Catch-up

Again, I am way too behind on things. I think I will have to resort to the horror that is point form catch-up.

August 31:

  • My first real typhoon rattles my windows and keeps me awake most of the night. After a series of changes to my schedule, I am supposed to go to city hall, then I will get driven to school. I ploughed through the driving rain on foot and emerged soaked at city hall. Soon after arriving, I am told my first day of school is cancelled. I have nothing to do all day at city hall except read and try not to fall asleep.
  • At 11:30, clear skies have rolled in and I can only ask, ‘Typhoon wa doku desu ka?’
  • September 1
    My first day of school at Hagishou. It’s a great building and the people there are very helpful and friendly. The kids are jubilant and inquisitive as could be. One boy, Kenta followed me around and tried to teach me some Japanese while also trying to absorb some English.
  • Takahashi-sensei and Koiwa-sensei are both good English speakers and did a good job of translating my many self-introductions.
  • The introductions went well and all the students introduced themselves back to me. A couple girls went so far as to ask me if I liked them. I went with the politically correct answer of saying that I liked them all.
  • I tutored Misuki after school with her Freddie the Leaf speech, or in her ever-so-cute case, Fweddie the Leaf.

September 2:

  • Back to Hagishou. They held a morning assembly to welcome me, the highlight of which was probably the welcome yelling/clapping/drumming.
  • The kids call Koiwa sensei ago-sensei. He has a strong jaw and they try to make fun of his chin. He, in turn, wrestles with them and shuts them up ever so briefly.
  • Kenta learned a couple English phrases to try to say to me like, ‘This is a present for you,’ At which point he would look around for anything he could hand to me.
  • I had lunch with Koiwa-sensei’s class where we talked about Canadian ways of doing things, Poland (Koiwa sensei spent three years there) and my ability to use chopsticks.
  • After lunch, I had my first real class with Takahashi-sensei. We taught the students the usage of ‘How many?’ then played a game where they had to janken (rock, paper, sciscors), then ask questions to their classmates.
  • I tutored after school again. Both Mizuki and Momo (her name means peach, how cool). Mizuki was doing okay, but Momo needed to memorize her speech more.

September 3:

  • A day spent at the BOE bugging Sarah until she went home sick. Guess I bugged her too much.
    That night was the Mizusawa party. Sarah wasn’t going to go since she was ill, but I twisted her rubber arm and she joined Jo, Brent, Alice and I for the ride North.
  • The dinner was great and there was a ton of vegetarian food for me to sample. And they had pineapple juice. Lots of it. I dreamed of South America.
  • Met a few of the second years, most notably Alicia and Jerry who live in Mizusawa.
    Had a good time joking around with everyone and continuing to build up a little social circle here.
  • Went back to Ichinoseki and hung out at Sarah’s until 3:00 am.

September 4:

  • Thanet woke me up at 9:00 am, as she was supposed to. I was supposed to go visit her and watch her in the festival in Shiwa, but she said it would be fairly dull for anyone not participating in it, so I stayed in Ichinoseki.
  • I tried to sleep more to no avail.
  • I got up and visited Sarah to take her some flowers and a bit of food for her weak stomach.
  • I then headed of to Gembikei Gorge on my bike for some photos and exploration.
    As I was hitching up my bike and pulling out my camera, a man with a horse and carriage came over to me and we eventually communicated with each other that he was offering me a free ride. I climbed aboard and he cranked up his stereo so that it was blaring themes from Western movies while the horses carted us past the gorge. Allergies aside, I was a lovely, hilarious ride.
  • I explored one small portion of the gorge and took a few photos, then I wandered in the direction of the flying dango. A woman who spoke good English befriended me and gave me some of her dango to sample. Not bad, but not necessarily worth the trip to the gorge for only some fancily-delivered rice paste.
  • I cycled back and met up with Sarah and Rachael. Again, we had to persuade Sarah, but we all ended up going to Kurt’s band’s show at the bunka centre. Their dramatic singer belted out some rock ditties while Kurt donned his rock star sunglasses to pound out the beats.
  • The next act was a group of 17-year-old high school students called The Joes playing three-chord punk rock. The singer was so full of energy. Just wicked. They sang Blitzkrieg Bop and made my night.
  • After the show, Rachael and Sarah made some yummy stir fry at Sarah’s. Kurt joined us and we watched my goofy movies from the Internet then watched Signs – Sarah squealed.

September 5:

  • I woke early to get to the train station where Gemma and her friend Homiko (damn if I could ever remember a Japanese name – I’m sure that’s wrong) picked Josh and I up to drive to Sendai.
  • First stop was the glorious Yodobashi electronics store. Good thing they don’t have one in Ichinoseki or I’d be broke.
  • Our whole day consisted of shopping, shopping, shopping. We checked out a number of book stores and some clothing stores. And anything else cool we could find. We embarked on a quest for the elusive domo-kun and at last we found him. My life is now complete.
  • I should mention the drag queen we saw in the underpass. Incredibly tall wearing a pink boa and a bikini, face painted white and eyes painted black. I was too intimidated to ask for a photo.
  • The domo-kun was found in a mall outside of Sendai’s downtown core. There we also hunted for Engrish shirts for Josh, but without much success.

September 6:

Monday and back to work. My first day of elementary school. I went to Yamanome Elementary school which isn’t all that far from city hall. One teacher there spoke very good English and served as a translator for the whole day, especially during my introductions to the kids. Predictably, the kids were cute as could be and they all loved the photos I brought from Calgary. I was interviewed by a few kids for the school paper. So cute. I ate lunch with them and while we didn’t talk much, due to the language barrier, I think they still liked having me there.

September 7:

  • Spent the morning at the BOE then took the bus out to Hondera Elementary school and all of its 38 students.
  • Karihara sensei guided me there with some photos he had taken earlier and I was able to make it to the bus stop without a problem.
  • I sat with some of the staff for a while and we tried to communicate, then I was ushered to the gym where we held our class.
  • I did a self-intro, then they introduced themselves very briefly. They were cute as could be. We played a game where they all got some miniature Canadian flags at the end of it (which were later attached to chopsticks and waved feverishly in my direction).
  • They then sang their school song that was just beautiful and nearly brought a tear to my eye.
  • Again I sat with some of the staff and then I was taken home by someone whose English was as bad as my Japanese. We attempted to converse while I had my nose buried in my phrasebook.

September 8:

  • Had fun with Sarah all day. She is great.
  • Well, yes, Sarah did write that, but she’s right too.
  • Anyway, yesterday was the speech contest so Sarah and I took the bus to the school and met up with Kurt, Josh and another ALT from Hiraizumi, Sean.
  • Tried not to fall asleep through all of the speeches, though some of them were quite entertaining, it was just that there were so many.
  • Sarah was quite pleased because all the students from Maikawa did rather well. A first for Kyoko, a first for Daichi and a second place finish in the original speech contest for Yusuke.
  • Josh walked home with us and we watched some BBC and Simpsons then we headed over to an enkai organized by the teachers’ association at La Marengo (a Japanese version of a French restaurant). Good times, good food.

Yay! I caught up. Mind you, reading all that would be pretty dull, but at least I’m no longer committed to transcribing some past events that I feel compelled to record for some reason. I’m free to write anything I like’

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