Wednesday, January 12, 2005

In the Name of Amalgamation

Kazamaura Village is slated for amalgamation with Sai Village and Oma Township. Due to the attitude I have come to have towards Oma the prospect does not excite me. In an effort to counter such feelings of discord lurking in the bosoms of those affected, there was held today an enkai (“feast,” of the alcoholic variety) to bring together the boards of education of the three municipalities in brotherly harmony. Public and corporate life in Japan often operates on the axiom that “alcohol unites,” but what happens when there are sons of temperance present? Sobriety drives them to desperate boredom-evasion tactics.

Brian, the ALT (assistant language teacher) in Sai Village, and I were two such youths. Being non-musical and stone-cold sober we unequivocally refused to participate in the karaoke singing but, as a concession, we donned the party wigs brought out by the mama-san.

Presently, I was for no apparent reason handed a guitar, and I took that in stride as well. All in all, it was an enjoyable conclusion to my birthday, although no one was aware of the fact. One of the Oma section heads even sang a song that I would be willing to attempt myself in the future in spite of my inability to sing in tune. It’s called “A Man and a Woman in English Conversation” and is comprised entirely of textbook Engrish phrases. But alas, when the folks at the head of the table asked the ALTs to grade the tallented singer’s delivery of this selection, Brian accidentally shouted 「七十八点!」 (“78 points!”) instead of 「九十八点!」 (“98 points!”) as he intended. Silly Brian. That could have ended amalgamation right there. Fortunately, a little remedial diplomacy later on helped clear the air and everyone went home feeling that amalgamation, while it doesn’t make any logical sense, is nevertheless a great excuse for some great parties.