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April 22, 2008

The weather’s starting to warm up, which is awesome, and the new school year is starting, which means time for new friends.

So I met up with this girl who I met at the Drivers Licensing Centre when I got my Japanese Drivers License. She was new to Kyoto, starting her first big job out of Uni, and didn’t know anyone, so I figured that was a good friend to make, before she gets too Japanese Busy and has no time to do anything but bow and pour drinks for male coworkers.

However, I have no money. So, I suavely suggested we head to the cheap sushi restaurant near the centre of town. 100 yen a plate. But it’s kaiten-zushi, which makes it either cooler or crasser, I guess, depending on your viewpoint. You sit at your table or whatever, and a conveyer belt works its way throughout the restaurant, with plates of sushi rolling past you the whole time. You pick one you like, and you grab it. I reckon it’s cool. Purists might be put off by not being able to see it made in front of them, and wondering how long it’s been working the room, but when it’s 100 yen a plate, that doesn’t matter.

So we headed there, and there was a hell of a queue. Japanese people love cheap sushi. So do tourists. So we went in and made a reservation at the automatic reservationer machine thing, and as doing so, I saw two girls wearing my school’s uniform right beside us paying at the counter.

As much as I like (some of) my kids, I don’t like seeing them if I’m out with a girl. Especially the girl students. They all take way too much interest in my dating life, and need to know what my status is, all the time. So they know when to pounce. When I had my girlfriend, and some students saw me walking around with a different girl, buying socks, they were all convinced I was having a steamy affair. Before, and after, I had that girlfriend, any time I’m seen with a girl, it’s gotta be my new girlfriend. And I get so much grief from the kids that I try to avoid that scenario as much as possible. So, when these two girls were paying, I took an intense interest in the Hello Kitty (sushi version) dolls next to the counter until I was sure they were gone.

Then they were gone. And so were we, until the place cleared out a bit. We went and checked out a music store, looking at Japanese bands with awesome names like Bump of Chicken and Pornograffiti, and then went back to the sushi place, where we were next in line. So we sat down and waited in the waiting area, being the only two there.

Suddenly, a girl in my school’s uniform dashed around the corner, glanced in our direction, saw us, sputtered “いた“, with a shocked look on her face, and ran back the way she had come.

As my stomach sunk, I counted about three seconds before a deluge of girls from my school came bursting around the corner to stare at the two of us sitting there alone in the waiting room, obviously together. They all came running over, calling my name, and asking who my new girlfriend was. Then they all started pulling out their phones and taking photos of us as “proof”. My friend didn’t know what to do. She tried to escape, but they surrounded her and forced her back closer to me so that we’d both fit in the frame.

Suddenly the waitress busted through the paparazzi to tell us that our counter table was ready. Thankful, we followed the girl to our seats, with the girls trailing behind. And we soon realised why. Our table was right next to the two tables the schoolgirls had. We had to try and sit and enjoy our 100 yen sushi with our backs to the girls about 2 metres behind us. My friend kept glancing back and telling me “they’re still looking at us”, but well, what can you do. I heard a few more phone camera shutters go off.

I saw one of the girls at school a couple of days later, and she showed me a photo they’d taken. I’m in the blue and my friend’s in the brown.


Today in class, I taught one of the new classes for the first time, at the other school. The kids made the standard noise when I arrived, then the standard silence for the rest of the lesson. After class, I was packing up my stuff, when I heard a phone camera go off. I turned around to catch a girl like a deer in the headlights, with her phone extended, obviously caught off-guard by the loud sound it made. My Japanese co-teacher told her to ask my permission before taking a photo. She asked, I said OK. Then, as soon as I said that, all the kids in the class jumped up and formed a wall of cameras. It was the weirdest sight. Some of them kept jumping in beside me and making peace signs as all the shutters went off. Then they all started swapping photos with each other. I couldn’t do anything but laugh, and was laughing for most of the photos. I saw some of the photos. They were horrible.

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