here to present a short sampling of some of the more memorable moments of 2008, as witnessed by this humble soul:

  • New Year 2007-2008, it’s best to start at the start; so when the year of the rat ticked round I was sprinting through a throng of people in Harajuku, Tokyo on the path leading to Meiji shrine, head full of ideas about ‘Hatsumode’ and spending New Year partying with Japanese people in a Japanese way, the clock ticks down, there’s screaming, shouting and general cacophony, and then… cold. And the reality of waiting in a queue for hours to have low-denomination coins likely impact the back of your head sets in. We decided to head back to the pub instead. This year I got things right by just curling up with a pint from the get go.

  • Salarymen in the classroom; I love my shiney new high-school gig, but I firmly believe that the world of the Eikiwa (conversation school) is unrivaled when it comes to quality of soundbites. ‘Sensei, please explain ‘Suck me sideways’, I think Japan should be king of the world, like Toyota’, ‘My wife is a whore, it is bad for our health’, ‘Is Australia big, like the ocean?’ ‘You are a man who is worthy of fine death’ and ‘Does this textbook have sexy pictures?’ Are just a few of the question/comments I fielded in the line of duty.

Also how they party in Tokyo; this shot is from a delightful bar appropriately named 'Sex Trumps'. Yes the word stitched into the nuns habit on the right is the four letter expletive that you think it is. (Read that sentence again and adjust your reality appropriately)
  • Leaving Sasebo; It’s fair to say that my leaving party in Sasebo was possibly the biggest ego-trip a person could imagine; I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over walking into a bar plastered with my own visage and standing on stage singing mangled Backstreet Boys songs for a goodly portion of the night. To everyone involved again, a massive ‘Thank You!’

  • Return to Oz; I’d often wondered during my time away what coming back to Adelaide might feel like, but I know I never visualized being semi-conscious and nauseated. My girlfriend pleaded with me to stay a few extra days, (‘Shaun, you might die’ being her exact words) but in the end she dosed me with Tamago-saki (that’s hot saki with raw eggs dumped in it, uhhh… thanks Mina) and gave me a shoulder to lean on as I staggered to the departure gate. I stopped over at Singapore and blacked-out on some benches; then got back and tumbled into my parents arms. A definite candidate for most horrible aeronautic experience ever.

  • Cultural-reaclimitisation; It’s amazing just how ingrained cultural-behavior and expectation can become; after a year of bowing and ‘arigato gozaimas!’ It’s hard to stop, and I’m sure I weirded out more than a few baristas in the Rundle Mall coffee shops, using a knife and fork again seemed novel, and my house seemed HUGE. In terms of food too, switching from bento-boxes and sushi-platters to plates of steak and pasta was kinda trippy. It’s always strange to be reminded just how much you are a product of where you are, some things never change though; I still tingle whenever I take a bite out of a Tim-Tam (no matter which hemisphere I’m in)

  • Reality-checking; Remember that old TV show ‘Northern Exposure’ about that big-city doctor who got sent up to Alaska kicking and screaming? That kinda what moving to Nogata felt like; I remember riding the train in with my luggage and seeing a giant chain of rice paddies and thinking maybe I should be scoping for Viet-Cong out there; images of having to grow my own vegetables and bartering stuffed koalas for baked goods ran through my head. Lucky for me I’ve got a giga-mall next door and I like the wildlife; now I love Nogata, it’s like the ultimate blend of quiet-living and wanton commercial decadence!

  • Parties, parties, parties; End of year parties are a giant deal for the overworked proletariat the world over, and this year was no exception; there are school parties, private parties, company parties, family parties… and as a minor local celebrity (‘cause of y’know… bein’ foreign and speakin’ English and all) I end up going to a lot of these things, which is fun; but often ends up with your colleagues trying to recruit you to sing old sea-shanties… in Japanese, or your students grandma starts quizzing you about your financial independence, just in case romance is blooming, or your girlfriend’s co-workers giggle manically while trying to embarrass you with poorly phrased ‘risqué’ questions (‘girls… you like?’) Sometimes a guy just wants a beer and some cake!

Who knows what wonders/terrors the year of the Ox/Cow/Water-buffalo/Bison (whatever it is) will hold? Only time, and rampant global governmental spending will tell!

Actual snow, in *my* town; which like all snow looks pretty but is actually cold, wet, slippery and dangerous. Making snowmen is still fun though.

Party like it’s 2009 (‘cause it is),



Danoz said...

well technically the Year of the Oxen only starts today... ;)

Shaun said...

True enough. IF YOU'RE A CHINESE, FIREWORKS LOVING COMMIE! ;P Or... if you're actually correct. *cough*.

Just as long as there's party involved amirite?

Danoz said...

hell yeah! i got to go to 2 new years eve parties this year, twas awesome.

i'm gonna organise it so that i have two birthday parties aswell now, one according to the solar calendar and one according to the lunar calendar.

twice the presents, my plan is flawless!

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