It’s been a couple days! My apologies! For the most part they’ve been uneventful.
I came to a couple realizations on Friday, mostly about teaching and working with teachers, and have been mulling over some stuff while being a hermit. But today I decided I’d go out and do stuff (after a friend dragged me out yesterday to go on a 20 minute walk that ended up being around 2 hours). The plastic-y sole of my shoes have somehow been shredding slowly and entering the inside of my shoe as I walk, so I guess it’s about time I retired them, and I wanted to see if I could find the vocabulary textbook the first years are using and pick one up for myself. Mission one: new shoes was successful, but mission two not so much.
Instead, I ended up wandering the Seiyu at the station and playing with puppies, popping by the Can-Do, and afterwards, the Daiso to grab a few extra things that would be useful.
I also picked up a couple new friends! No names yet, but I’m open to suggestions!
Question for everyone: WHAT IS THIS PLANT AND HOW DO I CARE FOR IT?!?
Today I went out to Tachikawa to meet with a friend of a friend who had been living in Japan for the past two years~ It was good to meet her! We had a good time, and ate some really good food!
Tomorrow will be the first day I see the students since the cultural festival! I’m spending the end of today prepping for classes tomorrow, preparing to do my “do you think an English lunch once a week is a good idea” battle and my “please let me try this game in class” begging, and getting my list ready so that if a student from a certain class asks me I can remember what each class did! It’s a little hard sometimes!
I also get to try team-teaching round 3 tomorrow, and since 1st time we ran out of time, it can only get better from here?!
These pictures are from September 14th. I had just returned home from cultural festival exhausted and ready to go through pictures while sleepily eating dinner, but then I heard the sound of taiko drumming and had to go outside to investigate. Turns out, the local shrine near me (down the street) was having it’s yearly festival!
I Odaibaed today! It was awesome! I went with a couple fellow JETs and it was pretty cool. Odaiba’s pretty nifty, and I was able to ride the giant ferris wheel, take pictures of their mini statue of liberty, and do a bit of shopping, but I still don’t know why the rainbow bridge is called the rainbow bridge when there’s nothing rainbow about it.
I was pretty psyched to get to see the Fuji TV building, since it’s been something I wanted to see every since my digimon-fan days. What I hadn’t realized was that at night, it became even more of a sight to see!
We also got to see the giant gundam, which is seriously big. The building behind it is a 7 floor mall, and it’s a bit forward so there’s a bit of perspective happening but I’d imagine it’s at least 4 stories tall! Afterwards, we also went to see the Statue of Liberty, which we walked to while singing what we could remember of the Star Spangled Banner (which on my end, isn’t much) sounding thoroughly drunk even though we were completely sober.
All in all, Odaiba Day was a success! Next trip looks like it’ll be Kamakura, and then we’ll start looking at bigger trips around Tokyo!
I’m not entirely sure if news has spread or something, but students have been asking me left and right to take selfies with me. It’s ok, I suppose – they’re cute, and so close to my age that I can’t see it as anything but selfies with friends, but I sorta wonder if this is the kind of thing that I shouldn’t be doing. I don’t look western either, so for that I apologize. Maybe I should dye my hair or grow second eyelids or get a new face but until that day, my kids will just have to deal with it.
On a separate note, I spent today relaxing and skyping with people until it was time to meet for the post-cultural festival nomikai (or drinking party). The party was a lot of fun – it always is, with my fellow teachers being really great. Many try to speak English, but once they discover I have a tentative handle on Japanese, they start spewing that at me too in rapid fire. It’s a good way to connect with teachers, and even though I myself was never a huge drinker (I still remember the taste of that one time I overdid it and never again. Really, never again), it’s a good way to interact with teachers you can’t normally speak to.
In my case, it’s just a good chance to speak to teachers without worry of student interference (once the students turn the corner, it’s like I go Japanese illiterate again, so I revel the times when I don’t have to worry about pretending I don’t understand any Japanese).
I was successfully able to receive invitations to visit the P.E. class, history class, biology, cooking/homemaking in general class, math, and the physics class. I had been hesitant before to just pop in as I feel like I should give teachers a warning, but now that I know some of their names, hopefully it’ll be easier! In any case, apparently everyone has the next few days off, which I hadn’t realized before. The next day of work is on Friday, so I will gladly take advantage of these next few days and meet with other JET friends in the wards, relive my Odaiba digimon dreams, chill with another anime-lover (finally!) and maybe make another attempt to bike to the grocery store!
I’ve also been itching to karaoke…I went out to the drinking party’s after party today too, and maybe when I am close enough to the teachers I can propose a karaoke thing soon!
(This picture is a picture of the view from my school the other day. You can vaguely see the mountains in the distance. This isn’t the Fuji-san view from the swimming pool, but now that I’ve extracted an invitation to see the gym class
/even more of my students shirtless, I will try to catch the Mt. Fuji view from the swimming pool next time!)
Fun stuff that happens with teachers:
Cultural Festival Day 2~
My kids worked so hard! I had a wonderful time at the cultural festival, and I didn’t even do anything really! I have a truly talented bunch of kids, who I am half convinced were hell bent on making me eat all of the unhealthy things this weekend. As it is, I had the most sauce drenched, but delicious, hot dog, a shaved ice with condensed milk and strawberry flavoring, a homemade cheesecake and brownies. I also managed to try the bubble tea that another class was selling - the only one I missed was the gyoza…I do regret it, but I was also so very full! A student from the American food stand also gifted me with what I think is a dog but might be a bear balloon animal! I wish I had caught his name OTL
The picture on the bottom right is of the three month old project the art class and art club had been working on. There are 40 boards in total, and it’s a commemoration of a sort to the artist, who’s birthday was 100 years ago today (or something like that). In any case, it’s made entirely of little slivers of paper, glued together and then mod-podged (or something) to protect it from the rain (and it truly rained so hard last night). I popped by to help out a couple times - my contribution is somewhere on on the top right corner of the window haha!
The students put on wonderful dances and skits and performances, and in the words of a colleague “the teacher band is, as expected, awesome too”. The energy the students put into being in the audience for the bands is amazing, and the way students from their classes will crowd the front to provide support and cheer their classmates on is also amazing.
I had a wonderful time, and I hope I can become closer with the students and really get to know them! Especially their names! Names are so hard~!
Cultural Festival Day 1~
I have some seriously talented kids!!! It’s incredible, I with I could share the videos and pictures with you all! The first years put on some hilarious plays, a number of students did dances and variety shows, and we have some interesting cooks! I also got to try another bubble tea, via class 2-4! Apparently we also have something like 20 different rock band groups, and I heard renditions of Zankoku na Tenshi, Shura, asterisk, rolling star, ikimonogakari’s Hanabi, and a slew of other songs!
I wish I could share all the pictures of the students and their performances but alas, I suppose we’ll settle for pictures of the student’s work! These are signboards from each classroom, made to represent the class and their contribution to cultural festival.
If I’m only here for one year, this will be my one and only cultural festival and somehow, that makes me incredibly sad. I wish as a high schooler I had been able to have this experience – there are many things that people say about the ‘group’ mindset of the Japanese, but nothing is cuter than a homeroom of students working hard together to make something. My students (and teachers, for that matter!) spent all of yesterday and the day before doing nothing but cultural festival preparations, and their hard work really shows! Something like this would have worked in America under extreme coercion, or in select groups, but I think this is one of those things that it’s really a shame we miss out on as high schoolers.
The festival has left me with a feeling I haven’t had in years – that feeling as a child that pushes you to hide with your friends because you don’t want the party to end. There’s no name for it, as far as I know, but even though the festival continues tomorrow watching all the students clean and all the visitors leave today really brought back that old feeling for me. I think it might be magnified, these days, because there’s so much I want to share with people back home, so much I wish I could experience with them, even though it’s impossible. I’ll work on this, maybe, and there’s a slight possibility this is the ‘homesickness’ stage starting to set in.
For those who didn’t hear the news, I successfully biked to the grocery store today, and I didn’t even kill anybody. It was a glorious day.
I also managed to air out my futon but I definitely messed up when I left it there for my trip to Book-Off. By the time I returned home it was dark, and darkness means bugs which means I had to violently spank my futon a few more times lest I wanted to bring inside a couple new friends. Even though I did my best, I nevertheless had to go back over my futon later with a tissue. I hate bugs.
But really, I have never felt so fulfilled from riding a bike! I also considered riding it to the train station, but ended up walking - good thing too. The bike parking is incredibly crowded, filled with the bikes of students and workers and everything in between. I will need to figure out a way to make my bike super recognizable, or I’ll never be able to find it among all the other bicycles there (it’s only recognizable feature right now is the rust on the basket).
The sky is beautiful as always!
In other news, the school Cultural Festival (or 文化祭, read as bunkasai) begins tomorrow!
I so wish I had taken a couple good shots for this festival…as it is, I can’t use these pictures at this quality for my portfolio page. Please forgive the quality - these are actually screenshots as I had chosen to video tape the festival instead of take pictures.
In any case, I had the good fortune to happen upon information about Ninomiya Shrine’s Midautumn Festival yesterday! I had seen a crowd of people carrying the mikoshi (portable shrine, pictured here!) from the main street in my area while on the way home and figured there must be a festival soon! I was right, and the festival was today! Every year, on September 9th, Ninomiya shrine hosts this festival. In Japanese, it is called 二宮神社の秋季例大祭, read as ninomiyajinja no shouki reitaisai. It is one in three consecutive big Akiruno festivals, all in the month of September!
I also ran out of batteries really quickly so I failed to capture all of it, but the streets were lined with stalls featuring food, shaved ice, fish, terapins, crepes, and festival games. There were kids running amok and girls in pretty yukata, and I have never seen my area so alive before!
I also saw some students! I really wonder if it’s as horrifying for the students, to see their teachers outside of school, as it is for teachers. Or if it’s just me? I also bumped into one of my JTEs and his family. His daughters are adorable, as always, and the one of my students also helped me pick a shaved ice flavor!
Just before this, I had actually been a train station away, picking up a new camera lens for my baby! It was only 21 USD, and it’s a 80-200 lens. I may go back for the other lens that was there, a 70-300 lens, maybe after my next paycheck! But for now, I look forward to using the 80-200 at the school festival this weekend!
8 September, 2014
These days, the sun sets just as I am leaving my school. When winter really sets in, the sun will be down before I leave, I hear, but today at least, I got to see the sunset as it turned the whole sky red-orange-gold. It’s been raining for the past couple of days, and will probably rain again tomorrow.
The students have been busily preparing for the cultural festival this weekend, and it really is a lot of fun walking around just talking to them and seeing what they’re up to. I look forward to seeing the final product!
On a side note: I think I may be digging myself into another ditch, as per usual. The elementary schools near by have been requesting my presence, apparently, as the local JET. I don’t mind it, but it seems like I might be sent to 4 different elementary schools once a week, every week…I feel like I’m going to end up running myself ragged like that. Nothing new - I’m used to multitasking jobs, I suppose, but I really did want to focus my attention on Fussa High School.
I’ll put those worries aside for now, and just enjoy the view a little from here.