Well folks, this is it. *Twinkle* and I moved out of Viva Kami Itabashi this afternoon, after about 15 hours of packing and cleaning. I was shocked by how much stuff we have acquired over the past year, although I’m happy to say that there’s very little in the way of junk. We bought quite a lot of the sort of things you’d ask for on your wedding day: nice plates, a pan set that will last longer than our bodies, the water filters that are only too necessary for us chlorinated Tokyoites, the printer and scanner, the bedding, the carpet… Still, in the end we managed to make the move back here to *Twinkle*s parents’ house in two trips; everything is now expertly stowed in nooks and crannies in this already over-populated house. When packing, I just kept on thinking “I can’t wait to unpack all this!” I love ‘making a home’, and the idea of living somewhere bigger than a bonsai ants nest with *Twinkle* is very exciting.
Random photo: Tea Ceremony in our home
Last night the two of took a walk around the local area. As we walked, we recalled that we had done exactly the same thing almost a year ago, the morning after we arrived from the UK. It’s amazing to look back and see how much we’ve accomplished this past year, and how fast the time has gone. I wonder though, us humans always talk about time flying by – why are we still under the illusion that time is slow? Perhaps it’s because regular tick-tock time doesn’t really exist, and thus it’s only natural that when we examine our own sense of ‘time’ it bears no resemblance to that shown on the calendar or clock.
I did my last night at the English school I’ve been working at 4 hours a week a couple of nights back. I feel kind of sad leaving there as I had grown to really enjoy conversations with the students. It was wonderful to see how relaxed they were in their use of the language compared to several months back. Several of them gave me little presents – as did the owner, thank you! – and one of them wrote me a lovely thank-you letter, in Japanese!!
After that class I made my way to a little bar in Meguro, where our partners in business held a little farewell party for me. I was presented with the most beautiful bunch of flowers I have ever received (and we’ve received a fare few recently what with the engagement and all!); I must admit to being a flower-holic, often buying a bunch for the table.
I said my goodbyes to the staff at uni – Hirai san really is a legend. I would strongly encourage anyone wanting to study Japanese at a Japanese uni to consider Rikkyo uni in Ikebukuro. The staff, the course, the campus, all great.
I was delighted to get a call from my good friend Tom two days ago with news of the birth of their baby boy. He sounds like he’s doing really well, the hungry little chappy, and is blissfully unaware of the agony he put his mother through when he made his entrance. He also happens to be very cute! Congratulations both Miyu and Tom, I can’t wait to meet him at Christmas time. Likewise with Emmie and Russ (their baby girl being born earlier in the week!) And Jo (Ling) I hope you and your new baby are getting over the rash, and Jo (in Hereford), I trust new baby Ben and new hubby Joe are glowing as ever. Not with nuclear radiation, but with happiness and healthiness.
I did want to Mumble on for hours about my starring role, alongside the Japanese superstar actress Tokiwa Takako in the Fuji TV drama “Bizan” to be aired next Spring, but due to a lack of time, I’ll just mention it briefly. (The full story can be heard on the final episode of this series of ‘A Year in Japan’, now available for download – see previous blog entry).
Despite our 11 hours of filming, I’ll probably only make it onto the screen for about 30 seconds. Watch out for the idiotic foreigner standing right next to Takako san, when, in Ueno Park, he is shouted at by the non-English-speaking tour guide (in English), “HEY, MISTER! This is a Statue of Saigo Takamori!” (I was quite amused by her “Hey Mister”, she’d made it up on the spot). I can then be seen just behind Tokiwa san and her partner as they have their photo taken – now I am being taught the Japanese word for ‘Dog’, whilst pointing at the statue of Saigo san and his faithful friend.
Rebel and Ryu, a couple of my co-stars
I can also be seen perusing some Japanese wares at a mini-market in Yoyogi Park (that was a tricky bit of filming to do as a rock band was practising just across the way, thus it was a case of trying to film scenes between their songs! The director had spoken to them, but as they’d actually hired the stage on which they were practising it was only natural that they refused to stop!)
Then there’s the bus scenes.
Rebel, the lovely Spanish girl, and moi
The 1975 tourist bus scenes, using a genuine 1970s bus complete with no air-conditiong, shot in scorching temperatures! Round and round the diet (parliament) building we went, for 5 hours. Sometimes with the camera inside the bus, sometimes outside. I can be seen in the seat opposite that of the stars. That was no accident by the way, more a case of an idiotic foreigner desperate to secure his place in shot. It’s during those scenes that you will hear my marvellous singing voice. As jolly tourists it was only natural that we sing a traditional Japanese song, despite being non-japanese speaking tourists. Well, since when did they ever go for realism on Japanese TV?
The Diet Building (Government building) around which we drove for 5 hours on our “Tokyo Tour”!
It was whilst doing the bus scenes that Tokiwa Takako started to take an interest in me, asking all sorts of intrusive questions. Questions such as, “What time is it?” At one point she got very personal, with the classic “Where are you from?”. Then there was the time when she apologised to me when I almost sat on her cup of tea on the wall. Oh yeah, me and her, we’re like this (Joseph wraps two fingers around each other). The famous actor blokey, Hashimoto someone or other, was a very nice guy. He didn’t have that upper class air of superiority about him, although like everyone else on set he did smoke.
Tokiwa Takako, taken using the secret photo-taking tecnique
EDIT: Bizan was broadcast nationwide on Friday April 4th 2008. Click here for the related Mumble, which has photos of yours truly on the box!
*Twinkle* in the park