Nonde, nonde nonde!
The first was at Rapporto. We had an opening speech and then speeches from the homeroom teachers of the new graduates. After, I got talking to a lot of the other teachers and found a couple that liked snowboarding so we chatted about our favourite ski-slopes. I also managed to have a decent conversation with the teacher that annoyed me at the last enkai. At the last enkai, this teacher was insistant on practising his English on me, to the point where he would ignore anything I said in Japanese. The trouble was, he was so focused on what he would say in English next, so he never listened to what I said. Not so much a dialogue, more a monologue from him, and a monologue that ended up with him becoming very angry about the US/UK invasion of Iraq and giving me a long accusing stare as if I was personally responsible! But at this enkai, he was a lot calmer and actually listened to what I had to say and we had a nice conversation about the New Year's card I sent to the teachers. For the closing ceremony, all the teacher made a big circle, hands on shoulders, and swayed as they sang the school anthem.
The ni-ji kai, or second party, was at Sabbath. I come hear quite a lot and had Keiko's and David's birthday parties here so I know the owner quite well, so I said ?eHi!' to him as we came in. I think the teachers must have rung an order ahead because we had snacks arriving for use soon aver we where seated. I chatted with another set of teachers and told them about why I like Japan. We'd somehow moved from beer and sake onto wine, and with the mix of drinks I was starting to feel a little worse for wear. So I turned down the offer of a san-ji kai (third party) and went home.
The second enkai was at a place run by one of my student's families. It was strange to see her sat watching TV as the teachers went into the enkai room. This place was a little far from my apartment so I needed drive home after and couldn't drink. This was my first sober enkai, but it was just as much fun and the ?gEh? Nomanai??h (What? You're not drinking??h) reaction from my teachers was quite amusing! I was sat next to a teacher that had left last year and we spent the time catching up on what had happened during the year. In the middle of the enkai, letters from the graduates were read to the third-year homeroom teachers, after which the homeroom teachers gave a speech. We drank a little more, and I did the rounds with the drinks and served wine to the school governers. They where really surprised that I could speak to them in Japanese. At the very end, we had an interesting closing ceremony. The teacher made a circle and sang the school anthem. After that, each of the homeroom teachers were picked up and thrown in the air! Then we made a tunnel for the homeroom teachers to walk through as they left the enkai room. There was a ni-ji kai, but I decided to not to go and gave a lift to a teacher back to Tokamachi.
The third enkai was last night for one of my visit schools. With the recent heavy snow, the traffic was very slow so I was late fr the start of the enkai, but everyone assured me it was okay even if I did keep apologising. It was great to find two teachers who left last month return for this enkai, and an even bigger surprise to find out that one of them will be teaching with me at this school in April. So, we drank and we eat and we chatted. The enkai closed with ?eippon' or ?eOne Clap', but the teacher leading it went too early before the rest of use was ready. Everyone started laughing and I though that the leading teacher messed it up on purpose as a joke. I found out at the ni-ji kai that he was serious and genuinely made a mistake, so I felt a bit sorry for him.
The ni-ji kai was at Hanada, one of the newer sushi places in Tokamachi. The owners did have a shop on Honcho, but the building because unsafe after the earthquake and they had to close. This new shop is close to Tokamachi station. The sushi we ordered was amazing, easily some of the best sushi I've had in Japan. Some of the other teachers cried out ?gUmai!?h (?gfantastic!?h), just like the celebraties do on TV food programs, so I guess they liked it too. I think I'll have to come back to this place.
So I guess that's enkai season over for now. Actually, there will probably be another round of enkais for the new school year in April, as well as enkais for teachers who are changing schools. But until then, I'll brush up on some more phrases I can use on the teachers!