Every year school does an end of the year party, 忘年会 (bounenkai). My base school goes on a trip every other year. This year happened to be a trip year.
The place voted on was Kobe, a five hour trip away from our little town of Yanai. Long, but worth it. Early morning on Saturday I walked my way to school like it was a week day to be loaded onto a bus instead of sitting at my desk in the office.
The party would start from the opening of the first drink to last person to get off the bus Sunday night.
The trip was a whole new experience for me. I have gone on plenty of school trips, and college road trips with friends. But this trip was like a school trip for adults. It was busy but fun. Time was limited for site seeing but we did what we could with what we had been given.
Memories From the Trip
Before the trip Sumi and I asked a fellow teacher what we should do during the three hours of free time we had been given. They suggested Harbor Land (神戸ハーバーランド), a shopping/amusement area.
A small group of four, myself included, found our way to the area. Once there we took in all the sights and sounds. We shopped, ate cake, and chatted over coffee. It was something simple but I will remember it for a long time.
The Kobe Luminary Lights (神戸ルミナリエ) will also stick with me. Over dinner YN sensei (Not NY from ALT Office Life – The Winter Lover) an English teacher for this year’s third year class, talked to me about the event. Sumi and I had already decided to go and I had been giddy with excitement to see them. You see I had assumed this was the closest thing to “Christmas lights” as I was going to get but I had no idea of the deeper meaning behind it all.
YN sensei told me about a huge earthquake that hit the area back in 1995. I was about four years old at the time and living in the states. He spoke of how disastrous it had been and that many people had lost their lives. This luminary is in memory of that disaster and the people who suffered because of it. It has been held every December since that very year.
The last day of the trip we would go to a comedy show. It had a lot of well know comedians in Japan that I could recognized from TV. Many I didn’t know but still had been able to laugh at their silly antics.
During most of the skits and performances I had a hard time understanding all of what was being said. Regardless I will remember the experience because I was still giggling along and following to most of what was being said. To me that is a big step from where I was over a year ago when I first came to Japan.