As if in punishment for the previous night’s overindulgence in sleep, or perhaps due to jetlag, I awoke having only garnered a few hours sleep, with a full day of lectures on the four aspects of language learning: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
It was at this point I began developing my ‘Manga Molkie’ character! And subsequently went on to create versions of Nick and Rachael too!
Evidently in previous years people had used this day to skip out and tour Tokyo, as at the beginning and end of each class we were required to pick up, sign and hand in an attendance slip.
Despite the relative usefulness of the sessions they were damn near torture, housing us in windowless rooms for 8 hours of the day. Sure, the rooms were opulently dressed: floral fabrics lined the walls, conveniently disguising the lack of windows, whilst massive chandeliers hung from the ceiling, itself decorated with a multitude of ceiling roses and flourishes, and cut-glass jewels sparkled in the ambient lighting; a scene not unfitting for high residences, embassies or palaces, though lacking a little too much in Japanese influence for my liking.
All I’m saying is it did nothing to help reset the old body clock and brush off the jetlag!
Come evening each country went its separate way – we were off to our relevant embassy’s reception (unless you were American, then you got nothing!).
Meanwhile, at the British Embassy
Confused as to the dress code, a mix of suits, open collar shirts and dresses negotiated their way around the Tokyo subway network to the British Embassy.
The British Embassy in Tokyo is as smart as anybody could wish of an Embassy. Set in its own private grounds, both metal detector and turnstile gate prevent unwanted entry by unsavories.
Comprising of a number of formal buildings – befittingly reminiscent of Georgian/Regency style, with outbuildings scattered in the shadows – we were directed along a road and around the corner into what we’ll call the ‘summer house’, framed with Grecian style pillars leading into a high-ceilinged, white-walled atrium, that flowed into a more formal dining room in which the speeches occurred; and to the other side, a lounge room with appropriately styled furnishings for the exterior.
Arriving during the speeches, ever so slightly late, we tiptoed our way around the back and listened.
On the (AstroTurf) lawn outside stood an army of taiko, the Japanese drums, who provided entertain as we socialized, ate and drunk.
So what did I learn from the Embassy reception? Don’t steal a cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber from a karaoke bar, and especially don’t post a photo of you doing it on Facebook, or else you will be arrested, kicked off the JET programme and deported.
And above all, don’t punch inflatable snowmen.
The evening had begun to slip away from us, so we hurried back to the hotel to freshen up before taking full advantage of our final night in Tokyo and going out!
Out on the Tokyo Tiles
We marched out in full force, the 8 best friends that anyone could have, for a night of fun! First stop the arcades, for a casual game of Taiko no Tatsujin (太鼓の達人 – think dance mat, on drums!) Going for broke, and desperate to win, I went full body into a drum based rendition of Let It Go from Frozen, followed by PON PON PON, against Emma.
Now that we had some girls, the next stop was the top floor for some good, wholesome purikura (プリクラ).
By now it was getting late, and we were hungry again! Tom lead us to an izakaya (居酒屋 – a drinking restaurant) for nomi-hōdai (all you can drink, in this case, for 2 hours).
It was awesome inside! So Japanese! I had to duck to get in through the door, and there was a fish tank! Then we sat in our own private room, the earthy smell of the tatami mats fusing with the salty fish smells of the kitchen, the entire placed decked out in high gloss woods. But best of all, as you went to cross your legs under the low table, the floor gave way and became a sunken seat!
Needless to say there was a strange mix of foods, from the downright delicious cheese wrapped in bacon, to the compulsory tempura to the unstomachable squid! Both drink and conversation flowed, with a good night had by all, and our time together in Tokyo ended on a fantastic high!