Yesterday I think I had a near perfect day. Edel and I awoke with the sun (or around 8am, close enough?) and drove to Jumonji (not just a board game where animals come to life, but the name os a town in akita as well!) to meet some friends for a day of skiing at a slope called Jeunesse. It was a beautiful sunny day and the extensive trails put our little old Yashima Ski-jo (where I usually go nightskiing) to shame. We wore ourselves out on the slopes, skiing till the last possible moment before our lift tickets ran out, and left happy (youth restored?) despite sun and windburn. We stopped for a delicious dinner with another friend in Yokote at the best indian restaurant in akita (It's all about the nan), picked up some necessities at the local import food store (perrier and popcorn, of course) and then drove through the mountains back to Honjo, stopping en route for the perfect end to the perfect day, an onsen! Is it strange that communal bathing in burning hot spring water has become one of my favorite activities here in Japan? In this long akita winter, I think not.
Last Friday I was invited to the home of my school principal for a special, secret enkai for all the teachers at my school who do not have homerooms. The principal likes to call the group "the 4th grade" (haha, there are only 3 grades at junior high). His wife had prepared for us a ridiculously lavish feast of a dinner, including sashimi, beer-marinated bamboo shoots, and baked cod. I lucked out bringing the principal a bottle of local sake called snow sake, as it turned out to be his absolute favorite. His house was quite impressive, a very big, old house in a little neighborhood surrounded by rice fields, all tatami and wooden beams and shrines for the ancestors. One room held the family's hinamatsuri display of dolls and another their collection of ancient calligraphy documents (his wife is a calligraphy teacher). Most memorable was being invited into the principal's "private room" to listen to classical music on his formidable stereo system, to the music teacher's delight. Most of the furniture in the room was made by the principal himself and he also had a collection of flies he makes for fly fishing. I was so grateful to be invited, apparently this was the first time he had ever had staff members over to his house.
In other news, this is my 50th post!