Monday, September 1, 2008

Jam Packed Weekends

Weekends have been busy since coming back from Canada.

Last Saturday, August 23rd, Allie, Aaron, Bryan and I drove to Akita Prefecture for the big national fireworks competition in Omagari. (See my Facebook pictures here.) Thankfully Joe and Sam also went, so we were able to follow them. Before going into Omagari, we stopped and set up tents up a camp site at Lake Tazawa. Then it was to the train station and Omagari.

Even though it was raining pretty hard up to the start of the fireworks, it lightened up once they got going, so it was bearable (if not the best weather). I didn't take a lot of pictures, so I don't really have anything to show you how amazing the fireworks were, but believe, the were totally awesome.

When we got back to the camp site, everyone else wanted to stay up and drink in the tents, so I decided to sleep in my car. It ended up being the right choice since the 1000 yen tent Allie had picked up at the Hard-Off (big used store in Towada) wasn't particularly water resistant and ended up letting in a lot of water.

Sunday was just driving back.

Then this past Friday we had a one week delayed Payday Friday where I finally got to meet the new Shichinohe ALTs (due to various circumstances I ended up being their "official" Big Sister, even though I wasn't around for their arrival and Courtney is their de facto Big Sister), among others.

Even though we had 17 people at the brewery, only 9 made it out to Pilsen's and Festa. But the small numbers didn't diminish the karaoke enthusiasm by any means... (See my Facebook pictures here.)

On Saturday I had to wake up early to catch the bus going from Kirita to Iwate for the PTA arranged trip to the Morioka Handiworks Square. I had paid for the trip in mid-July, and had actually nearly forgotten about it until Tomabechi-sensei reminded me at school during the week! Anyway, it turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected!

We arrived in Morioka around 11am and the first thing we did was make reimen for lunch. It was fun and delicious! Then we had some time before our pre-selected handicraft workshops, so we walked around the various shops. During that time, I made my own senbei (all I had to do was roll out the dough and turn the grilling thing) for 100 yen.

The workshop I selected was pottery, so I got to make a small plate (I could have made a cup or bowl, but figured the plate looked easiest). Unfortunately I didn't think to bring a design reference (I wanted to do Totoro but didn't want to screw up my plate with an ugly design), so I ended up drawing Doraemon from a sample they had there. I thought the unbaked piece looked pretty good, so hopefully it will turn out OK. (Since it takes time to bake, they'll send the finished pottery to the school.)

Then we had a little more time before heading home, so Tomabechi-sensei and I tried the Nanjera?--senbei ice cream sandwiches! It was OK, but I prefer cones, I think. (See my pictures of the day here.)

Sunday I got up early-ish so I could go to the travel agent and book my trip to...Hong Kong!! Yes, I'll be going for the October long weekend (11-13). Of course, with the amount of time it takes for me to get from Aomori (Prefecture) to Tokyo, then from Tokyo to Hong Kong, I only actually have two full days in HK, but I think it'll still be a great trip. I'll be staying with family friends whom I haven't seen since I was maybe in elementary school (although I guess they may have come back to Canada for a visit once when I was in junior high or high school?), so I'm looking forward to seeing them.

Anyway, after booking the plane and train tickets, I cleaned a tiny bit at home and started some laundry. Then I went by Andy and Rie's place to drop something off and stayed for a bit to have tea and cake and to chat.

At 3pm Tomabechi-sensei picked me up at the Max Value to go to a small local festival near her house. It had been raining all day, and even though the forecast said it would clear up by 3pm, it ended up raining through the rest of the day. But all the participants (dancers and taiko players) just soldiered on through the rain. (See my pictures of the festival here.) After the festival, I was invited to Tomabechi-sensei's house for dinner. They had a TON of food and a lot of family members gathered there, but both Tomabechi-sensei and I were pretty tired, so we were pretty quiet.

When I got home I did more laundry, took a shower, and started watching "The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi" (a great anime series, by the way!).

And that was it for my busy weekends, so far. This weekend also looks to be pretty busy with the Shichinohe Welcome Party (for new ALTs) and the taiko dress rehearsal the next day.