Celebrating my birthday – Japan Style

This year, I celebrated my 29th birthday in my new city. I cannot exactly remember when was the last time I celebrated by birthday out of the country. Over the past 6 years, I have spent the day by myself, but lucky over the recent years, I have spent it with dear family back home.
This year, I spent it with my “new family” in my new city – my dear colleagues at my school.  My supervisor, T Sensei, at FHS took me to dinner at an Izakaya close by.  It was very lovely of her to take me out to dinner along with F Sensei and the second ALT who started working at Fudooka with me, Alex. The Izakaya was one cozy restaurant with various semi separate private rooms for people to dine in. Based on what I recall, the restaurant could occupy about 900 people (at least that is what the sign just outside the entrance mentioned to me).
We were required to walk up the stairs to reach the restaurant and at the top of the stairs, we were immediately was asked to take off our shoes. There were these black locker or storage shelves that was used to store our shoes! It was quite interesting to see how the storage worked. After putting your shoes in the locker, you would receive a shoe locker key and keep it with you until you were ready to go leave the venue.
Dinner was an absolute divine. The meal started with a free appetizer that composed of three dishes – fermented salty red sauce with squid, kidney beans and  We tried various things like Japanese style Caesar salad, 8 different types of yakitoti, grills ika (squid), chicken cartilage karaage, and more.   Aside from the delicious food, I had a black Hoppi beer drink while the other three folk at the table enjoy their Kirin beer. It was technically a “school” night for us, but what is a birthday dinner without any drinks!
The night ended on a high where a beatific delicious pancake style cake decorated with fruit and cream was served on the table. F Sensei had actually asked the restaurant staff to make this cake and also especially decorate it so it has both mine and T Sensei’s initials on it! Believe it or not, T Sensei’s birthday was actually a day after mine! What are the chances?
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It’s been funny how on this trip to Japan, I have found people with the same birthdays than I was at home. Amanda, who is also a Brisbane JET has the same birthday as me. Also, I recently connected with my mentor from my previous job on Facebook and through that, I found out he had the same birthday as I did. Three years of being his mentor and I had no idea!  So, Happy Birthday to both Amanda and my mentor, DE 🙂

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