Meet me in Takamatsu (or: Where’s the damn tonic?)

The last time I saw Maya was in a back street in Kuala Lumpur last April, so I was ecstatic to find her loitering at the Takamatsu ferry port last Thursday night. 

We hugged for a solid minute before renting her a bicycle and stopping by the supermarket for tonic (a beverage which would elude us for several days). We had a quiet evening catching up over a few gin-and-gingers; not quite the same as gin and tonic, but I did manage to get her some udon at Hanamaru to welcome her to Kagawa.

On Friday morning we headed into school where I introduced Maya to the teachers. She had a very interesting chat to my koucho sensei (principal) where they established that he had lived in Sydney only a few streets away from where Maya grew up. Small world.

My first period class was a seventh grade class (in which the students called me on imaginary phones and asked me to go for burgers at midnight) so I left Maya in a small room with the heaters blasting, then picked her up for second period with ninth graders.

The kids flipped out.

OMIGOD TWO FOREIGNERS IN THE SAME ROOM!!!

We had so much fun running these classes. We freaked kids out with scary Australian animal facts. We confused them by telling them all the countries we’d hung out in. Clippy koalas were thrown about like candy. We made some kids sing J-pop for us, and we sang Waltzing Matilda and the anthem in exchange. The kids asked some great questions (“What Australian things are you most proud of?”) and some predictable questions (“Have you ever held a koala?”). In one class, we played a “Which Country?” game, and although one kid thought the Grand Canyon was in Australia, they did pretty well. I asked the kids to tell Maya about Kagawa (in exchange for prizes) and one girl stood up and recited a list of Kagawa’s principal exports. One girl almost cried with excitement when she discovered that she and Maya both played the trombone.

We ate lunch (an amusingly complicated Hina Matsuri roll-your-own-sushi meal) with 9-2 and they were extra hilarious. Just as we finished lunch, the school band started up in the courtyard so we had a sweet concert which we watched from a third storey window with some of my favourite boys. When that was finished, I took Maya into the elementary school where we were mobbed by adorable tiny people who could be heard yelling “Ah! TWO Hannah senseis!”

When all my classes were finished for the day (I was exhausted!), Maya and I hung out in the staffroom for a little while, chatting to my teachers. We disappeared shortly after that to avoid an incredibly kind invitation from one of my English teachers who wanted to take us to her house and give us Japanese Stuff.

We had an amazing day, and I was so proud to be showing my awesome school to my awesome friend.

We stopped by a supermarket (still no tonic!) then headed home for a wee rest (Maya rested, I passed out) before putting our party faces on and heading out to dinner.

We met a bunch of my friends at an izakaya and I was stoked I had a chance to introduce Maya to nomihodai. We enjoyed a nice long dinner then headed to the bars to meet some more people. Maya managed to find another trombone enthusiast and I taught Ellie how to eat a peanut.

Around one am it was decided that it was dancing time, so we headed to RAD, our local nightclub and got our boogie on Takamatsu-style (i.e. to weird hip hop music in a half empty nightclub).

The next morning we got up early and still managed to be running late for our train at 11 to Tokushima, the next-door prefecture. We were picked up by my friends Naomi and Lisa, and we grabbed some lunch before heading to the theatre.

Every year, Tokushima AJET writes and performs an English/ Japanese musical and this year it was Beauty and the Beast. It was based on the Disney version, so it had all the classic songs, but it was set in Tokushima, with chopsticks narrating and commenting on the story in Japanese.

I didn’t have high expectations, I just thought it would be nice to go down and show some support for other AJET members, but I was blown away.

It was SO funny—not always intentionally, I admit—but during “Be Our Guest”, our whole row of seats with shaking from the uncontrollable laughter. There was enough Japanese that the mostly Japanese audience could follow it, and I was stoked that I managed to laugh at some of the jokes the chopsticks (Ha and Shi) made. The little adjustments to the plot and setting were great too; “this provincial life” became “this inaka life” and the wolves that attack Belle become the Nara Deer who try to eat her clothes.

After the show, Maya and I had coffee with Naomi and Lisa at the station before hopping on a train to Marugame.

Rachel and Mika are both leaving Takamatsu soon, and since we grab any opportunity for a party, we were having a black light party at Jack, our venue in Marugame. Maya and I obviously got all our black light gear going on the train, so aside from being the only gaijin in the carriage, we were also the only ones wearing glowing glasses and light-up hair extensions which about trebled the weird looks we got from other passengers.

When we arrived, we had Dragon Ramen with Leandi, Rachel, Mika and Ryan, then stopped by the supermarket WHERE WE FINALLY FOUND TONIC!

In all the excitement of this discovery, I decided I was Spiderman (waaaaay too much caffeine) and tried unsuccessfully to climb things in the shotengai.

We had a monstrous good time under the semi-successful black lights—dancing, drawing on people with highlighter and drinking gin AND TONIC out of our personalised ‘goblets’ (plastic cups we drew on with glass paint)—before heading to Fuse to finish the night with karaoke.

I was exhausted and there were still two days of awesome to go!

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