Summer Vacation, Ghosts, and Taxes

Spent the weekend feeling under the weather, but fortunately I’ve managed to make a full recovery after 2 days of eating soup and rolling around my apartment floor while watching travel shows about the best food across the US.

Actually, scratch that. Watching TV shows about people eating large volumes of food probably wasn’t a good idea. But hey, since when have I been known for good ideas?? I do stuff and then let the good and bad sort themselves out after the fact. Let’s not dwell on that! At least you can have some exciting stories in the end, right?

Now that Summer is on its way out,  we get with it all the fun that usually comes with the end of Summer – back to school season. Japan’s school season is (significantly) different from America’s in-so-far that the school season begins in April (By the by, most of Asia starts in Spring. Korea starts in March, I think), but they do indeed have summer vacation for a month or so, and they get back into school around the same time the American students do. Now that I don’t teach English at schools, this doesn’t mean a whole lot to me usually, but you definitely notice that places are more crowded on the weekend and the station is, quite the opposite, not so crowded on the weekdays. I know it seems insane, but it’s true.

You see, mid-August marks the traditional Obon season, which is the time of year where everyone goes back to their hometowns, visits family graves, and families gather. It’s a celebration(?) in memory of the dead. Imagine it like a cross between Fourth of July (there are fireworks!), Halloween (ghosts!), and Thanksgiving (visiting family you don’t usually visit!). Though not officially a national/bank holiday, most companies give employees 4-5  days off,  and many businesses shut down. This means that a good portion of August is pretty much dead.

Dead.

Get it? It’s the season of the dead..? And the workplace is dead…?

Bah… nevermind.

So yeah, lots of people take vacation for that, kids are out of school anyway, and you basically just coast and wait for September to begin. Not that I’m complaining. I don’t mind a slow month once in awhile.

What else has been going on with me? Not a whole lot; just continuing with my studying (next Japanese test is in October) and meeting friends for lunch or dinner on the weekends. You know, the usual.

In other news, last week I got a note from the tax office in my mail box, stating that they decided to increase my taxes by 60%. I was about as happy as you’d imagine (not very?) to be told that the government randomly decided mid-year that I should pay more, so I went to the tax office to go get this all sorted out. The good news is that I knew what the problem was (English schools often have really … interesting interpretations of labor laws and how to pay salary) and was able to find all the tax forms and proof I needed to fix the problem.

The bad news is that no one at the tax office is eager to listen to your story of “Here’s why I think I don’t need to pay all my taxes.” It’s almost like they’ve heard 40 other people come in earlier that also think they shouldn’t have to pay all their taxes. “But wait,” you say, “I have a really good reason!” The sad part is that they all think they do. Tin foil hats, big foot, being a sovereign citizen… you know, that kinda stuff.

To make a long story short, I was able to get the whole thing sorted out (in less than 10 minutes!) and had the whole problem resolved 2 days later… but no matter what country you’re in or what language you’re speaking, nobody likes to have to deal with the tax man.

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday tomorrow..! Time flies when you’re having fun (obviously). I do need to get to my studying for the evening, though, but I’ve got some exciting news that I can share… eventually. Just wait for it!

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