Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sailing through Golden Week

Japan’s “Golden Week” occurs during the first week of May and is one of the few times Japanese people can take a real break from work. The problem: two of the week’s five days are work days, preventing one from taking any real time off. For example, this year, one holiday falls on Monday, with people working Tuesday & Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, and the weekend constitute the only real opportunity for extended travel & recreation. But, it beats no vacation, and nobody complains about the extra long weekend.

This year, I joined Teppei Takahashi and went camping with the Koriyama Yacht Club. As we all know, yachting is a private, rich, and exclusive sport. Japan is no different, as the Koriyama Yacht Club owns a private stretch of beach along Lake Inawashiro, from which they launch a fleet of… well, 6 foot long sailboats. They have a 25 foot vessel at a nearby marina, the Worldwind, but there wasn’t enough wind to justify taking it out. To be honest, there wasn't any wind at all! We only managed get out on the water in some canoes and paddle around in the heat.

I knew Teppei Takahashi through city hall. He’s a cool guy who’s really sporty and active. He loves hiking, sailing, camping, and drinking beer. He also loves to make fun of Chloe for being a vegetarian, something quite perplexing for Mr Takahashi. A fellow English teacher in Koriyama, and mutual friend, Chloe’s vegetarianism often confounds Japanese people, who find such a lifestyle choice difficult to comprehend.

While we didn’t do any proper sailing, I met some cool people. I met a university student studying German. I also met a former student of John Fite, another English Teacher in Koriyama. Now in her second year of High School, she fondly recounted John's use of a broom as an air guitar during the school’s daily cleaning time. Having done this myself on occasion, I can personally attest to the big laughs such shenanigans generate.

I also brought my Dutch oven along and tried to cook cornbread and peach cobbler for everyone. I burned the cornbread and screwed up the cobbler. And as I’m leaving Japan soon, I gave my dutch oven away to Teppei Takahashi and the Yacht Club. Perhaps they can make better use of it than I did.

This is Teppei in the picture. John, if you're reading this, do you recognize Maki?

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