My birthday was last Sunday, so my friend came to visit for the weekend. It was nice getting to go out and do things with my friends, since last week was a whole week of sitting at middle school doing nothing. I wasn’t even told that we weren’t having class or that we had entrance ceremony (I figured that out and decided to wear nice clothes just in case, though) so I ended up sitting in the teacher’s room looking like an idiot all week.
I did get writing, editing, homework, and studying done, which was nice. No one formally introduced me to the teachers so I had to go around asking who were the new English teachers, and I was pleasantly surprised. The two new teachers are both friendly and upbeat, and replaced two teachers who were both kind of low-key and somewhat lazy with lesson planning. We’ll see how it goes.
Saturday I met my friend (and her Japanese friend) downtown and we walked around until the two of them were hungry enough to go to the restaurant I decided on. I had never been there before, but it was gorgeous inside, and the food was delicious. It was a Mexican restaurant, which is rare in Japan, and the portions were large compared to most places. The food tasted more authentic than anything else I’ve had here, so I chowed down on pork and tacos and quesadillas.
Then, we went shopping a little and got drinks at Starbucks before deciding where to go to karaoke. It was stilly relatively early, but most of the places we walked into were booked and had a 2-hour wait. We called another place and they had room for us, so we sang lots of Johnny’s and I sang lots of Korean songs. My friends surprised me with chocolate cake and it was really cute and tasty. I got to take a lot of it back home, too.
The next morning we lazed around until brunch, when we met my other friend for pancakes at the place we usually go. I decided that I wanted to do something that I hadn’t done before since it was my birthday, so we went to Marine World, which is an aquarium in Fukuoka. It was a little out of the way, which made it feel like we were going on a real trip somewhere.
I had been near the area of Marine World before, when I went scuba diving, so it was kind of nostalgic. When we walked into the building, I saw a sign saying something about people with birthdays. I asked my friends what they thought it might be, and we decided it was probably for a party-type deal, so we just went around the aquarium, making note of the otter-feeding show and the dolphin show times.
When we got to the sea lion exhibit, I noticed another sign that said “If today is your birthday, you can stand here to get in line to touch the dolphin.” Since dolphins are one of my favorite animals ever, I freaked out and told my friends we had to run back to the reception desk so I could sign up. I went up to the guy and he asked to see my ID and checked that it was, in fact, my birthday, and then he gave me a Marine World postcard, a stamp card, and a discount coupon for the gift shop. He told me to go to the dolphin exhibit at 3:30pm. It was 3:27.
I raced back over to the dolphin exhibit and got in line behind mostly children and a few adults. They all put their stamp card around their neck and waited for the guy to tell them when to go over to pet the dolphin. They also let you give one of the staff your phone or camera to take pictures of you. It was a doubly awesome experience because a) all the staff wished me happy birthday and b) I got to pet a dolphin!!!
After that, we went to watch the otters and the dolphins and had a great time. I bought some cute dolphin magnets in the gift shop with my coupon so I can put them on my fridge and remember this special birthday ^^
We headed back and ate Indian food before I headed home. It was a great weekend and I felt really special. I had to do a presentation yesterday, and I was kind of upset that fell on the day after my birthday, but now it’s over and the new school year has started, and I think it’s going well so far.
Junkyu told me next year he wants to plan a special event for my birthday, so he didn’t do anything big this year (although he did visit me and gave me a necklace) but it was okay because long distance is just a fact of life right now. I know the challenges are making us stronger, and next year I can look forward to spending every holiday with him.