Conversation Classes and the Shortest Enkai Ever

I’ve recently started holding conversation classes at the behest of some of the village’s parents and friends, which have turned out remarkably better than I’d initially expected. The classes range in number from 5-10, depending on who feels like speaking English on the given night (normally once a week.) The ability varies from beginner to pretty-decent, which really works to my favour as I often have to lean on the village vetinarian, whose English is very good, for help translating the tricky Japanese that some might not understand. Topics range from personal heroes to what’s for dinner and last just one hour. I’d made certain that everyone understood that this is just a very relaxed conversation class, as I do not have the Japanese capacity to do a full on evening class like my predecessor. The relaxed environment works well I think, and I find I enjoy the classes a lot more than I’d expected.

It’s also a great way to learn about Japanese history, culture and the various family shenanigans going on in the village. Being intensely interested in at least the first two, this is a good thing! In all I kinda wish I’d started it sooner, as the classes only began two months ago or so, but I never really thought it’d be feasible. I have no idea if much English is learned, but it’s at least more English spoken than they would otherwise have had without.

I’m still of two minds about leaving Japan, as I would dearly LOVE to stay. But I’ve pretty much summed up the reasons for staying vs going as the following:


  • I  love the village, the kids and rural Hokkaido
  • I have a good standard of living.
  • It’s comfy


  • I promised myself that, no matter how awesome, I’d limit this working holiday to just one year.
  • It gets seriously lonely living inside your head for a year
  • I’d rather start my Masters while I still have some shred of intellectual capacity remaining.

There are lots of other reasons on both sides of course, but basically staying simply because it’s a cushy lifestyle is no reason at all to stay. I could work as an independent ALT in a larger city or somesuch, but I find I generally loathe the JET community and their incestuous uppity-ness. It’s mostly my fault, as I’ve long-since become used to the politically-incorrect clan of savages I call my friends back in SA, and in turn that means I can barely function in polite, insincere company. I’m a snob, but reversely so, I suppose.

Ultimately then I must move on in order to continue growing. As long as I’m furthering myself in some aspect each year I’ll be happy. JET is certainly no career path, but if I’d theoretically stayed another year, I’d need something to make it worthwhile. Perhaps I’d study Japanese properly, or take a martial art, or both. Who knows.

This bitter-sweet sentiment is probably a good thing though. I’d hate to leave a bitter and jaded old salt, cursing Japan and its inhabitants, rather than accepting their unique eccentricities for what they are and enjoying them while it lasts.

Enough angsty maudlin! I don’t write on this blog as a pity-party, damnit! On to more important things: The enkai…

An enkai is basically just a work-related party, normally at a restaurant or somesuch. Last Friday we had just such an event in Hamatonbetsu to welcome in the new teachers. The 30 minute bus ride came with beer, which was nice, so by the time we got to the actual establishment, myself and the science teacher had already made a good dent on our sobriety. The food was some of the best I’ve had while here in Japan, and one can really see that the ships are back out in the ocean hauling in fresh fish. There was sashimi of various types, including scallop, salmon and shrimp, as well as a whole array of cooked meats and spiced things, including pies! Mygods! Real pies! Not those sweetened cherry and blueberry abominations the Amerkins love so much, but proper meaty pies! They were quite small, it being Japan and all, but it tasted just like a normal steak or lamb pasty. Also there were lots, so I might have scoffed down quite a few while the going was good.

Dessert was cake and an odd sesame seed pudding which wasn’t bad at all, complemented with beer, of course! Unfortunately the whole affair lasted all of one and a half hours, as the booze bus taking us back had to leave at 9pm for some godforsaken reason. I was sad, especially considering the price for this whole thing. The food was great and the drinks flowing, but gees! One and a half hours?!?! Come on!

The weekend itself was uneventful, other than playing a soccer game against the students with some older kids and parents, and a trip to Wakkanai to get some decent groceries (I found pizza and imported ice cream!)

No new pictures this week, unfortunately! Maybe next time!

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1 Comment

  • […] prepared to sacrifice years of your life: I went to Japan, and then spent many months having my brain turn slowly to mush. God only knows what folks do there if they spend several years […]

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