HA HA BITCHES, I HAVE INTERNET IN MY HOUSE!
More to come.
Couple items of interest:
Can`t say I`m not grateful, but I was left scratching my head.
Oh, also, comments should work now. MovableType confused me a bit, but should be okay.
First up: I updated my flickr page with photos of Nikko, which I went to this weekend. Really beautiful place, lots of temples. I went with my USC friend Ananda, who’s over in Japan for a bit, and my friends Jamie and Sarah.
One of the most common questions I get from you all in email is â€œWhat’s freaking you out most about Japan?â€ The answer is, by far, the fact that they drive on the left side of the road. I don’t know where to look to avoid being run over, I tend to cross by people on the incorrect side, and I have repeatedly thought I was going to die while riding in a car, because other cars were on the wrong side of the road.
But there’s a lot of other weird stuff, too. Here’s a list:
Okay, bear with me, it`s been a long couple weeks, and my brain is very scrambled right now, I need to just blather for a minute.
I am still having massive internet problems; it looks like it’ll be another two weeks at least, maybe more. It blows. But for right now, I have a bit of time and am able to write a decent blog entry.
So, basically, I am living in Ryugasaki, a smallish town, about 80,000 people, 50 minutes northeast of Tokyo. It’s about the size of New Albany. This is a bit deceiving, though, as Japanese towns are almost right next to each other. Ryugasaki actually used to be five different towns, and just ended up merging. This is not uncommon. It’s already really difficult to tell where one town ends and the other begins.
I am teaching at three schools. The main one is my middle school, Nagayama Junior High, or Nagayama Chuugakkou. I teach there Wed-Friday, have 3-4 classes a day, and manage to teach one class to each of the students in the school per week. I also teach at two elementary schools, Nagayama Elementary (Mondays) and Matsuba Elementary (Tuesdays). All of them are really close to each other — Nagayama E is 5 minutes walking from my house, Nagayama JH is 10 minutes, and Matsuba is 15-20. Everyone is incredibly sweet and wonderful to me.
Teaching so far has been very light, because I came just as all of the schools were gearing up for their sports festivals — they are called taikusai for junior high and undoukai for elementary, but I have kind of been using them interchangeably, because I am an ignorant American. Now, these things are unreal. They’re unlike anything I had growing up. Every single student in the entire school gets involved in this giant track-and-field show, forming human pyramids and jumping rope and coming up with their own dance routines. The elementary school undoukais are pretty much a dog-and-pony show, but the junior high taikusai is INTENSE. They get split up into three teams, and compete in around 18 different events, for points. Everything from relay races, to cheer contests, to three-legged races (with around 10 people tied to each other), to forming human bridges and making the smallest classmates run across it as fast as possible. The losing teams cried. So did the winners. They couldn’t even do their speeches. I uploaded some pictures, but I also have video, which I’ll try to upload at some point.
After the taikusai, all the teachers went out for a drinking party, also called an enkai. This was great fun, and everyone tried their damndest to get me drunk. I was getting there, but Japanese alcohol is pretty weak, or at least, the stuff I’ve had. We went to karaoke afterwards, and they insisted I sing English songs. I told them, I really only like to sing angry songs, and they were fine with that… so, in front of a bunch of old Japanese men in business suits, I did my most gutteral Linkin Park. They got really into it, clapping and jumping up and down. Some of the younger teachers moshed a little bit. It was… weird. Fun, but… weird. The rest of the teachers were singing old anime theme songs — like Doraemon, Gatchaman, Fist of the North Star, Akira, and Rurouni Kenshin. It was bizarre.
There are five other foreigner teachers in my town, and they’re all… full of character. In order, they are:
Basically, I have been giving my self-introduction steadily to all my classes, which has been the plan for almost every single class I’ve taught so far. I managed to get almost everything onto my computer, so I do an iPhoto slideshow, with my reel as the final part. Parts that the kids go wild for:
Bizarro questions I’ve been asked so far:
Alright, gotta run, hopefully that’ll tide y’all over.
I climbed Mount Fuji today. Well, yesterday and today. We met up at 2 pm, started climbing around 8 pm, and got to the top around 4 am. It was so cold that people were sleeping in the bathroom for warmth. It took 3 hours of solid walking to get down. It hurt an insane amount. It is very much a once-in-lifetime opportunity, because I can’t imagine anyone stupid enough to go back for seconds.
I also saw some sumo wrestlers practicing. They were very nice, even made us lunch, which was delicious, even if they did force-feed me umeboshi (I escaped the natto at least). Later on, we went drinking with two of them — Tetsuhikari (I think it translates to Steel Light), and some other guy whose name escapes me.
I also learned to ride a bike. It’s been very difficult, but I’m finally okay at it.
I am tired beyond human comprehension. Pictures here.