December in Japan is the month of official ends. New Years is arguably the biggest holiday here, and with it comes two responcibilities: officially close the year propperly, and open the year in the best possible way. Being that I can't speak of what my new year will be like I`m going to focus on the closing ceremonies here.
Every club, work place, group of friends, or group of willing participants has what's called a Bon Enkai (Year end party). These are a chance to reflect on the year, eat a huge course of food, drink with your coworkers (my other high school teachers love this part), and generally bond with those you spend the most time with outside of family. The food is always better at a Bon Enkai, and when your supervisor comes to you and hands you a beer it is one of the only times in Japan where I have been able to geleam any honest constructive critisism on my teaching. This year Susaki High School will have a very speical guest at it's bon enkai. My dear friend (sister via unofficial adoption) Alice is bound for Japan from Cape Town as we SPEAK, and I am all a quiver with anticipation. Alice and I will be traveling extensivly (expinsively . . . ew, traveling within Japan is REALLY pricey) through out the kansai area of Japan. More to come on that after it's done. She'll also spend about 6 days puttering about Kochi getting to know my day to day, and spending Christmas with all the cool kids you hear about so frequently who are not off traveling for their holidays. This reunion and vacation are much needed because I am one tired guy. Between school, PA, free English lessons, taiko, and attempting to maintain a social life and presence I really came dangerously close to burning out. After a week of returning to daily workouts and health minded diet (get them greens in) I am feeling almost back to myself.
In other news. I am back on the baking wagon as chocolate chip cookies are now officially in season. My Christmas tree is up (major life goal of having a live tree achieved thanks to a local hardwear store sellign small potted evergreens) and the den is looking quite festive, if I do say so.
Two weekends ago I went into the city to see Mia's band, Wind Beat, play a big show on the night of the lunar eclipse. Fantastic! They are a really tight group, and the crowd was bursting with bunches of friends. It was a fun night of great tunes and good banter.