Never Say Never

by

Last night we had a soubetsukai (送別会) for Mr. Takatsu. He has received a promotion and will be moving from the Ichishi town branch office of the Board of Education to the main office in Tsu city. These farewell parties are quite extravagant: usually involving a banquet at a fancy restaurant, where they serve every specialty on the menu; and often a nijikai (二次会), which translates as “the party after the party”.

Yesterday’s event followed the pattern well. We went to a restaurant called Miyako (都); and afterwards, to a karaoke box. Miyako is a common name for fancy restaurants and hotels in Japan. The name means “Capitol” and was used as an alternate name for Kyoto (京都) in olden times. The variety of foods on the table was amazing. Odorigui (躍り食い), or ‘dancing devour’, a food that I had sworn never to eat again was present. Cutting to the chase, I will tell you that I ate it.

Live tiger prawns are sometimes served, and you shell them and eat them. For those of you who think humans have become too far separated from the killing and preparation of their food: come to Japan and we’ll consolidate it all into one step for you. The first and last time I had eaten this ‘delicacy’ was back around 1991. The feeling of killing something with one’s teeth was a bit barbaric, but the impact on my digestive system was upsetting for about a week. Today I am not suffering any ill effects, so perhaps the previous restaurant didn’t have the highest standards for cleanliness. The flavor was pretty sweet. I noticed that only about a third of the guests tried it. Also, one of them escaped during the opening speeches.

At the karaoke box I sang at least three songs – I must have been drunk. Normally I get away with only singing one. Everyone at the B of E is really kind, so I didn’t feel very embarrassed to try. Strangely (or by design?) we ran into another government office party there and had a little interaction.

Takatsu-san is a great joy in the office and everyone will miss him.

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