Today is a ‘Sports Day’ holiday. I thought I was going to have a taiko performance, but thankfully it was yesterday. I went out for a drive and ended up motorcycle searching again.
Saw some more great bikes, but this language gap is going to be a problem when it comes to business time. I’m sure it’ll work itself out somehow, but I’ll have to study a bit before walking into the shop again. That was pretty much all I did today. Went home, made dinner, and watched a movie before bed.
At school, the teachers kept coming up to tell me how great I did at taiko. I had one of my teachers write me a note to tell me how much it ‘moved’ him. He wrote it in three different sentences to make sure it came across the way he wanted.
One of my teachers asked me to bring in examples of American food sizes vs Japan food sizes. After thinking about it a bit, I started to realize that a lot of the meals I would eat at home were comparable, if not smaller, in size to the meals I normally eat in Japan. Especially when I cook for myself, the meals are typically smaller. In Japan, a ‘typical meal’ consists of a plate of rice, bowl of soup (tofu, vegetables, sometimes meat), a pickled vegetable/fruit dish, a mixed dish of meat and vegetables, one serving of milk, and sometimes a desert cup. I have a tough time finishing many of the school lunches because there is so much food. It’s the content of the food that varies the most. If you study someone who eats out in America, the size and content will probably be much different. The portions of red meat and grams of fat are most likely going to be much higher in the US, where the portions of fish and vegetable will be greater in Japan. I am worried, though, about the sodium intake here. There are many salty broths/soups, there are pickled vegetables, and a lot of the meats they serve are distinctly salted. When I make food in the states, I refuse to add salt to my meals, but instead substitute pepper. Of course this is different from other Americans, but from my standpoint I’m a bit worried about what I’m feeding my body out here. Perhaps it’s the TV shows of eating challenges, cheap fast food, and Big Gulps that Japan associates with American food.
I have strayed from my initial train of thought. After being given this assignment, I actually had a difficult time finding size comparisons between the US and Japan. However, there was plenty of information comparing nutrition. The only thing I could think to do was exploit the fast food aspect of American culture and show a few clips from ‘Super Size Me.’ But, my region 1 DVD didn’t work, so she just asked me questions about what I eat at home. I had previously told her I don’t eat fast food, besides the occasional In-n-Out burger and burrito. So when she asked the students to raise their hands if I eat fast food multiple times in a week, they were surprised to see that it wasn’t the case. It’s nice to be able to say that I have a family that likes to cook instead of eat out all the time. When I listed the foods I like to eat and cook, I think that it not only impressed the students, but gave then a completely different idea of the cultural influences throughout the US. They’re so used to associating hamburgers and hotdogs with us, that they haven’t imagined the amount of Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, and countless other cultural shops we have at our disposal. I think I could dedicate an entire month to teaching about the different foods someone can eat in Southern California. That is an incredible realization for me.
Anyway, I hope you're ready for another Takumi story. You remember, the boy who likes to ask me fairly inappropriate questions? Somehow I got placed to sit at his table during lunch. Immediately, he looks at me and says, 'Do you think about me?' Where is he coming up with this stuff!? Then, I find the culprit. It's a tissue box.
|Takumi and his partner in crime on the right|
One of the girls in the class has cleverly decorated many tissue boxes and hopefully that's the only source of Takumi's crazy questions. The kids get all silly when they see me take a picture and want their's taken too...here they are.
|By far one of my favorite student photos|
Hey ma! It’s your birthday in Japan! I had two schools today. My first began with crazy elementary students screaming, ‘Niko Niko Sensei!!!’ before I got out of my car. They rushed out of the school to jump on me, hold my hands, and run in circles around me. It’s going to be one of THOSE energetic days, huh? All turned out well and I got to hear the kids singing in the hallways again. The second school was the same, filled with screaming kids. It wasn’t bad, but they’re figuring out how to wear me out even faster.
Happy real birthday momma-san! Not too bad at the schools today. Played soccer with some of the boys at lunch and nearly took a kid’s head off on a shot. Now they won’t stand in front of me when I shoot. Got to Skype mom after they had dinner. Sounds like they had some good food that I’m very much missing. Went for a run after classes were over and my leg acted up again.
At 7, Shinmiya picked me up for the party with the Rotary Club guys. I had made him a CD earlier this week and he had it playing in the car. How do I describe my emotion being driven to a party by a Japanese guy, in Japan, we can’t communicate, and Dick Dale’s ‘Night Rider’ starts to play. That was so cool. The party was actually more fun than I was imagining.
They had a 5-course meal accompanied by beer and shochu. I did a great job of limiting the alcohol intake, but others were definitely getting their red-glow on. The guys in the club are great. There’s a restaurant owner, veterinarian who named his girls Cheetah and Lion, and a really cool music guy who wouldn’t stop throwing band names at me to see if I knew their music. I made some friends.
After the party, Shinmiya took me home and invited me to play badminton with his family the next night. Sure, why not!?
Yes, I get hours of sleep tonight!