I met Mizuno San on the Park golf course about two weeks into my stay here in Ashoro. We hit it off over a cold can of coffee and an invigorating conversation about Gout! Ohh the things that people share! I don't have regular hang session with Mizuno San but he is one of those Ashoro residents that seems to have his finger in every little piece of pie in town
. Since I see him around so often he has taken it upon himself to make me his hunting buddy! A little while back Mizuno San took me and a friend of mine, Adam , on our very first "shika extermination trip"! The first mistake was the large amount of Saki that Adam and I ingested the night before. This decision was haunting us the next morning when we had to cram into a Toyota Landcruiser and off road through areas of the country that probably would have provided enough shaking to mix margaritas! Regardless of the impressive hangovers and bumpiness, our sites were spot on……. well the second time… as conveyed by the picture. We bagged ourselves a little venison for dinner. The second mistake I made was wearing running shoes that day, not knowing that we would have trudge through waist deep snow, scale slippery slopes and use our wits to manoeuvre across an icy cold river to collect our kill. Well, let me tell you my Japanese size refrigerator sure got a work out for a couple days until I managed to give away the majority of the meat as gifts to people in my office. Imagine my office mates reactions when I come to work with fresh bag of deer and plopped it on the desk in front of them… priceless!
I made mention of Igrashi Sansei in quite a few of my previous blogs. Igrashi Sansei is a do it all and say it all kind of guy
. He is up at the crack of dawn slamming down Vitamin C drinks, hits the Park Golf Course for 7 am, cuts a couple heads a day at his barbershop and winds it off with some Japanese guitar, flute or archery, and he is 79 years old! He is currently teaching me Kyudo every Tuesday night and just bought me my own bow which is pretty solid. Along with Kyudo he seems to be teaching me fashion style and lifestyle! A while back I committed a bit of a violation and had my hair coloured by a hairdresser in Sapporo when I was there for the Snow Festival. Igarshi Sansei, being a Barber, out right said to me "Ian your hair isn't cool!"
after a long silence he followed this sentence with "… you should move into my house with me"
. Haha random I know, but maybe this its what 79 years of wisdom and experience brings, not to mention a bowl of Soba and a couple pints of beer. Igarshi Sansei is the one who has introduced me to the fine art of eyebrow and ear shaving, applying hair cologne and how to have a long distance relationship as a senior, only seeing his girlfriend in Okinawa 3 months out of the year!
In an attempt to integrate into Japanese culture and life in Ashoro I jumped on the chance to get involved in Taiko, Japanese drumming.
Ishii Sansei, with over 40 years experience is "the man with golden bachi! (drumstick). This guy is about as fit as they come for a 67 year old and definitly puts me to shame with his 15 minutes rifts and acrobatics to boot! So every Friday night Ishii Sansei puts his patience to work teaching his only foreign student, who apparently seems to have two left arms, how to bang a giant drum in Japanese rhythm and time. One of Ishii Sansei's defining characteristics is his high pitch voice that I am sure only dogs can hear sometimes! It is pretty humorous to watch his veins throb in his forehead while he is screaming at the top of his lungs trying to command a group of 10 drummers. But all humour aside this man that denotes the definition of being level headed and supremely pleasant. He has the most inviting demeanour, donated pumpkins to carve for my Halloween project and likes to order a beer by saying " I'd like a water…. you know…….. the one with the barley in it!"
I started hanging out with Naofumi, a local Doctor, about 2 months ago doing some informal English lessons. When I say informal I mean the type of hang out session where I use phrases like "shoot the shit", "eh!" and "word to yo mom". (Yes, I have turned a little blacker since my arrival in Japan!) These lessons also give Nao the chance to brush up on his sarcasm and ability to burn me with jokes. Case in point:
Nao is a Doctor so of course random discussion about hospital experiences arises and I go on to tell him that I had surgery on my kidneys about 4 years ago. About two weeks later myself, Nao and a bunch of Nurses, who are about my age, meet up for some Saki and to "shoot the shit". Again the conversation about surgery comes up and Nao takes the initiative to tell the entire table that I had surgery on my ovaries
and that I am still having issues with them at the current time
! BURN!! Not only was it ridiculous that Nao threw me under the bus in his 2nd language but he did in front of a large group of girls! How to take me down a notch buddy! It doesn't stop there….. conversation continued on and eventually we got on the topic of hangovers. Nao, being as witty as his is, seized the opportunity to share with the table that "hangovers are not a problem for Ian because he knows what it is like to have morning sickness, you know, the kind that pregnant woman get!"
Well, needless to say the hang sessions with Dr. Nao have been keeping me down to earth these days and making me re consider my approach to humour and sexuality! hahaha
Well, there you have it! Some of the dudes that are bestowing their wisdom and experiences on me in the Land of the Rising Sun!
When writing these blogs I have tried to have a bit of a running theme in each one if you may have noticed. Themes ranging from my epic cultural screw ups, thought provoking differences in how we do things and even weird interactions that may involve the odd chopstick! So in search for a theme to this blog I came to determine that a lot of my spare time is spent with some pretty interesting Japanese dudes that are worthy of a story or two told about them.