I finished work last week. After a year working for Osaka Gas, Thursday was my last day in the office.
I wasn’t the only one leaving. April 1st is the start of a new working year in Japan, and lots of people are reassigned to work in different areas, some are redeployed overseas, and a new batch of 新入社員 shin nyuu shain (new employees) arrives to commence their training. It’s a very busy time, with everyone working hard to finish up what they were doing and to hand over to their successor.
Nonetheless, during my last days there were several events to mark my departure, and I was overwhelmed with the kindness and goodwill of my colleagues.
On Friday evening I had my official 送別会 soubetsukai—farewell party. This was a catered affair after work in a private room of the ガスビル食堂 Gas Biru Shokudou.
The food was top-quality and delicious and our 部長 buchou—section manager made a very nice speech, in which he jokingly referred to me as a very “aggressive” karaoke player! Then it was my turn to make a speech. I had prepared a speech with some carefully-chosen words but at the last minute I decided to leave it in my pocket and just speak from the heart.
After that, most people had to go back to work, and I went on with my team to karaoke.
On Wednesday (my second last day) I delivered a presentation about my experiences in Japan, my observations about the working culture and how it differs from what I am used to, what they do well, and my suggestions or recommendations for what they might do differently. This is not as arrogant as it may sound; it is what I was asked to do, and indeed part of the reason I was invited to work there at all is to provide an “outside” perspective. I had put a lot of thought into the presentation and it was very well received.
Wednesday was also the last ” Dara’s lunchtime English lesson”. I have been teaching my colleagues English at lunchtimes on Tuesday and Wednesday every week since last June. I had no prior experience teaching English, but I planned and prepared my classes carefully and came to really enjoy the experience. To mark the end of the English classes, I invited my students to join me for a “special English lesson” at Murphy’s Irish Bar in Shinsaibashi on Wednesday evening.
Murphy’s is the original Irish bar in Osaka, having been around for over 12 years. The owner, Mick, is very nice and friendly. He knew my sister at school and had been taught by my mother, so we had a good chat.
There was a band playing traditional Irish music in the bar, playing pipes, fiddle, box and whistle. The music was very good, although some of my colleagues, unfamiliar with the sound of the pipes, asked me whether the music had started or whether they were still tuning up! The musicians are all Japanese, but two of them had been at the Willie Clancy festival in Miltown Malbay and one of them had learned fiddle from Tommy Peoples (like Kenji, from Knit).
We drank Guinness and Kilkenny beer, and Irish whiskey, and ate excellent fish and chips, sausages and mash, shepherd’s pie and other pub food. It was a very enjoyable and informal evening out (becoming steadily more informal as the evening progressed).
My students: Masato, Satomi, Seitarou and Ryota.
More students: Ken M, Ken S, ShinoP
Takimoto-san, Ken M, Ken S and ShinoP.
And the whole gang, including Meg-san who was not one of my students but organised the whole thing.