I was invited a couple weeks ago to a work party with all the teachers at my base school. I was pretty excited about it because I've hardly socialized with my colleagues. I thought it would be fun being the token gaijin at a very traditional Japanese gathering.
So long story short I had food poisoning last week from a very expensive meal at an onsen resort, as you do, and couldn't go. In fact I cant think of anything worse than having diarrhea at a bar full of all the people you work with, that probably has one toilet, likely to be a god forsaken squatter toilet.
"oh well", I thought, "Im sure they wont care that I'm not there anyway..... conversation with me is so limited due to my very poor Japanese"...
Yesterday at school I spent a few minutes organising the space on my desk. Loads of random bits of paperwork and all sorts of scraps had started to build up. As I was examining everything, I stumbled upon a piece of paper buried at the bottom of a pile. The invitation to the work party, a photocopy that everyone must have received. Whoever made it put a lot of time and effort into it - pact full of comical drawings and details, a map drawn out. There was a big section created for me, the new person, saying how honored and excited they were for me to join them, a big banner saying "welcome zara" with a bunch of little sketches.
It was such a sweet gesture. How bitter sweet to find such a lovely invitation to a party I didn't end up going to.