Whew, another busy weekend come and gone. So, first order of business: I updated my flickr feed with more pictures. I updated to a paid account, so I am making sets of photos, for easier perusal. There’s plenty of pics that don’t fit in the sets, though, so check it out.

So I mentioned last time that we were having some weather problems. I believe my phrasing was something along the lines of “I f-ing hate typhoons.” Well, the weather really put the screws to the festival I’d been working on for the past three weeks, cancelling it entirely on Saturday, and pushing everything to Sunday. It was lots of fun (look at the photos!), but more on that in a bit. First, Saturday.

Given a magical extra day of freedom, I decided to go into Tokyo to get a haircut, do a bit of shopping, get a halloween costume, and whatnot. Well, this all went well at first — I decided to splurge and go to a real hair stylist, as the other Ryugasaki JETs were doing. While the price (6000 yen) was a bit steep, it did include a very relaxing scalp massage, with the added bonus of being able to talk to the stylist in English. He really liked my hair, saying it was very soft and that I could be a hair model (to which my friend Ananda, currently working as a hair model in Tokyo, chortled, “I told you so!”).

However, for all the pros, there was one major con: I walked out of there with a haircut that was half “Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber”, and half “Plastic He-Man Action Figure.” It was pretty terrible. I have one picture, which I grudgingly will put online, that you all may have a good laugh. I got the gel out of my hair and it looks normal now, but I spent a good 8 hours with bangs. Shudder.

After that, I spent some time hanging with Ananda, wandering about Shibuya. We went to a store called Condomania, which was pretty much what we expected. We also managed to find a 5-story tall Sega arcade, which had not a single DDR machine.
We were supposed to meet up with either of two groups of friends, both of whom proved to be insanely difficult to get in touch with (one girl apparently drunkenly dropped her phone in a toilet). In the end, I barely made it back on the last train to Ryugasaki, because trains were getting cancelled left and right due to the gale-force winds. All in all, kind of a crap day.

Next day was sunny, so we headed up to the the Daisuki Ibaraki (“I Love Ibaraki”) festival. The JETs descended there in force, manning around half the international booths. I was running the America booth, which was 3 times larger than any of the other booths. Tragically, our consulate seemed to have about 1/3rd the stuff to send to us as the other countries, so our booth looked a touch anemic. Lots of flags. We looked very patriotic, although none of us really are. Being the American with the best Japanese skills, I ended up fielding a lot of the visitors, all of whom ended up talking about travel across Asia. In the end, it was a great time, I saw lots of awesome street performers, had some delicious food, and I got to square dance in front of a lot of confused Japanese people.

Monday was a Japanese holiday commemorating sports. In honor of this, we decided to climb a mountain and hang glide off the top of it. We planned it out, got rides arranged, made reservations, and promptly scrapped the entire idea upon stepping outside into post-typhoon winds. I planned stuff for my classes instead, and drew some Halloween monsters to teach my kids, playing to the Hallmark conception of the holiday. I think they came out pretty well:

I wanted to try and teach a bit about the origins of Halloween, but considering how difficult it was to explain the concept of Paganism to the co-teacher who’d been studying English for 16 years, I decided to skip explaining it to first-graders.

More later.