The sun is shining.

Yes it is. Today is a good day. I just finished work for the day and enjoyed a walk through the city with a liter of cold green tea. There are so many different kinds of tea here, about six different choices in each vending machine, and it's hard for me to tell them apart. The tastes are different of course, but I'm not sure why or how. There's oolong, green, Chinese green, jasmine, barley tea, tea made with rice, autumn tea, and many more. As a rule they're all very light and refreshing.

Tea in hand, I walked from Roppongi to Aoyama 1-Chome. It was hot. Summer is still clinging on, and I was sweating a bit by the time I got to the subway. Tokyo is very hilly, so my walk involved lots of ascending and descending, mostly past restaurants and clothing stores. It goes without saying that they were expensive. There were tapas restaurants, Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, and dozens and dozens of Japanese restaurants. Usually the Japanese restaurants have deceptively humble decor and seem to specialize in something--say, sukiyaki.

I miss the days of Rotary when people would take me to restaurants like this all the time.I wasn't really aware enough to appreciate it at the time. I didn't really understand what they were treating me to in the hopes that some iota of Japanese culture would penetrate the space between my headphones. Oh, I have some regrets about that. There I was, surrrounded by Japanese people speaking Japanese to me and giving, giving, giving, and all I wanted to do was hang out with my English-speaking friends (and Naoko, of course) and drink. I hope to make up for that now. I believe in redemption. So far my studying is going well, and I have plans. I always have a plan.

Today I worked at the LC in Roppongi for six lessons. It was an early Saturday morning, eight-thirty to be exact, but I was out by 3:15 so I can't complain. I have Sundays off and Monday is a holiday, Respect for the Elderly Day--and I get paid! Paid holidays a first for me and my evening is a cheery one. On the way home I bought two big Kirin beers for later.

I think the Berlitz teachers I trained with are getting together tonight for drinks. I can see it all starting again: fourteen foreigners are thrown together in a strange city and immediately become friends because it's convenient and they speak the same language. The same as Rotary was. I want none of it. Those guys were OK, but damn. If I wanted to hang out with English speakers I would have stayed in Minneapolis.

In fact, I'm kind of shocked by some my coworkers. I met someone who has been here seven years and can hardly speak the language--in fact, several people. I met someone who despises Japanese food, all of it, even after four years here, and will eat little aside from Wendy's. Some constantly complain about their job and all the terrible things about it. Some have unmasked contempt for the Japanese students who pay their bills. Many people complain about Japan and the various ways Japanese food, culture, language and custom are different from their own. Everyone bitches constantly, in fact, though many work less than eight hours a day. After talking to Japanese people who work twelve hours a day, I want to throttle the ungrateful bastard who complains because her student actually showed up for a lesson. If anything it's inspiring me to shut up and keep positive. I just hope the ceaseless moaning doesn't rub off on me.

So tonight I'm going to go out on my own and maybe try to make some Japanese friends. I'm going to stick around Shimokitazawa instead of going downtown. Downtown would be fun and all, but the trains stop at midnight and while that's a bit early, I don't really feel like staying out all night, either. I'll get to know Shimokitazawa a little bit, which is a great area anyway. There's a place called Bird Cafe where I've gone a few times and chatted with the bartender and his friends who hang out there. I'll probably start there and then find out where to go for a good show. I could do some live music and a few beers. No work tomorrow or Monday--sounds like a good weekend.

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