Monday, May 14, 2007

What I did on my Golden Week vacation...

Work!!! And not just work, overtime! That's right, this Golden Week, the one time of year that most people working full time office jobs take time off of their standard routine of feigning busyness staggered with the occasional interruption of real work, was spent working. (note: Japanese people do work hard most of the time actually, albeit rather inefficiently if you ask me.) Friends are taking trips to Vietnam, or Thailand, or China, or even San Francisco, and I'm at work helping out with the biggest event my office has annually.

The event? A 3-day annual cultural bonanza featuring Argentina. Awesome food, a great tango performance, some friends (new or otherwise), and 6,300 people. First we sold out on all the beer, then the wine, then the cookies and food. It was tiring, but I could deal with that kind of work all the time - outside in perfect weather, talking to people and having a good time. In addition to the performers we had flown/bullet-trained in from Tokyo and Fukuoka, there was a guy that volunteered to help out from Osaka that took a bus (crazy - at least 10 hours over the 2 buses) and a fellow CIR that came up from around Tokyo. She's the only Argentinian JET in the country. Oh, and the Argentinian ambassador was there too, with my job being to shadow him the whole day.

It's sort of a blessing in disguise if you ask me, since with Golden Week being the biggest vacation week for Japanese rivaled only by New Year's, all the big locations are 1) busy as hell, cramped with people and 2) at least twice the normal price. So yeah, I was spared that and given time off to do with what I would. And with that time, I have 2 4-day weekends, one of which will be spent in Tokyo with some friends. I've also gotten some much needed cleaning done around here, and yesterday got to take a nice leisurely jaunt down to Shiroishi to play some soccer on a really nice pitch.

I learned a little something yesterday... or I guess I should say I was reminded of something. It takes forever to get anywhere by car in Japan. No wonder they think 5 hours in a car is far - it's exhausting out here! See, now if I took the highway then I probably would've been down to Shiroishi in about 45mins. to an hour, depending on how saucy I was feeling that day. I also would've been shelling out something like 1500yen each way though, making it a rather expensive endeavor indeed. No, I instead decided that the weather was nice, so I'd take my time and take the regular roads. The problem there? Speed limits of 50km/h the whole way if I'm lucky, and a light on every single block. The. Whole. Way. So what should've been a 1-hr. trip becomes 2, and I barely make it in time for the match.

So yeah, if you're going by yourself and you can take the train or suffer the consequences - the trip would've been about 1:15 or so by train if properly timed. And if going with people, take the highway and split the outrageous fares. Oh, and I hear that June is car tax month too, because the super high fares and amazingly high taxes on gas aren't enough to keep the roads in good shape apparently. And this is why it's expensive to have a car in Japan.