One of the English teachers I work with got married last weekend. The reception was a carefully staged show of dress changes, tearful speeches (during which everyone cried) and all of the formality that accompanies any ceremony in Japan. First, the bride came out in traditional wedding kimono and marched solemnly around our tables while we all cheered her on.
Some of the other teachers I work with eating the twelve course meal that was served. Luckily the champagne never ran dry...
After the kimono affair, the bride changed into a Western-style wedding dress and cut the cake with her husband. As you can see they were very serious about documenting this wedding, no drunken best friends giving speeches into the camera allowed! Unfortunately, no shoving cake into each other's faces either.
In true Japanese form, rather than have a messy throwing of a bouquet, we each held the end of a ribbon, only one of which was actually attached to the bouquet so that when we all pulled someone was left attached. Is it weird that I wanted to be the one who got the bouquet? Obviously I have no intention to get married in the next years, but that little girl/prize winner in me always wants the bouquet!
(Off with their heads!) And then a change into a third dress. All of her dresses were something that the six-year-old me would have dreamed up... 1980's over-glorified prom dresses accompanied by some amazing changing hairdos.
When the last dress came out, the bride and groom walked to each table and symbolically lit the center piece candles. When all of them were lit, they lit the master candle at the front of the room and sparks flew everywhere and everyone clapped. To my delight, this was all choreographed to many classic '90's love ballads!
The bride and the groom each gave tearful speeches addressed to their fathers about how much they loved and were thankful for their fathers. The emphasis was definitely not on their mutual love, but on thanking their families for getting them there, which is nice, but seemed a little dry to me. Like Indian weddings, it seemed more focused on the sadness of the bride and groom entering a new stage of life rather than their love. I can't complain about getting champagne drunk at a Sunday brunch affair, but as far as weddings go it was much too serious and formal. All of the fun parts seemed to be missing. No dancing! How are you supposed to move in on the groom's friends?
Last week. For various reason's some of the other foreign English teachers and I had to report to our central headquarters for four days instead of going to school. Our supervisor told us the time was meant for "lesson preparation," but he must be hugely out of touch with what our job entails (we can never plan lessons before our Japanese English teachers who we are partnered with give us the lesson info, which they never do ahead of time). We had nothing to do and were put in a hallway room with one window for four days, 8:30 to 4:15.
So we practiced juggling tankans, the most delicious orange grown specially in this area.
Watched David Attenborough nature documentaries.
And Slept. On the second day of this tedium, myself and three others ran from the bottom floor to the 16th floor and by the 8th floor my lungs almost gave out. We talked about God, wrote collective stories, French-braided each other's hair, and generally felt like we were at a really bad office summer camp, or that our parent's hadn't been able to find a babysitter and we had to come to work with them all day.
The gloom of the headquarters. This is the prefectural office building. As part of some policy to save public funds, the building is very poorly lit and never heated or air conditioned. A general state of gloom prevails. We found ourselves surveying the office workers and saying things like, "Boy, we will never work a job like this!" and then pausing, realizing that in fact (though also not really) we all are working that job.
I've grown fond of calling this building the "death star" as you can see it from almost any point in the city and is god awfully ugly. I sing Darth Vader's theme song whenever I approach it.
Da da da duh da duuh da da duuuuh!