I went home for Christmas, and it was very nice. So nice, in fact, that I wished I had stayed longer when I got back to Japan! January was a fairly tumultuous time, since the cafe I had been working at closed and I had to find a new job quickly, and also for the first couple weeks of January my friend Kat from high school was visiting, so lots of things were happening at once.
I went ice skating with Kat at an outdoor rink in Minatomirai, near Yokohama. It was super fun, I hadn't been ice skating in a while but I picked it back up quickly and we had a great time. It was super cheap too, only 1000 yen for entrance + skate rental. I tried to go back a couple weeks later with another friend, but unfortunately it was closed due to bad weather, so we ended up just having dinner and doing some karaoke instead.
I also went to see Kabuki theatre with Kat, for the first time since I've been in Japan. We went to the Kabukiza theatre in Ginza, which is really cool-looking. I have pictures, which I will post to my photobucket account eventually. We only saw one act (full Kabuki plays can run for four or five hours!), since that way it's cheaper and less time-consuming, and also you can rent earphones with English explanations of the action. I recommend it for the next time anyone visits me here ^.~
We also visited the beer museum in Ebisu, where you can get a sample tray of four different types of Yebisu beer for only 500 yen. We split the cost and shared the tray, so now I can definitively recommend different types of Yebisu beer, haha. The museum has all sorts of weird beer-related items for sale in the gift shop, including beer chocolates and beer jelly. Kat bought some beer chocolates as a souvenir, and I tried one, and it was... interesting. Not bad, but kind of weird.
I managed to get another job by the end of January, and I'm working there now. It's an English conversation school similar to Gaba, except that you get paid (a very small amount, but at least it's something) for lessons that you don't teach, and the general atmosphere is overall much better. The students are all women, and of the four locations three are very close to me, so it's been pretty good so far. Right now jr high school students are on break here, I believe, so at the moment I'm not doing the jr high teaching; I think that the new school year starts in April. I'll probably look for another part-time job in the meantime, just to cover my bases and make sure I have enough for rent and train fare and hopefully a little extra for shopping and going out, &c.
Speaking of shopping and going out! I went out with some friends last weekend; we went to my friend Junko's house because she has a Wii and a karaoke game as well as Wii fit. We did a bit of karaoke and a bit of Wii bowling, then in the evening we went to the big Marui sale in Ikebukuro. I wasn't planning on buying much, if anything, since I'm pretty poor at the moment, but I found the greatest bargain while I was there! I spotted this nice white coat, and since I've been wanting a new coat lately I went over to look at it, to keep it in mind for when I got some money again. But! Then I spotted the price! Only 3000 yen, marked down from an original price of over 17000! So I went ahead and bought it, since it fit perfectly and looked fantastic, and bargains like that are a rare beast indeed here in Tokyo. I will endeavor to get someone to take a picture of me in it and post that to my photobucket as well. An epic bargain like that ought to be documented, haha. (Also, it really does look fantastic on me ^.~)
I've been taking advantage of cheap and free things to do lately. Last Sunday two of my roommates and I went to the annual Japan Media Arts Festival, held at the National Art Center in Roppongi. It was really interesting; there were some cool short films as well as photography, and some games, and there was this one exhibition where there were a bunch of pipes set up like a harp and bubbles were released that created music when they hit the pipes. There was another exhibition where you could play with your cell phone; there were two screens, one on the ground and one on the wall. On the ground screen were lures with the names of the players; if you went to the web address displayed you could type in your own username and a lure would appear on the bottom screen with your name. Then you used the buttons on your phone to move your lure and try to catch a fish. If you caught one, a fish would appear on the screen on the wall with your username and swim around with all the other fish that other people had caught. And the best part was, the whole exhibition was free, haha. I'm glad I went, it was really cool.
I also went that night to all-night karaoke with some other friends. There's a place in Shibuya where you can get "free time", which is basically midnight to 5am, for only 1000 yen. You can bring in your own drinks, too, which is great because the drinks at most karaoke places are a bit on the expensive side. So we sang all night, and then I almost lost my voice. I was worried at first because my job involves a lot of talking, but it ended up being a good conversation starter in my lessons. Almost everyone in Japan loves to do karaoke, so when I mentioned I lost my voice doing too much karaoke, that immediately got the students talking and asking questions, which is a good thing.
Anyway I'm going to head for bed now! If I remember anything else cool from the past couple months I'll try to post again, and it might take a while but eventually I'll get some pictures up too. Ja mata! (until next time!)