Archive for April, 2009

My first interview!

Having completed a full week of hands-on training making saké at Daimon brewery, I thought I would return to the story of my job search in Saku city (佐久市)…..

In the immediate vicinity to the south of Kazuko’s apartment, 3 saké breweries are located. I had visited the closest two- one telling me it would be impossible to work there, and at the other I was only able to submit my resume. Mounting my mama-chari bicycle, I went back across the Chikuma river, and rode the long, straight shot to the next brewery which I found easily. Having been informed that this brewery, Fuyo shuzo (芙蓉酒造), was a small operation, my expectations were low as I entered the very tiny front shop. As usual, there was no one at the counter, but I could see an elderly woman sitting in the back room and quickly caught her attention. Again, I gave her my introductory speech which was getting more polished my third time through. She told me to wait while she got on the phone to her husband. Within a couple of minutes he arrived and seemed genuinely interested in my story and asked me to come back in 2 hours so we could sit down together. My first interview! I thanked him, and I as I rode back to Kazuko’s apartment into a stiff headwind, I couldn’t wait to tell her the news. Surprised and happy, she wished me good luck and I pedaled back to the brewery, getting more nervous the closer I got. My Japanese level is good enough that I can hold basic conversations, but I was about to enter my first real test- an interview in Japanese, one on one, for a job I really wanted to get. I was really throwing myself into the fire, and hoping I wouldn’t get burned too badly.

After I arrived, I was escorted by the wife into the brewery, past old machines, large tanks, over hoses, up a steep wooden staircase and into a large meeting room. She indicated for me to sit and wait for her husband, and then I was alone. As I sat there waiting for my interview to begin, looking around the room at the old photographs, framed awards, surrounded by bottles of saké in the 2nd floor meeting room of a brewery in the middle of Japan (literally, Saku city is the farthest from an ocean of any Japanese city) I couldn’t hold back a grin. I really enjoy moments like this, when you are in a strange place, doing something out of the norm, and have time to reflect on how it is you got there, and the uncertainty of what will happen next.

And as for what happened next, I will tell you in my next post! thank you for reading.

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The blossoms have arrived

Spring has officially arrived in Tokyo and the cherry trees have begun to bloom.  Without a doubt, the best time to be in Japan is now.  Set against a blue sky, a cherry tree in full bloom is so pretty is almost doesn’t look real.

Cherry blossoms (Sakura 桜) just outside my building

Cherry blossoms (Sakura 桜) just outside my building

But what do cherry blossoms and saké have in common you may be asking yourself?  The answer my friends is hanami (花見).  Hanami, consisting of the Chinese characters for “flower” and “to see”, means just that:  going to look at the cherry blossoms in a place where many trees are grouped together.  And then throwing down a blanket (or blue tarp, very popular here), meeting friends, eating food, and of course, drinking!  What better place to enjoy a cupful of saké than under a cherry with thousands of light pink flowers above, on a nice spring day in your local park- like I plan to do this weekend.

That is another great thing about Japan, you can drink saké or any alcohol in the park without a worry that a cop will come by, pour out your expensive daiginjo saké, take the bottle for himself, and give you a fine like they do in Canada or the USA.

enjoy your weekend, I know I will!