As I write this, it's a Sunday morning and I'm at a waffle cafe with Rachel.
Rachel has just finished her two years on the JET programme having taken over from Hannah, who was also a good friend of mine during my time in Ibaraki.
Yamagatamachi sure picks them well.
When we were out last night with some of my friends meeting rachel for the first time, I made it my prerogative to quote her entire speech to them which I had witnessed two weeks prior at the leavers party.
Why? Because it was one of the most intense fantastic heartfelt speeches I have ever witnessed in the flesh. Anyone who meets rachel in Japan should be aware of how much love and respect the people of Ibaraki have for her. But this post isn't about Rachel (ごめんね). This is about the legendary leavers party. Ok.. one more point about Rachel, she did all the catering for the party and the food was delicious.
Side note (when was I ever to the point?), the night before the leavers was the annual Drunken Duck Yamagata beach party in Hitachinaka. That's my old town for anyone keeping track. The same usual crowd were there...all the locals I've grown to love over the past few years. I must say that their company is always a pleasure.
Good god this is getting soppy. It usually does when I'm a little hungover. It's the baking hot summer and apart from the abundance of mosquito bites..some of which have inevitably gone horribly wrong with infection, it really is my favourite time of year in Japan.
The Yamagata beach party kicks it all off. Crazy reggae bands, pole dancers, skinny dipping in the ocean, bucket mojitos and Robbie in his typical fashion taking over the music with the same playlist we've heard oh so many times. Not hating...just stating.
The next day I drove with lolo and Robbie to the leavers party. Not just one cabin in the woods...but 5. An all day and night party, the most incredible speeches, food, Robbie sorting a deal with Hitachi Nest for kegs, mad love, best friends for life, more futons then you can shake a twig at and me taking a page out of Rileys book with intermittent cupboard naps.
The next day we rode a slide. .. don't ask and I drove robbies car back to mito, which was an excellent opportunity to reflect on so much that has happened in the past few years. That boy...who knows.
All in all.... it fit the bill.