Friday was devoted pretty much entirely to giving back tests and going over answers. Then, at 6pm, I got on the bus that would take us to the year-end party.
I have been to faculty parties quite often before, but they were always either at a Japanese restaurant or a traditional Japanese inn. In both cases, everyone sits on cushions on the floor at knee-high tables and eats Japanese food, the only difference being that sometimes, if it's a restaurant, there's a menu available to order any desired food or drinks.
This party, in contrast, was held at a Western-style hotel, rather like a wedding reception. We even had a dinner show, a six-woman a capella group who were actually pretty good. (One of the members had been a student of one of the teachers.) We were assigned to our seats by lottery, and I wound up at a table with four women and one man. When one of the women commented, "It's like you have a flower in each hand" (a traditional Japanese saying), the man rudely came back with, "Yeah, a dried flower in each hand." *_* He was so proud of this quip that, when we were joined by another woman later, he repeated it for her. (She thwapped him for it.)
When they started bringing the food out, however, I knew I was in trouble.
About the only thing I could eat was the garnish and spring rolls (from which I inelegantly scooped out the shrimp). Luckily, someone quickly told the hotel staff I was vegetarian, after noticing I wasn't eating much. A few minutes later, they brought out a huge platter with about six different assorted vegetarian items on it for me. I was quite impressed.
I escaped having my glass eternally refilled by explaining that I didn't like beer. The hotel had left lots of beer bottles on the tables for people to go around and fill each other's glasses, which is the traditional way to drink at a Japanese party. At a restaurant or inn, they usually bring you the whole bottle if you want something like wine or tea instead, but here they had the servers bring out individual glasses for those who wanted them, so there was no way for anyone to refill my glass for me.
The party broke up at about a quarter to nine. Some of the teachers went on to what is called the "second party," where they drink even more and occasionally do things like karaoke, but I wanted to get home as soon as possible so I could sleep. (Today is my last day to study before the proficiency test tomorrow.) On the bus back, I was cornered by one of the more tipsy faculty members, who kept asking repeatedly if I could understand Japanese. (Despite repeated assurances both from me and the English teacher sitting in the row in front of me, he still kept trying to speak English. This is not surprising. Most people--even sober--simply cannot fathom a foreigner able to understand Japanese.) When we got off the bus at the school, he helpfully(?) said to me, "Are you okay? It's over there," while pointing at my apartment...I guess in case I might get lost crossing the street?
Fortunately, I managed to cross the street and find my apartment with no problems.