At Osaki JHS today. At lunch, a boy came up to me to tell me that he has two boyfriends. This is not the same boy who asks me if I think of him, but he gave me a similar look…I’m not liking the look of this. I watched the tennis team practice during lunch. Went running after school, saw some kids who seemed amazed that I could do anything outside of teach, and then went home. Semi-boring day.
I was split between two schools today. Osaki JHS was fine, no news. Osaki Elementary was crazy! Kids hanging from me, left and right. I taught them animal names, which they already seemed to know, so I’m guessing they were just using me as a babysitter today. I was super crazy with them and played multiple games of Simon Says, lifted each one into the air (multiple times), and acted out the animals during our lesson. I left the school, went home to eat, and then finished the night at Becca’s house (with Kyle) to watch a movie.
Woke up at 6am but slept until 9. No morning classes today, so it’s okay. Skyped home to Grandma and Grandpa, mom, John and Kalika. Cleaned my house a bit and then took off to teach my 1 class of the day. After school I went fishing but didn’t catch anything. The waves were fairly large and soaked me a bit. Went to the Sankyu mart and bought some new sweat pants, foods, etc. Made dinner and fell asleep.
I had 6 classes to teach today. I played hangman in 2 classes this morning, nearly forgetting how to spell handkerchief during one game. I’m just feeling out of it today. Today Takumi said, “I’ll kill you.” Just another thing to worry about. After work, I realized that I had a bounenkai (end of year party) after work. My big boss, Imoto-san, picked me up from home with Mizoguchi-san. At the party, we ate some great food.
|No chicken sashimi this time|
The guys all started talking to me about women, motorcycles, and breakdancing. We left and reconvened at a karaoke bar. Aiboshi went to school with the lady who owns the place, so I think she gave us a good deal.
|These are my insanely awesome BOE buddies!|
There were 3 women working the place, all over 45, and they were playing the part of the girls at the karaoke bar I went to in Kanoya.
One, in particular, was getting a little too touchy with me and I had to remind her that I could be her son. We actually had a great time. The owner made me sing a Christmas song with her, I impressed them with some Frank Sinatra, but I was blown away when the touchy lady sang my favorite anime song, Evangelion. It totally redeemed her as the coolest karaoke party girl ever. She even sang another anime song that had something to do with a submarine that could fly into space. Needless to say, most of the guys were absolutely smashed by the end of the night. Aiboshi drunkenly said, “This is my 2nd mother” instead of 2nd wife. Smoooooth dude. Got a ride home from Imoto-san and passed out.
|We went to Hotaru...right next to Girl's Bar Dope|
I actually woke up feeling great, despite my late night. It was raining all day and extremely windy. I went to my furthest school today, roamed the halls for a bit, teachers are coughing everywhere. I guess their face masks aren’t helping much, huh? My first class consisted of grade 6 elementary students, who were learning the alphabet. I nearly facepalmed myself. I finally found a nickname for the annoying kid who has an obnoxious laugh, Cartman. Other classes were fine. I had one class of new students, 4 months into the semester. During a free period, I walked into an art class with Cartman, and ate some of the pumpkin seeds off the counter to freak them out. I had asked in October if Japanese people cook pumpkin seeds and everyone said no. I’m guessing they were going to use these to grow crops, but now they have become snacks. I had two crying kids in other classes, taught an extra class because of boredom, and then went home. Played badminton tonight and that was it.
I went to a motorcycle shop, as directed by my buddy Nathan, and met a guy and his wife. They work on custom bikes, but specialize in creating custom Chevy trucks. The guys flies to LA during the year, gets a hotel near Compton, and buys old school cars, trucks, lowriders, you name it. He has a Chevy Suburban, and 5 other random trucks just sitting in his lot. Really nice, not much English, but we traded stickers and said we’d try to strike a deal about a motorcycle soon. Got a text from Justin about going snowboarding tomorrow and I jumped at the opportunity. Hurriedly went and did some snow shopping (gloves, neck warmer, long johns, etc.) and made it to Justin’s 2 hours away. We watched the end of Shawn White’s snowboard competition in China, which turned out to be a great comp.
We woke up at 4:30 and were out the door by 5am.
|Justin driving through the cloudy valley|
Drove to Oita, where the mountain/hill was, and I was able to rent a board, boots, pants, and goggles.
We both had loads of fun taking the 30 second run down man-made snow. On the chair lift, we were able to start some conversations with locals and they were curious about us. Justin taught me how to do a backside 180 off some small jumps. We ended around 12 noon and were given free rain-jackets by the staff at the front counter. We had merely asked how much they were (turns out they were 500 yen) and they said, “Present.” After all, it was only the 2nd day they had been open this season, so these were going to help them spread the word.
We stopped at a huge bus/trucker stop on the side of the highway and had lunch.
Justin and I both fell in love with a lady who worked in one of the restaurants. I got home around 10pm and realized I had a Christmas lesson to plan. Stayed up and got it done.
Multiple Christmas lessons today. I had the kids trace their hands on green paper, write their name and some Christmas wishes, and then we pasted them onto a huge sheet to create a tree. The kids loved it and I showed them how to make snowflakes. My teachers actually had lessons to teach, but dropped them when they saw how much fun it was. I graded some kids’ notebooks in between classes. For lunch I had 3 quail eggs in my soup. I watched kids play soccer during lunch recess and nearly fell asleep.
I tried to pay a bill to the bank for the 3rd time, but they were closed earlier than what was posted. Finished some of my language course test. Confirmed a snowboarding trip with Justin for next weekend in Hiroshima.
Sooooo cold this morning. There was ash on my windshield from Sakurajima (must have been some eruption). 2 classes at my first school. They took my school picture for their yearbook. I finished my language test and had a rare conversation with my principal from Hishida JHS. He didn’t know I was from California and seemed really nervous talking to me. I played basketball with the boys at lunch and made a halfcourt shot, which sent them to the ground laughing. Not sure why it was so funny, but I heard them bragging about it to their friends in the next class. This was also the lunch when my kids were yelling, "I'm coming, I'm coming" and grabbing their chest. Where are they learning this stuff?! Not long after I made my shot, they were assaulting the girls who were trying to play volleyball, with one-handed full-court shots.
Went to my 2nd school and sang, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” to my class…alone. That was a little weird, but they did clap for me. My vice-principal gave me a “Tokyo Banana.”
I drove toward Miyazaki tonight and found myself at a custom motorcycle shop. I was able to speak a bit with the owner and he gave me a cup of coffee while we talked about bikes. I gave him and his assistant an advent calendar and he let me take pictures around the place.
I was in complete bike heaven. Most of the bikes were old Harleys, but he had some Honda and Suzukis too.
Getting to Miyazaki I looked for a snowboard for next weekend, but they had nothing related to snowboarding. I take that back, they had 1 thing, which I bought, which was related to snowboarding. It is a DVD called, “Put Fuck the Lid Back Down.” I haven’t even seen it, but I’m almost certain it should have won an award for “Best Unintentional Documentary of Crazy Japanese Snowboarders.”
Drove home and passed out.
My hands are frozen this morning. There is frost on the ground and I have to scrape ice from my windshield. I really wasn’t expecting this in Japan.
During a couple of my classes, I was asked to tell the kids what to draw. So I made it interesting and had the kids draw natto in a toilet, a cat on my teacher’s head, a fish playing the piano, and some other random things. I actually had my JTEs laughing in hysterics today, it was so much fun to see.
|Student drawing: house with ramen under it, car (that had teacher with cat on it), toilet with natto, new teacher|
with cat picture, fish playing piano, another fish playing the piano.
I was invited to another bounenkai today, but it’s the same day as my Daiichi party. I was lucky enough to catch on film, and in pictures, boys during a PE class today. They were throwing a praying mantis at each other and then one of them began singing to me.
|One of the funniest kids at the school...with praying mantis on shoulder.|
I played volleyball at lunch and one of the girls asked, “How have you been?” When I answered, she looked so surprised, as if I wasn’t supposed to know English. I’m not sure what she was expecting to hear. After school I mailed my Japanese test at the post office. Got my MSN account running and was able to talk with Gian and the Metcalfes. Woke up Mikey in the process, but we had a good chat.
Super windy again this morning. My 1st class was out of it and didn’t have the attention span of a frozen grape. I had my 2nd class draw pictures of what I said. I had them draw a picture of Mr. Ueno (one of our teachers) standing on a car, natto in a toilet, and a cat on top of Mr. Ueno’s head...again (but a different class). The kids tend to perk up 500% when they’re allowed to draw during a lesson and they all participate. Maybe my JTEs should learn from this.
Went to Osaki Elementary in the afternoon and they were crazy. Had two classes combine, so I was teaching 57 students for an hour. It was nuts, to say the least. My most calm, awesome teacher unleashed his wrath on the kids 3 times. One of the boys got my attention by flipping me the bird. So, I had to ignore him for 10 minutes while he continued the same action.
At night I went to Becca’s where we met her boyfriend, Nick, and he made us a great dinner. We also watched the movie Prestige, which turned out to be more entertaining than I thought.
I got to my first school at 8:15am and they told me to come back at 11:45. I didn’t put up a fight and promptly sped home. Finally paid my bank bill, did laundry, and was able to talk to Kalika on Skype. Got back to the school for lunch, taught one class, and was done for the day. After class, the kids took me outside to pick vegetables from their garden. One of the kids found a frog and others were busy playing with snails.
|One of the girls who takes me to explore the playground during recess.|
Drove to Justin’s after work and we made shabu shabu on his stovetop. Watched the DVD I bought, Put Fuck the Lid Back Down and it turned out to be a bunch of Japanese goons just trying everything. But, the snow in Hokkaido, where they mostly rode, was INSANE!!! Justin and I were both freaking out about how powder-y and deep it was. Went to bed but could barely sleep in anticipation of snowboarding in a day.
Woke up at 7:30 and drove to Fukuoka where we met Justin’s friend Jamina. Super cool girl who showed us around Fukuoka. I found a used board, boots, bindings, board bag, and jacket for about $100 US. I’m also using the word ‘used’ loosely, since it didn’t look like the board or boots had been used more than once, if at all. What a deal.
Jamina took us to an Italian restaurant where we demolished 3 pizzas. They had a brick oven and made them with some amazing cheeses.
I was also able to find more TimTams while wandering through the city. We finally boarded our bus to Hiroshima at 10pm and met a guy from couchsurfing.com who had actually paid for our bus and snowboarding tickets (this is without having met either of us). His name is Jet and I’m sure we’ll both be boarding with him in the future. He’s originally from Singapore and is now working as an engineer in Japan. He speaks nearly fluent English, Mandarin, and Japanese. We all talked for a bit, but then passed out.
Got to the mountain around 6am and everyone from the bus followed a line into a small heated room. Since the lifts weren’t going to open for 2 more hours, we all slept on the ground. We were on the mountain by 8:10 and got a ton of runs in.
|Justin, Jet, and me|
We also video-taped each other and I, unfortunately, pulled some muscles in my wrist trying to copy Justin on a jump. So, I was out for the day.
We ate lunch and took a nap in the changing room. Then Jet and Justin went to get a few more rides in. The snow was primarily man-made, but there was a decent amount of it and they opened the top lift early enough to have a good time. Once, Justin and Jet were done, we went to an onsen and soaked for a bit. They even had two huge bathtubs outside, that were made from huge tree trunks. We probably could have fit 8 or 9 people in the biggest one.
We boarded the bus at 5:30pm, got to Fukuoka by 10:30 and then headed for Justin’s house. Got to his place at 2:30am (Monday morning now) and I drove to my place. I took a 30 minute rest on the side of the road and finally made it to my house at 5:30am. Great, work at 8:15.
I got to my school and found out I had 5 classes to teach today. I think I was so loopy and tired that I actually had great lessons. But, I barely remember anything. Got home, made myself stay awake until 6, took a bath, had a glass of wine, and was asleep by 7:30.
I woke up at 6 (nearly 11 hours of sleep) and was ready to tackle the day. I just wasn’t ready for the two 6 year old boys who pointed and grabbed their crotches while saying, “Chi Chi!” Luckily, my second school mostly consisted of Japanese Christmas songs being sung throughout the hallways.
After school I went for a walk and then went grocery shopping for 2 hours. Got home, made food, watched a movie and passed out.
|A patch I saw while shopping. "Peed Parking" Don't ask me, I don't know either.|
My first class: I greeted them with English for 2 minutes and then my JTE talked in Japanese for 43 minutes while I just stood there. My next class was funny and one of the boys kept blowing me kisses from the back of the room (as he usually does). We also sang “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” in English and I was surprised at how great they sounded.
My 3rd class was by far the best class I have had in a while. Immediately, one of my students starts talking to me about girlfriends and intentionally ruining English words. At one point, while we were pronouncing the word “Rule,” he just went nuts on facial expressions and said something like ‘rule’ but sounded much funnier. I caught myself from laughing out loud, but he kept doing the same noise and I honestly lost it. I finally let it out and laughed extremely hard in the middle of class. I don’t think my JTE knew what was going on so everything stopped and all eyes on me. I was trying to hide myself with a piece of paper, but the class burst into laughter as I opened the door and walked into the hallway to get my laughs out. Even when I came back inside, I did the whole, trying to pronounce the words but knowing I’m just going to laugh again so just stop, thing. I politely excused myself to the back of the class, away from the one student, and taught from behind everyone. It actually worked and the kids paid more attention than usual. When I got my composure back, I walked to the front of the class and the funny kid (not Takumi, mind you) says, “I will wait at love hotel tonight. Lets shall we go?” At least he’s using his new words ‘lets’ and ‘shall.’ Japan NEEDS its own reality TV show that takes place in rural elementary and junior high schools. Absolutely epic things happen everyday.
At my afternoon school, we had 2 Christmas lessons that consisted of making snowflakes and learning the names of Santa, Mrs. Claus, snowman, elf, and stocking. I also played a mix CD of Christmas music for them to listen to while they worked. I didn't hear one peep.
|Hard at work|
They were so engrossed with cutting their pieces of paper, I almost couldn't believe these were elementary students.
|Kids with my JTE|
After school I met up with Kyle, Becca, and her boyfriend Nick at our favorite okonomiyaki place. The food was better than I had remembered and we had a good time speaking English. I followed Kyle to his house so I could borrow a Santa outfit and we decided to have a honking contest. He definitely won by honking his horn for a straight minute while passing houses and other cars. I laughed so hard that I cried. It’s days like these that I live for. Thank you Japan.
I bought kerosene fuel for my heater today and it’s working great. As I type, I don’t have to wear more than 3 layers and my feet aren’t numb. This is amazing, although I don’t think breathing these fumes is going to be great for me.