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2010 in Review

Well, another year has come and gone and it is hard to believe that it is already the 4th here in Japan. I am back to the half days of sitting at the Board of Education where they put us in a room of mostly windows and we all feel like a bunch of gold fish as people walk by and occasionally peek their heads in to make sure that none of us jumped ship and left early. Anyway, in keeping with tradition, here is my 2010 in review.

Jun and I went to Tokyo Disney Sea’s Bridal Preview and starting really thinking about picking a date. Besides looking at all the pretty dresses and seeing two that eventually became the ones I ended up picking, we learned that the Civil Ceremony option was definitely not something we were interested in. Sorry chubby fake Italian man, you can greet people at someone else’s wedding. I’ll stick with a traditional Christian ceremony. Jun turned 21, and we went into Tokyo to see the circus that was in town.

First snow of the year and several scary bike rides to work later, I taught my first Valentine’s Day lessons at my elementary schools. It was cute how surprised all my elementary school students were when I told them about how we held Valentine’s Day parties in my elementary schools and were even allowed to eat candy. Feels nice to know that I am teaching them something. Jun and I celebrated our two year anniversary as a couple by, and this is probably obvious, going to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea along with staying at the newly built Tokyo Disneyland Hotel. Starbucks started selling their cherry blossom flavored drinks and Jun got serious about job hunting.

In March, we had more snow and I attending my very first Japanese elementary school graduation where I cried. Students at the elementary school that I could not attend their graduation sang to me and I cried even more. My host sister, An, turned 13 and one of my favorite university professors came out for a visit. March also marked my last visit to the Jr. high school with the crazy teacher who drove my absolutely up the wall with his terrible teaching skills, lower than dirt English skills, and his serious lack of social skills.

Celebrated the cherry blossom season with friends with the traditional picnic at a local temple under the blossoms. I also began working at a new Jr. high school where I finally had a teacher who spoke decent English and encouraged speaking activities in class. The downside? The school is a 40-50 minute bike ride from my home and the principal probably hates me – but he had decided he didn’t like me before I had even arrived at the school. Buttercup also joined our little family after what was probably a very stressful bike ride back to the apartment in a cardboard box

We discovered Buttercup’s dumb side as she tried to stuff way too many things into her mouth at once and that she has a love for sesame sticks. Jun and I went to Tokyo Disney Sea’s Spring Carnival along with Tokyo Disneyland’s new Easter Wonderland theme. I participate in two elementary school Sports Days and Jun and I enjoyed the warm weather.

My elementary school won their basketball tournament against another school and I went to cheer on my host brother, Ryu, at his Saitama Prefecture Cup championship match – they lost, unfortunately. I was given my own classroom at elementary school number two and I began making lots and lots of banana slug related decorations.

Celebrated the Star Festival at Tokyo Disneyland and all chaos broke out when one of the ALTs left to go home. The city refused to hire a new ALT, so everyone’s schedules were going to be switched around. My favorite elementary school’s students all wrote me letter which, thankfully, ended up not being necessary as my placement did not change and instead was granted one more elementary school bringing the total up to three. Jun and I went down to Yamanashi to their second home where there was a reunion of sorts in their cabin in the woods.
Fireworks festivals all over the place, we attended one of the larger ones wearing yukata with friends. I heard about a Harry Potter Countdown event being held in Tokyo and, thinking it was a huge deal, took the day off work to go. Ended up not being all that exciting, so after it was over Jun, my friend Tommy, and I went into Odaiba where we test drove fancy cars. Still, hearing about the event lead me to become the Japan Correspondent to a fantastic Harry Potter website that I am now very active on. I turned 25 and to celebrate we went to Tokyo Disney Sea for their BonFire Dance them that I participated in three times.

In September, school started up again and I found myself in elementary school heaven going 4 out of 5 days a week. That one day of the week where I had to go to Jr. high quickly became my hell day as the summer heat and talking only 10 – 15 minutes of an 8 hour work day tied together with a principal who complained that I arrived at work sweaty from my 40 – 50 minute bike ride. I cheered on my host brother, Ryu, in his final sports day as a Jr high school student, and therefore final sports day ever, and Hikari turned two-years-old. Jun and I went with his family down to Kanazawa again where we pretty much only ate and went to an aquarium.

My very good friend, Hitomi, got married marking my first wedding in Japan and the first wedding I attended of a friend’s. I went to Kawagoe Matsuri with my friends where I stalked a kitty on a leash and at the end of the month, Jun and I had our first fittings for the wedding. I picked out my dresses after thinking about it for a long time and am very happy with my white fairy tale princess gown and my exotic pink-orange-gold dress to wear to the reception. It only took…4 hours to figure out my dresses.

I cosplayed at Jun’s college’s festival to help sell Sri Lankian curry and I started doing a lot of coaching at my elementary schools in preparation for their soccer tournament. The elementary school I got the most involved with ended up winning, both boys and girls, so that was very exciting for me. Jun and I had a meeting at Tokyo Disney Sea, a 4 hour one, to talk about various wedding things, so we decided to spend the morning at Disneyland to enjoy the Christmas Fantasy theme that included a parade with Mickey and Minnie on ice skates! The definite highlight of the month was heading back to the States to visit my family for the first time in three years. There was much Taco Bell eating done and just enjoying being back in a country where I can walk around outside without having to worry about being stared at for looking different.

I arrived back in Japan on the 5th after making the tragic realization that I had left my camera in the States. I am not sure who was more upset about it, myself or my students. We had a really really long meeting of 6 hours where Jun and I made all the decisions about the wedding and began working like crazy on the wedding invitations. At least there are now fewer things to stress about now? For Christmas, Jun and I went to see the musical of Beauty and the Beast which was fantastic and went into Odaiba afterwards. My oldest host brother turned 18. And, to finish off 2010, Jun and I rung in the New Year at a local shrine that is said to have the most spiritual energy in the area. Here’s hoping that things keep looking up in 2011!


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