Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Parties and Testing and Chicken, Oh My!

December here in Japan is already proving to be just as packed with parties, events, and overall stress and rushing, as back home in the States.  This past Friday night was our school's bonenkai, or end of year party for all of the teachers.  As I've mentioned before, we have over 100 teachers at our school, so the celebration is quite huge.

And a huge celebration here just wouldn't be quite the same without some tasty treats that watch you as much as you stare back at them!!  Here is what I sat down to, and I was quite excited indeed:

A good rule of thumb is to be careful where you stick your fingers in this stuff...that fish still had teeth!

The theme of the night, besides the obvious seafood fanfare, was Hokkaido's own hairy crab...and LOTS of it!  I believe the proper term is おいしかったです (DELICIOUS!!!)!

The other word for "sushi" in the States is "bait."  The other word for "sushi" in Japan is "company bonus."

In addition to all you can eat food and drink, as well as some very prominent BINGO prizes, we each received a 500 yen ($5) gift certificate to Seven Eleven, the holy grail of combinis!

After a night 'o partying, however, it was time once again to crack down for my big Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) on Sunday.  Despite coming here with NO prior Japanese knowledge (except for "sushi," "karate," and "domo arigatou, Mister Roboto") I was somehow convinced by some JET-jerks back in August that the JLPT level 4 (lowest level) was soooooooo easy, and that I could TOTALLY pass it after only a few months here and that I NEEDED to pay the 5500 yen (60 bucks) and sign up for it.  That soooooo easy level turned out to be about 100 kanji, 800 vocab words, and pretty much all of the basic grammar points (and there ain't NOTHING basic about basic Japanese grammar)!!

The good news is that it really pushed me to study my butt off, and I have to admit that I have learned quite a bit more than I think I would have without the motivation.

(My friend, Toye, and I on test morning, right before our Mister Donut-last-minute-cram session.)

All-in-all, however, I have the sneaking suspicion of test-failure.  This fact, I believe, was further reinforced on the listening section when I had finished all of the questions, only to hear that there was one more to go.  Still don't know how I pulled off that one.  They make you wait until February to see your score...just enough time for me to forget all about the pain!

Last event of the weekend was our very own party:  "A Very Japanese-y Christmas."  Being slightly obsessed with Japan's strange Christmas "tradition" obsessions of KFC and Christmas cake, we decided to hold our own version of the country's merriment.  Sadly, I discovered that the actual KFC Christmas dinners couldn't be ordered until the 23rd, however, my fabulous Eri made us the best homemade Christmas cakes this side of Tokyo:

The spread, with the Colonel's loving gaze:

What would I do without this man and his incredible salads/foods/general talents?

Hello Kitty Chanmery...a 1% alcoholic Christmas drink.  That's hawt.

Fabulous JET peeps and party-goers!  We've been so lucky to have made such awesome friends since we've been here!

The end of a long, filling weekend...and I think we've only just begun!

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