Yukkuri Countdown JAPAN
Why does sour stuff make you involuntarily wink?
Plums here aren't purple and red like the ones I'm used to at home. They're yellow and orange like nectarines. They're not very big either. Still, I am enjoying them. I gave one to teacher who sits next to me and she said when she was young plums had very big seeds and not much fruit. They've been improved within her lifetime.
A few days ago she had a plum that she'd picked up off the ground but she'd also picked up a frenzy of ants with it! I had to point out to her that they were coming out of the pit; she had seen some but didn't realize how many there were. It made me shudder..yuck! Then it was funny and she laughed as she emptied her bag to make sure there weren't ants running loose. She had to get two or three at the bottom.
Before the ant problem, she'd given me a dish of cherry tomatoes grown by someone in her husband's family who is a farmer. They were nice and meaty and tasty. Very clean. It's nice to grow your own food.
Today was the annual Appreciation Ceremony for ALTs. Our certificates are proof that we worked for the contracting organization. Gotta take it home with me.
Early this morning, about 6am, it was pouring steadily. Luckily by midday when I had to go out it was clear. I have at least 2 mosquito bites on my feet from one night when the net was drooping onto my feet so the bug was able to get me. Otherwise I feel like either the mosquitos are fewer than usual or I've learned to minimize opportunity for them to touch me or maybe I'm not as tasty to them for some reason! I hope the last. Maybe they can sense fear. I'm not scared of them anymore.
Rilakkuma is cute. I have too many toys to take home.
Another Year, Another Bunkasai
Today was super hot, 35 degrees, but I'm not complaining because I had a great day. The left pocket and his visiting brother joined me at base school's cultural festival. We played games and lots of students recognized me this year and excitedly said hello and what's up! I even recognized some students from visit school who came to see the bunkasai.
Tomorrow is another full day of bunkasai. Will it be as hot??
U-kyotosensei bought my iron and board and gave me 20000yen for them. After I looked at the amount I tried to say it was too much but he wouldn't hear it. In another attempt I returned most of it as otsuri and still he would only take 10000 back. He's too nice. I feel bad for letting him ask about it and buy it in the first place because I didn't realize he was just being nice.
As part of mentally preparing to leave Japan, I'm supposed to think of the five people I'll miss most. That would be Fukuhara-sensei (motherly teacher at visit school), Furuya-sensei (motherly/friendly teacher at base school), Tokita-sensei (teacher who sits next to me), and that's about it.
Maki wrote to me saying she's okay but lonely living alone to attend Sophia University.
Chisaki wrote to me saying she was accepted to all the graduate schools she applied to but she chose State University of New York at Albany. She's leaving Japan August 15th.
Only one student teacher this year talked to me. She was the most confident and energetic of the three English student teachers, as far as I could tell. I actually had two chances to team teach with her instead of the usual teacher. It was nice; too bad I wasn't even told until it was happening. On their demo lesson plans only that one made the most out of her English ability, typing her name, class time, targets, etc. in English. I could hardly tell that the other plans were for an English class.
Saori wrote me saying she traveled to Oregon and Canada but summer quarter is starting and she has to work again. She will be coming back to Japan for awhile and wanted to visit her old school and see me but I think I will be back home when she comes.
The school cafeteria has yakiniku bowls now. They are yummy. Only 300yen.
Rained a little in the morning. Temperature still high 20s. In the coming days it's supposed to be up to mid-30s.
Market took away their generic brand of low-fat milk. Now there's only ONE brand of low-fat milk. The only choices are 3.5% fat or higher.
Someone Moving in Before I'm Out
There appear to be baby cockroaches running around since last night. They chose the night that a couple friends came to check out the stuff I'm selling to make their debut. When I step on them with my slipper they lie still a split second before jumping up to keep running. Then I step on them good. Sometimes they jump up again, though. It's freaky.
Why are they here now? Does heat bring them out? There's no more food out than before. Did moving furniture agitate them out? Did they come in through the open windows suddenly?
I saw two dead mosquitos today. YEAH! First one was already dead...how do they die on their own? Second one was going nuts around my foot while I was swiffering. Surprisingly I stepped on it and got it. I LOVE MY MOSQUITO NET too. Hopefully it keeps out baby cockroaches too. YUCK!
Used my free gerumanium(?) ticket at the gym. It's basically like a spa contraption for only your forearms and feet. The temperature read 41 degrees and one session is 20 minutes. It made me sweat lots but it felt good and relaxing like an onsen. It felt like stuff...energy, heaviness was being pulled out of my hara. Supposedly it burns 600 calories...
Yesterday and today used my prize 1000yen gift ticket from the gym to get bagels yesterday and today. Why are bagels supposed to be healthy?
Now that my head is in the states, non-Japanese food especially appealing because I know that soon I will be able to eat it all, forever, for cheap. It's so nice to have that peace of mind.
Some students expressed shock and unhappiness at the news that they were getting a new ALT soon. One said "yada" but that was the extent. Some classes didn't get the message that I was returning home, since some teachersdidn't comment after I told them in English and said goodbye.
Black, Brown, Orange, Yellow
The air is thick and warm, it feels like the temperature is exactly the same as my body so that I meld with the atmosphere and am weighed down with the mass of everything around me. The school is hectic but time seems to be moving so slowly. Teachers are pressing towels to their faces to lift the sweat. Not even the sun is piercing or bright enough to break the heavy dullness. I could flop over and groan.
Twice today I've witnessed first year students corned by teachers, at least three to one, standing awkwardly with unpleasant expressions in the midst of the hounding about their dyed brown hair, their roll socks, their failure to do such and such task or assignment that everyone else has already done. The girl actually walked out of the staff room on the teachers when she was reminded to get rid of her bunchy cheerleader-type "roll socks". I wish behavior in the classroom was so strict. The hair and socks, though, I think that's irrational. These students are mentally so far beyond the control of this school that forcing them to relinquish natural harmless sense self-expression such as hair color and socks will just drive them to anger and frustration. How can teachers seriously enforce the rule when the majority (it seems!) of the country has brown, orange, yellow hair? The teachers sure don't all have black hair!
Today I did yoga to yoga versions of the FuyuSona theme and Jupiter, a song by Ayaka Hirahara. I couldn't help snickering as the Winter Sonata song played.
Love the gym. I think I'm gonna miss the Japanese gym. I like seeing the old people doing aerobics, it's cute. I like seeing the boney people lifting weights and the little towels for wiping sweat off machines hanging neatly folded. I'll miss the young staff ladies who are constantly returning seats and weights to their default settings.
Newest Japanese food discovery: kenchin udon. I love it, I've had it twice and I want more!
Head is full of home, feels like coming here in reverse. I feel more like I'm in LA than in Japan. Got my plane ticket, the left pocket's got a ticket. We're going home!
I'm in my last rounds of teaching. They aren't so special at all. I don't want to make farewell speeches.
The yen is high to the dollar. 108something per dollar... that's not good. Go down to 104!
It hasn't been so rainy this rainy season. It's not very hot...yet. Mid-high 20s... but when the sun is strong, it's strong!
I'm gonna miss the clutteredness, detail of places and things in Japan. It's great for exploring. It's good to be a person who notices small things.
I'mg onna miss the general quietness, the systematic securities: taking the train, the polite phrases, tame little cars, stand on the left and walk on the right
I've gotten used to hanging my laundry. I've gotten used to no paper towels in public bathrooms, to no napkins at restaurants. I've gotten used to small portions!...well, at least I don't mind them as much as I used to..
I won't mind the California weather, having a bed, no smoking, having space, openness, understanding language, food variety, fruits, the beach, not envying milky skin, not caring about being hairy!, embracing tannedness, growing out my granny J haircuts, movies
Time to sleep. Tomorrow going to Harajuku. People's misconceptions about Japan are going to test my patience when I go home. I'm curious to witness the recent hype. After being here, I'm afraid what I have learned is that much of Japan understands little about what the US is really like, and much of the US understands little about what Japan is like.
Hawaii has more things Japanese than I ever realized. Some are available just as readily as in Japan. Sushi, onigiri at ABC stores. Any Japanese grocery you'd ever need at Daiei. Japanese goods and even Bookoff at Shirokiya. Some things unfortunately cost twice as much as in Japan. Saint Germain's bakery goods were like the Japanese ones but had an American look to them, rough versions.
Everyone speaks Japanese in Hawaii it seems. One second they're speaking English and the next they're speaking Japanese. Nobody even blinks. The Japanese tourists don't even seem surprised. I felt like such a simpleton.
There are many many more big people in Hawaii than in Japan. hehe.
I didn't get bitten by any mosquitos while in Hawaii!
I saw family that I haven't in a long time. I'm so glad. I lit incense and bowed three times for my ancestors.
I bought a watch. I feel older.
Today ESS Club asked me if they could visit me and stay at my house if they go on a trip to America. I said they could. Yikes!
Seize the food, for Japan is time-service only! In other words, this blog is to preserve, share, and make the most of my six months left living in Japan. Yes, I am obsessed with food. Cheap food!