My dad will like this story. There's a good chance no one else will, but this is a good example of interesting things that happen in Japan.
So tonight as I was riding the train back from Mito, we stopped at the first stop, Katsuta, and suddenly the conductor came through and was shoo-ing everyone off of the train. Needless to say I was confused, so I gave him the "sideways-head-tilt and furrowed brow" look of confusion but silently got off the train (after he told me to twice).
There was only one other person on my car, who turned to me as we disembarked and said, "Did you understand that?" I hung my head and admitted no, and he explained to me that they were removing the front several cars from the train at this stop, so we had to go to another car. I thanked him for helping me and we proceeding to sit next to each other in the next car. He asked what I was doing in Japan (using very good English) and I told him I worked at a junior high in Hitachi, and he told me he was familiar with the ALT program. I asked him how he learned English and he said a long time ago he lived in San Francisco for 8 months, and how he maintains it through work with the Rotary Club. "The Rotary Club!" I exclaimed, "why, my father is a member of the Rotary Club!" This delighted the nice man (Yoshi is his name) and he asked if I was involved in the Rotary Club in Hitachi. I said no, that I didn't know anything about Rotary in Hitachi. Yoshi replied that there is some kind of new family ties membership thing, and that since my father is a member I should also be invited to events. Plus, he added, he was sure they would love to have me give a speech sometime. :)
So now I have a connection to the Ibaraki area Rotary Clubs. This could prove interesting, if anything actually pans out. Can't you see me preaching to a bunch of Japanese businessmen? :) Heehee....