Thursday was my final day at Yamasa, and I really wasn’t ready. I had meant to pre-pack so I could see how everything should logistically fit into my luggage, but I hadn’t managed to do that. I’d meant to start my farewell speech on the weekend and polish it over time, but had only typed it the night before so I could print it at school (furigana and such). I’d also been planning a final dinner somewhere we could get 食べ放題、which turned out to be Stamina Tarou, since a suggestion by Taniyama-san had fallen through when I learned that Thursday was his suggested restaurant’s day off. The SILAC faculty had checked to see how much it would cost and when the prices switched from lunch to dinner, which was really helpful, since I had no phone access.
My teacher for the morning was Takeuchi-sensei, which meant some wordplay and fun conversation. The curriculum for that day was supposed to be a debate, but since it was only me, I’d been told to request a few grammar points, much like my private lessons. My afternoon teacher was Itou-sensei, who brought me a few points she felt I needed as well. Once class was done, it was time for those of us who were leaving to give our farewell speeches. I’d had mine printed out by then, and though I should have practiced it more, I felt I was ready.
First up was a Taiwanese girl I’d never really met, who gave a short speech and made way for Alex, who also gave a fairly short speech. Then it was my turn. The teachers’ expectations were high, from what I could tell, and I didn’t want to disappoint. I could have read it better with practice, I know, and I had somehow gotten the wrong furigana in one spot, but I muddled through it. I started in ninja-style dialect, but switched to standard Japanese just as people had started to fear I’d written the whole thing like that (which I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done). I made sure to avoid the standard tropes I’d heard, telling my friends I’d meet them again and thanking my teachers for putting up with me. I also included one bit of wordplay that only the faculty got, using the syllables よく five times in one sentence, all in different contexts. I ended with a strident 風林火山！ and took a bow. We had the usual round of photos, and I was pleased to hear someone else besides me request the shinobi pose (which I’d started suggesting somewhere around the third week).
After the “graduation,” I made sure everyone knew what time to meet for dinner and where. I also said my goodbyes to the staff, who all told me to come back and visit when I returned for the fall semester at ASU. I spotted Takeuchi-sensei in the office and asked her if she had a moment, and leaned in to give her cheek a little kiss. She responded by giving me a huge hug. Alex and I then headed to the main building to check on bus times for her, since she was leaving Saturday morning, and I asked one of the office staff to reserve me a taxi for the Mini Stop plaza for the next day (since there was no way I’d be able to haul my luggage to the station on foot) before heading back to the dorm. Sean had asked earlier if he could come hang in my room after his classes were finished, since he was also going to dinner with us and there was no reason to go back to his homestay and then come out again, so he stopped by shortly after I returned and passed the time with me and I heroically tried to pack all of my purchases (many of which were game-center booty) and clothes in my suitcases. Since the little backpack I’d bought last year was to be my carry-on going home, I was free to really pack my clothes into the duffel bag that had been my carry-on coming in, leaving my airplane suitcase for the big stuff (which was more bulky than heavy, being mostly made from fabric). I realized that I still had to deal with the snacks and such, so in the end, I put the crushable snacks (Umaibou and such) into the metal Ben-To anime wastebasket I’d gotten (which came in a sturdy box), put my Glico-box products into otaku-store bags, and shoved them into a large paper Mandarake sack, adding my packed-but-never-needed fleece jacket to the top. I finally stopped about the time we had to leave to meet everyone, and the two of us headed back into the heat and humidity.
It took an extra twenty minutes or more, but we finally got everyone together: seventeen of us, including Nao, Curt’s Taiwanese girlfriend who’d finished SILAC a couple weeks before (but who was still staying in the area). Absent were Eugenio (whom I later learned had been forced to bail out someone from the dorm who’d foolishly gotten herself stuck in Nagoya without any money) and Setsu (as of this writing, I still don’t know where she was). We made our way to the restaurant, and before entering, I stopped everyone and asked for a favor: Alex was down to her last thousand yen, but if people could contribute one hundred each, she’d have enough to eat with us and not starve before Saturday morning. Most everyone (including myself) threw in a hundred, with Curt giving two hundred, meaning Alex could enjoy the meal. Just after we entered, though, Winni decided to back out, citing a monthly budget restriction, and as a result, Fanny and Leon (another French student) backed out with her. We were down to fourteen, but that was fine. I had the poor employee stamp my card for everyone except Arnaud (who had his own), and we claimed the center of the restaurant. At least half the group had never eaten yakiniku, especially not all-you-can-eat, so they were pleasantly surprised. The English Alexes chatted with Matt Hogan, an American musician who lives in Tokyo with his English-teaching wife; I sat with Sean, Javad, and Mateusz; Curt sat with his girlfriend and Ka, a big Taiwanese guy who spoke very little Japanese or English, but managed anyway; Arnaud and Larry sat with Cris and Origa. We all ate and ate and ate, pouring melon soda and grilling beef and pork and shrimp, with Sean and Javad going heavy on the desserts, until we couldn’t eat any more. Everyone had a good time, and we certainly got our money’s worth. When it came time to leave, Curt stayed behind with the three Taiwanese, and the rest of us headed back to our respective dorms.
The rest of the night passed uneventfully. I decided I didn’t want to leave my foam pad behind or give it away, but I couldn’t take it home; Declan told me he’d hang onto it until I got back in September, and Talu said he’d drop it by the office, so I jammed it into a huge SEGA World prize bag and handed it off. After that, I gave away my heavy comic magazines (since I only buy them for the omake, anyway), said goodnight to people as they went to bed, and occasionally worked a little more on packing. I finally decided to call it a night, sort of; I had a few hours before I had to be anywhere, and I set an alarm so I could lie down for a little while.