A lot of people ask us what jon does, why we’re out here. Most of you know he’s an engineer for the navy, but that doesn’t really explain much. For most of our trip, jon has been the guy with the clipboard and the clicky pen, helping to train his Japanese counterparts on how to work with nuclear vessels. “um. I help SRF oversee their program for different types of stuff that…” Okay you guessed right, there actually a lot of jon’s job that he’s not allowed to tell you. Sounds awesome, right?
Which brings us to an evening with the folks from SRF (Ship Repair Facility), Jon’s japanese coworkers. Why they decided to do a “team building” night at the end of the trip is beyond me, but it was fun to meet some of the people that come up in work stories every so often.
The Japanese drinking culture is a little different here. It’s copious, often done in groups, and most often involves food. Not meals, mind you, but small bites. “Izakaya” is quite a bit like tapas: small plates.
They don’t seem to have the same shared-food/shared-check phobias that we do. Drinks are usually ordered in rounds, food is put on the table, and everyone tosses money on the table at the end.
Chu-hi is a common drink that can be bought either in the can (from 7-11) or in restaurants, where you’ll always get it fresh. Making it is simple: mix fruit juice, soda water and shochu (the local spirit), throw in some ice and you’ve got yourself a party. What I love is when you get your chu-hi so fresh that they want you to work for it. Interactive drinking. I love it.
Another thing that’s incredibly japanese is Karaoke. Sigh.
It’s not that I’m intentionally trying to be a buzzkill, it’s just that I know I’m terrible at singing. Why does everyone insist this isn’t a prerequisite to singing in front of groups?! I had just about made it through two years, but I think jon had had enough of my bailing early and excuse making. Tonight’s the night.
Karaoke bars in the states usually have large stages where you sing in front of the entire bar. Perhaps this eggs on my distaste of them? Here it’s a little different because you have a private room for your group. It was odd at first, but thanks to our j-friends, we quickly got the hang of it.
Not to mention, there was an extra dose of “oddly translated english” to have fun with!
Sakai-san unabashedly sang and danced, and entertained us all with his mad-karaoke-confidence. He looks like such a quiet, older, man – you’d never expect him to be so funny!
Jon did spectacularly, though I think that was in part due to a good selection of songs.
Below, jon singing a love song to Rich. Okay, it’s not a love song… more like a… well. it was a song that probably shouldn’t have been sung between two [straight] guys.
Rich, singing and sakai-san and meeha? Mija? Mi-ha? (Jon, how do you spell her name!?) being so moved they had to dance.
At the end of the night, after being assured that we “probably had enough time”, we headed home. As luck would have it, we got to the station just as the the lights were flashing – our signal that we had just missed the last train (and only by two minutes!!). Had it not been utterly cold, rainy and miserable out that night, we may have considered hitting another bar and sleeping it off in the (outdoor) train station till morning.
Luckily for us, a new friend offered up his guest room. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of dan – a distant coworker of jon’s, who seemed to be one of the most genuine and kind people I’ve met in a while. (And I’m not just saying that because he roofed us!)
All and all, a good night. Good adventures, at least.