Things have been somewhat uneventful lately. My work visa is applied for but I have no idea when I will actually have it.
Zack and I have been semi discussing plans for a wedding. It's really weird that we're engaged, but in a good weird way. I shouldn't be thinking about it until I have a full-time job but I guess the "crazy-I-secretly-love-weddings-and-am-a-princess" part of my brain has been activated. I look at dresses. A lot. Still not sure if I should change my name to Butterfield either...one step at a time.
I've been falling a little behind in my writing the past few days. I think it's because they cut back my hours at work (A LOT) and I'm pretty much back to where I was when I first arrived in Japan, that is, with way too much free time and no structure. Which means that I don't get much done and drink at every opportunity. My company is figuring out which full-time teacher is going to stay on past February. I'm just dealing with the cut hours to get a visa and hopefully find a better job that starts in March. My student loan payments are looming in the near future.
This past Saturday was really awesome. We went on a tour of a ryo-kan, or traditional Japanese inn. We got to wear a yukata, which is like a light kimono that people wear during summer or just to be comfortable at home. I ate some amazing handmade ice cream made from soy flour and honey. The day ended with an awesome lunch and onsen.
It's weird how much more comfortable I am about being naked in front of strangers (all women, mind you). I've even gotten used to the fact that I'm pretty much always the only woman in the room to have tattoos and they will get stared at. (Still don't regret the tattoos, although I'm considering getting the skull covered up with something else one day). It certainly doesn't help that I've lost at least 7 pounds since I've been here (like 3 kilograms). Rarely eating cheese and never eating meat, drinking a ton of green tea every day, and being a pedestrian is the best way to stay in shape, in my opinion. I haven't looked like this since freshman year. But I'm also paler than I've been in a long time. Which is totally normal here. I appreciate living in a place where people aren't encouraged to fry their skin in a cancer box just to have darker skin. Probably another reason why the lifespan is higher here and the cancer rates are half of what they are in good ol' America.
The best part of the ryokan tour was when my former student Hatsue (they gave her class to another teacher) let me wear a really amazing kimono. She dressed me up in it and I walked into the big lunch hall and everyone went "ooh" and "ah." It's apparently a kimono that only a woman who is about to get married can wear. It was pure silk and had really long, traditional sleeves. It is worth about 1 million yen, or roughly $10,000. So I didn't wear it long. It was like trying on a diamond necklace or something. I was honored to wear it, especially since Hatsue's own daughter had worn it before her wedding.
Sadly, I forgot to put a sim card in the camera so I'll have to steal pictures from people where I can.
In the meantime, here's a picture of me with Mieko and Hatsue, my two favorite students:
Mieko works with the English Guide Club in Ina, and they are the ones who planned the ryokan trip. Hatsue owns an amazing restaurant in Ina called Hiromeya that serves traditional Japanese cuisine in a traditional setting.
Saturday ended with dinner and shenanigans with our favorite Japanese party animals, Takae, Tetsuya, and Hidoyuke. We chilled at Hidoyuke's house with everybody's families and drank until the men were drunk enough to take off their shirts and hit each other in the stomachs with a big ass beer bottle (which made me think of the old man tests at 276). Hidoyuke's wife just had a baby about a month ago. She is an adorable baby named Mika. Great night, great food, great friends.
I'm really homesick because I keep seeing Christmas stuff and hearing Christmas music. Bah humbug.