Monday, November 29, 2010

November 16th - 28th - It's a biggie

November 16th
I was observed by my BOE (Masuyama-san) at my base school.  I made up some pictures of famous people and slowly showed the kids the pictures.  They had to guess occupations, sports, spouses, etc. and I would give hints.  It went well and the only criticism they had was for me to repeat words 3 times instead of two.  I taught another lesson using the phrase, “-go to” and had a funny boy in the back of the class say, “Go to hell!”  Then after all the laughter he said, “Go to Heaven.”  At least he’s learning something here.  We also asked the kids what they would do if they were rich, to which some students said: buy a Ferrari, become a singer, build a castle, and go to America.  During a spelling game, one of the kids was writing words on the board and accidentally wrote “Dank.”  I had to take a picture of it and was immediately swarmed with questions about what it meant.  

I told them that it was a slang word that meant “cool” and they seemed happy with that answer.  At lunch, I had a few boys yelling my name and asking me to come towards them.  When I got over there, they started pointing at everything in the room and saying, “That’s dank!  That’s dank!”
I made a lesson for Daiichi after school and called it a night.

November 17th
Not much to report on today.  At lunch I had a couple boys asking me tons of questions in broken English.  He was asking something about math, but I misheard him say mouse and mouth.  Supposedly, that’s the funniest mistake anyone has ever made because the entire class wouldn’t stop laughing.  After the laugh session, I walked by some other boys who started to say, “Do you like Coke?”  I said, “No, I don’t drink soda.”  Then they asked, “LSD, acid, marijuana?”  Ohhh, THAT coke.  I still have no idea where they are learning these things. 
Went for a run after work and passed out watching a movie. 

November 18th
I brought the cards the teacher had asked me to make last week and was told that we weren’t going to do the lesson.   This has to be some sort of patience test.  "How many things can we make the foreigner do, that are really annoying, before he acts like a total American and gets pissed at everything?"  Instead, we played the “Who Am I?” game.  When I started revealing a picture of Ryo Ishikawa (Japanese golfer) a girl SCREAMED his name at the top of her lungs.  I jumped in fright and she immediately turned red from embarrassment of her intense answer.  I guess that’s better than an entire class of kids who won’t say a single word.

November 19th
I taught at Osaki Elementary today, the most genki (energetic/happy/insane) school on my list.  

Another day of holding hands with 6-8 little girls at any given point and boys pushing my butt, back, and yanking on my sleeves.  
Happy kids at lunch recess

We played baseball for a while and then I drew them a picture of Spongebob in the dirt. 
I went to badminton tonight and practiced with the kids.  Afterward, I tried to teach them breakdancing moves.  After failing with the worm and I somehow managed to do my first complete set of windmills (3 to be exact). 
I met up with Kyle and Becca after practice and we had a little party together. 

Since we hadn't had any, Kyle decided to make cat sashimi.  Becca was eagerly waiting for the first bite.  (This is a joke)

November 20th
Woke up early in the morning and went fishing at my surfspot.  There were a few people in the water and only one other guy occupying the rocks.  I took a spot near him and we both caught a good amount of fish.  

None of mine were desirable fish, so I threw them back, but I did hook up with something big that snapped my line after it dove into the rocks. 

Left from fishing and stopped at the Softbank store to finally receive my iTunes gift card.  I went home and had a Facetime party with the guys and Miriam back home. 
November 21st
I woke up early and went on a long drive today.  Stopped at a little antique swap meet but didn’t find anything worth buying.  Drove home and slept for a good while.  Woke up and went to movie night at Becca’s with Kyle.  We watched Benjamin Button, yet another movie that didn’t leave us happy at the end.  Maybe we should re-name movie night to, “Depress yourself into sleep night.”

November 22nd
Had ½ day of teaching at Hishida JHS, but it took forever to get through.  I went to the BOE in the afternoon with nothing noteworthy. 
At night, we had a nabe party to celebrate Kat's almost born child.  The food was great and it turned out to be a lot of fun.  
I just found out tonight, that Kat had her baby over the weekend.  Congrats!

November 23rd
Today is Japan’s “Labour Thanksgiving Day” holiday so I spent most of it at a festival in Asuparu (where I play badminton).  I saw nearly all of my kids and gave them some money for a fundraiser.  
Girls who stole me away
A group of girls took me into a line with them to get some free black pork soup and then I was nabbed by a group of boys who took me to a little lookout spot to spy on girls.  Kyle came to check out the scene and we even ran into some of his friends.  While we were talking, we met an ex-kamikaze pilot who politely introduced himself by grabbing my genitals and saying how he can’t get ‘get up’ anymore.  Nice to meet you too. 
Went for a run after the festival on a new route and saw a lot of my elementary kids coming back from the festival.  I also found a cool little shrine that was made in a little forest between two houses. 
I had a BBQ that night with chicken and vegetables, outside my house and listened to music and watched the stars.
Cabbage, green peppers, onions, and chicken

I was scared half to death when my neighbor came out of the darkness and said something in Japanese I couldn’t understand.  She brought me a home-made okinomiyaki that was the best I had tasted. 
Greatest okinomiyaki ever!

November 24th
Today is the first day of our mid-year seminar in Kagoshima City.  Kyle and I were going to drive together but were offered a ride from Ryan again.  Super nice of him to do so, since Kyle and I wanted to have a beer or two on the way.  We left around 6:30am since the first meeting started at 12:15.  Kyle had the ‘wonderful’ idea of mixing shochu with our coffee and it definitely woke me up.  A highball, schochu, some donuts and we were ready for the ferry ride across the bay. 
Kyle admiring the shrubbery on our pit-stop

Kyle and I met up with some other JETs at a building where they allow re-entry permits for internationals.  We got that business taken care of and headed to our first meeting.  Shortly after, everyone was ready to be done for the day and we found a beer vending machine on the 6th floor.  It only had two beers left, so we split them among the 5 of us.  After the meetings, Kyle and I met with Lily, who was letting us stay in her cute little apartment.  We went to dinner with other JETs at an American food place.  They had hamburgers, tacos, and burritos…definitely an American food menu.  The burgers actually tasted like home, so that brought some joy.  

They had also decorated the place with an American theme.  Original action figures from ET were in the bathroom (which creeped me out a bit), they had Newport Beach, Malibu, and other popular destinations drawn on the walls, and even hard to find vinyls of the Beastie Boys were hung on the walls.  
Random restaurant that advertises their heimlich skills...and steak and beer

We soon found our little group in a karaoke place, singing our hearts out.  Somehow, we managed to sing for 2 or 3 hours.  Around 3:30am, Kyle and I were walking back to Lily’s.  Taking a look at our gps, it looked close enough to reach in 15 minutes by foot.  After 30 minutes, we caught a taxi ride and were there shortly. 
November 25th
We woke up to the sound of a nuclear power plant siren, which turned out to be Lily’s alarm clock.  Kyle and I found ourselves lying on futons in the kitchen.  I think we felt as good as a 3 hour sleep could feel.  Drank too much coffee, and survived the first few lectures.  My favorite lecture, though, was hosted by Asher and Badillo.  They gave a full demo of filleting a mackerel and de-boning it, literally saying, “Take the bones out with your boner.”  Epic. 
The day finished slower than hoped, but we were all hanging in there.  We went to Amu Plaza, a huge mall that has been decorated in Christmas fashion, and spent too much money at an international food shop.  
Welcome to the "Winter Heartland"

I found 3 different types of TimTams, Haribo candy, and Advent calendars for some of the people back in Osaki. 
Our ride home was filled with jokes and personal criticisms, but we had a great laugh and enjoyed each-others’ company.  Upon reaching my own home, I found a letter in my mailbox that said I had 5 classes to teach the next day.  Not what I was hoping for, but at least I’d get more than 3 hours of sleep.

November 26th
The first lesson was to introduce shopping and the kids did great at picking up the new words.  My second class had the kids exploring the school’s field.  They would find a plant, tree, or shrub and we would teach them the English name for it.  Then they drew pictures and presented them to the class at the end of the period.  During that time, I also showed them how to use blades of grass to make a loud whistle.  All the kids tried, but kept making farting noises.  I thought my teacher was going to die, he was laughing so hard.  The kids were too frustrated to notice, though, and kept making farting noises.  My teacher laughed until he stopped breathing, which caused me to fall on the ground in laughter as well. 
Later in the day, I noticed one of the little boys wearing knee-high socks that said, “Spicy Girl.”  He had found a cat during our plant excursion and held it in the most uncomfortable position I have ever seen a cat held. 
The cat is now seeing his 9 lives flash before his eyes

The kids would throw the cat 6 or 7 feet away from them (in the grass) and it would turn around and run back to them.  The cats here might have 8 or 10 screws loose. 
After school I wanted to sleep so bad, but remembered that I had a bounenkai with my coworkers.  We met at a local Osaki restaurant and had more nabe.  The food wouldn’t quit coming and they seemed a bit disappointed that I only drank non-alcoholic beer tonight.  I had to explain that I was driving later and couldn’t drink.  Three or four of the guys got smashed and began to ask if I had a hairy chest, if I was going to a sex party, and if they could come.  Yes, no, no…but they still asked to come 3 or 4 more times.  Maybe some other time. 
We noticed a group of girls at a table next to ours and went to talk with them.  It turned out to be all school nurses and I remembered one of them from a school of mine.  They said multiple times that they were single and this did nothing but make one of the drunk guys crazier.  He ran to his little man-purse and pulled out candles.  He explained that they are hot burning candles and he likes to drip them on his body.  Then he looked at me and said, “I’m freaky.”  I swear, it has been a pleasure eating nabe and drinking non-alcoholic beer with you all, but I must be on my way.  Have a wonderful evening and good luck with the single ladies. 
I left and headed to Kyle’s house.  I picked up a couple beers and picked up Becca at her house.  We went and drank in Kyle’s house while he, Erin, and Mary Margaret were at taiko.  They came home a bit later and we had a small party among ourselves. 

November 27th
Woke up early and took Becca home.  Got home and slept until 12.  Met up with Kyle and Erin and we got a chance to tour a bell pepper/goya farm.  

The farmer was from Tokyo, spoke wonderful English, and ended the tour with complimentary coffee and sembe. 

From there, we took a drive to a place called “International Wood” and sat to watch the city for a while.  Had a random photo session and then went to buy food for our little Thanksgiving dinner. 

We made deviled eggs in bell peppers, sushi, beef, shrimp, clams, and others brought pork chops, cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a plethora of wine.  We had a really fun group of people at Kyle’s house and ended the night with dancing and fireworks.
Twister starts

Kyle was wearing a mask and snorkel, people were passed out on the bed, but we all managed to sleep by 3am or so. 
Scuba Kyle goes looking for clams

Topher getting down

November 28th
I woke up to my alarm at 6am and headed out the door to get ready for my badminton tournament.  I wasn’t in the best shape, but found some energy after eating eggs and toast.  My partner and I lost all three of our games (for some reason they put me in C class) but we still had fun.  Top finishers won huge boxes of ramen.  The adults were allowed to play janken (rock, paper, scissors) for bottles of booze.  Then the kids started 6 different tickle fights while we were leaving the gym.  I went home and gave my neighbors their Advent calendar, to which they responded with a pot of homemade sweet curry.  I made pasta with oysters and shrimp then had some rice with the curry. Here's a picture of one of the clams, after I steamed it...a little crab had been hiding out in the shell...
A clam with crabs

 I fell asleep at 8pm.  Finally, some rest.

Here are some other random pics from the last couple weeks...

The official book of pooping

Happy Thanksgiving

One of my most prized pictures...

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 8th - 15th

November 8th
Classes aren’t great.  I played basketball with boys in the gym at lunch time.  Graded papers for a teacher who continues to ask me, “Do you have anything planned for this class,” 3 minutes before class.  The day is dragging out and I don’t want anymore of it.  I was going to go fishing, but remembered that tonight is when taiko starts again.  When I got to the BOE for practice, no one was there.  I wasted perfectly good fishing time. 

November 9th
Finally, some excitement.  I’m at one of my junior high schools, where my most interesting kid, Takumi, is at his best.  In the middle of my teacher’s lesson, he holds up a sign and says at an audible level to the whole class, “Nick-sensei, Nick-sensei!”  On the paper is written in English, “How do you say ‘homo’ in English?”  I think I caught myself laugh really quick and then asked him to put it away.  Meanwhile, my teacher is still giving his lesson, not missing a beat.  The paper is passed to other students who hold it up and say, “Nick-sensei, Nick-sensei!”  Again, I have to gesture for them to pay attention and put it away.  Takumi gets the paper again, but this time holds it up and it says, “What are you doing this weekend?”  This time I whisper to him, “I’ll tell you after class,” to which he turns the paper around with the writing, “how do you say ‘homo’ in English?” Can someone please get this kid a job in Hollywood?  I about lost it in the middle of class.  Then as Takumi is still holding up the sign, a girl in the row across from him is loudly whispering, “Lesbian, lesbian.”  I wish I could tell you that I think of this on my own, but these kids have me dumbfounded.  I don’t know where they learn this English and how they’re so brave to ask me in the middle of their lesson. 
I went to my second school of the day and was presented with a radish, from one of my students.  After class, I got home and went for a run.  I was followed by students on bikes, who were returning home from school.  They followed me until I got to my turn around point and then yelled and waved as they rode away.

November 10th
I had three classes this morning with a teacher who only had me play games for 15 minutes, then asked me to leave the class while she passed out their graded tests.  That was an easy morning.  Our tea lady, Takagi, presented me with my own tea cup today.  I even got to write my name on the bottom in katakana.  Took off for my second school after lunch and the kids were crazy.  I was climbed on and made to lift each kid over my head.  At least I got a good workout.
I went spearfishing after work, but being in the water for 20 minutes, I began to realize the waves were getting larger and meaner.  I got out by crawling on the barnacles and cutting my hands but nothing horrible.  While I was in the water, I got a text from the Softbank ladies about my iTunes gift card, again, for the 3rd time.  I stopped in and of course they couldn’t figure it out.  They apologized and gave me another keychain.

November 11th
This morning I couldn't get motivated to leave for work.  But, I saw a boy from one of my elementary schools while I was waiting for a light to turn green and he waved at me through the entirety of his walk across the street.  That, right there, made the day worthwhile.  The rest of the day was a normal day.  Nothing exciting to report.  I emailed Hamanoue about possibly getting a bike, but then received an email from the bike shop that the bike had been sold already.  There goes that plan. 

November 12th 
2 new classes today!  What!?  I’ve been here 3 months and they haven’t put me in all the classes yet?  The kids made their own meishi (business cards) and we exchanged them amongst ourselves while giving English introductions.  I drew Spongebob Squarepants and a squid on two of my cards, which soon became the thing to fight over.  My second class included 3 crying kids, who were all fine once I gave them stickers.  My final class was a huge day for Bingo, where I gave out at least 50 stickers.  No polite requests from the teachers, just “Give them stickers.”  Really, that’s how they tell me. 
Played badminton after work and was invited to a practice the next day and a tournament on the 28th.  Stoked!

November 13th
What a sad day, I was supposed to be buying a motorcycle.  I went to the badminton practice, after buying new gym shoes, and they ran my butt around the gym.  The kids had a blast and I felt like I was getting worse.  Dang, I was dominating weeks ago.  I’ve lost something in my step, perhaps? 
At night, I went for a drive to Kanoya.   I found myself at a couple second-hand shops and then at the crazy night district, where Dangerous Man took me for karaoke.  I drove up and down the little streets just looking at all the crazy outfits these girls wear here.  What a trip.  Luckily, I heard motorcycles in the distance and raced off to find out what they were.  It turned out to be a group of young guys with crazy modified bikes.  One rider saw that I was a foreigner and he kept revving his bike alongside my car and then blasted his trucker airhorn as he sped off.  At every stop light, the kids revved their bikes so much, just being annoying kids.  It was so funny to watch, I wish I had video of it.   I pulled into a market to get a drink and found them sitting around their bikes.  I took pictures, told them who I was, and then showed them pictures of my Suzuki back in the states.  They weren’t impressed, but at least I got to see what they were riding. 

They kept calling this bike the Honda Yankee, but I have no idea what it meant

If you haven't noticed the handlebars on these bikes, take another look

November 14th
Went to brunch with Kyle and Becca at the wonderful Joyfull restaurant.  We chatted for a couple hours and then parted for a while.  I went fishing but was bummed to see that there were other guys fishing in the spot I had never seen anyone fishing before.  Also, there were 15 surfers in the water.  I had never seen more than 7 or 8 in the past, it must have been a good report today. 
At night, Kyle Becca and I we watched a decent horror film called “Lovely Bones.”  I say decent, because the movie had me wondering what was going to happen the whole way through.  Unfortunately, the ending was such rubbish I was irritated at myself for watching its entirety.  I guess it was given great reviews, but I’m telling you to stay away if you haven’t seen it.  Just writing about it right now is making me more annoyed. 

November 15th
Today was a beautiful sunny morning.  One of those days you can tell is going to be nice.  I decided on a short-sleeved shirt and knew there would be possible consequences.  I got to school and it was even warmer than before.  IMMEDIATELY upon entering the school, two teachers asked if I was cold and did the whole shivering imitation.  So I smiled politely and pointed at the sun saying, “It’s sunny and warm today.”  Later, one of the same teachers who said it was cold, walked along the halls with me and proclaimed, “It’s warm today isn’t it?”  I think 1 year is just enough for me to be here without going insane. 
Played volleyball with the kids at lunchtime and then was kicked out of the teacher’s office because they were having a teacher’s meeting.  I’m not positive, but I’m guessing they don’t think very highly of me.  It’s okay, I was off work early and got to go on a long run.  On my way back from the run, I saw 7 of my students playing baseball in a field surrounded by crops.  They yelled my name, so I went to check it out. 
I was wishing I had brought my camera phone with me.  The sun was setting, leaving a burnt orange sky as our backdrop.  I was playing outfield in the middle of a farmer’s field, and there was a slight cool breeze.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a more perfect pick-up game of baseball in my life.  We batted and fielded a couple innings and then some of the kids had to leave.  I decided to leave too, but watched as the remaining 4 kids took batting practice and kept yelling “Goodbye” as I walked away. 
Skipped taiko tonight since I don’t know what they’re doing anymore and watched sumo on TV for 10 minutes.  Made a banana milkshake for the second night in a row and I’m feeling much better now.
Little things have been bugging me more than usual lately, but I know how to fix it.  It’s just going to take a couple wheels, a helmet, and maybe some horsepower through the countryside.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 1st - 7th

November 1st
I had a decent day at school.  Only had a couple of classes and the students had to prepare for their school festival.  Talked to Mike-iko about bikes for a while and then headed out for a run.  I didn’t cramp, but I also didn’t run much.  I was so worried about cramping up again that I’d stop every 5 minutes and stretch.  It was actually worse doing this, making me feel like I have to worry about my leg so much.  Hopefully, I can work my way into some long runs.  After the run I made a quick meal of fish, rice, and veggies.  I was cleaning up and wiping out the tuna can and cut my finger deeper than I ever had before.  Luckily it was a clean slice and I was able to rinse it and dry it without any crazy bleeding.  I did lift the flap of skin and it didn’t look good.  I saw blood, something white (hopefully not my bone), and then I quickly pressed it back down and covered it with gauze.  Not exactly how I was hoping to end my day.

November 2nd
Had a few classes in the morning that went well.  Ate lunch with the kids and then helped them rake the yards.  Left for my second school and only had one class.  The kids were great and I got to leave an hour early.  Tried to clean my house as much as I could and then got distracted with The Long Way Round DVDs.  Every time I watch this series, it makes me want to get out on a bike and explore.  I’m already thinking of going across different continents and trying to figure out what sort of budget I may need.  Anyway, it’s great and is pushing me to get a bike out here now. 
Skyped back home for a while and then had dinner and went to bed.

November 3rd
Today we had “Culture Day” and got the day off.  I met up with Kyle, Mary Margaret, Topher, Cassie, Allen, and Ayumi.  

We walked around the festival in Iwagawa and I tried some sort of onigiri with meat and cheese on the outside.  I was also able to witness my first "Fishing for Chickens" booth.  The kids were given sticks with line attached to the end.  Then, the guy who ran the booth, would attach dough to the end of the string.  The chickens would clamp onto the dough and the kids would lift them out of the box.  Still, I don't understand why they went and dyed all the chickens different colors. 

 I was a bit worried for their lives when I saw that they carried the chickens around in plastic bags (just like the goldfish they also won).   

The main event of the festival was a group of people parading a huge statue of Yagoro Don (Gordy) down the small streets.  There's even a person standing on his shoulder in order to lift the electric wires out of the way.  
This guy's lookin' to get electrocuted

We watched the huge statue come from the shrine and head down the streets.  All the while, Kyle and Mary Margaret were playing in their taiko group that walked with the statue.  It sounded great and the crowd of people was quite a sight.  After a couple hours, we caught up with the taiko group on their break and they still had quite some time before they were done.  I can only imagine carrying those drums around for so long. 
Kyle (middle) acting a fool

I left the festival with the intention of going spear fishing but strayed as usual and found a new market.  I finally found fireworks again and some good food for tonight. 
Ate dinner, took a sample of my ‘business’ for the medical check tomorrow, and now I’m off to bed really early.   Seriously, it’s only about 7:45pm.  How sad.
Yes, that is a cartoon turd in the middle.  Yes, he has arms and legs.

November 4th
Went to my medical examination in the morning that seemed to include everyone from my BOE.  I first had to give my stool samples to the guys at the front, give a urine sample at the next station, and then they weighed me.  To take my height, they had me stand on a platform that had a robotic arm come down, touch the top of my head, and that was it.  I was accidentally put in the wrong line (blood taking), when I was supposed to be in the blood pressure line.  One of my buddies from the BOE taps a guy on the shoulder (who is already in the process of having his own blood pressure taken) and makes him get up so that I don’t have to wait in line.  I kept saying, “No, it’s okay” in Japanese, but they had none of it.  So there I was, being ushered from station to station after that.  Blood pressure great, blood samples taken without passing out, hooked up to some electrical device, and then they measured my waist.  I also ran into Tomomi, who had made me an egg sandwich since we weren’t allowed to eat breakfast that day.  She’s just too nice to me. 
I went home and took a nap since Hamaya-san (from my BOE) had cancelled my first school (apparently).  I got a call from Shinmiya at lunch time asking where I was, so I can only assume I was supposed to go to the school.  Oh well, no one got upset.  Made it to the next school and the classes went well.  They greeted me with a cup of coffee, although I really didn’t need the caffeine, and also gave me a choice of custard at the end of the day.  I rolled a hula hoop back and forth with a little girl during playtime and she thought it was so funny every time she caught it.  Before I left for home, they had me go outside and help them remove rice from the actual plant.  It had been drying for some time so we used a foot-powered machine that had U-shaped pieces of metal, to spin and knock all the grains off.  The machine smacked the grain everywhere, so kids had to hold a tarp barrier to catch everything. 
Separating rice from the plant

November 5th
The schools had their festivals today, which included art, English writing, plays, singing, and other events.  Daiichi, my first school, had some pretty good song and dance numbers. 

They ended, though, with a play about a Japanese woman who lost her children during the bombing of Hiroshima.  I was sitting next to two older women and the one closest to me began sobbing uncontrollably.  To say the least, I felt awkward being the only American in the room.  Later, I found out that some of my Shibushi friends also had to endure the same play.   It's so weird to see it from the other perspective, but the kids did a great job and really worked hard to pull the festival off.  

My next school had already finished their festival and we got to work right away.  There were a few difficult students and it was hard to get through the lesson.  I decided to go home and skip out on badminton for the second week.  I went running instead and made it without cramping for the 2nd time this week.  I have also run into my students along my runs and they keep up with me on their bikes for a while. 
I got home, made dinner and was about to watch a movie, when Shinmiya called to tell me that his family had a present for me at badminton tonight.  I drove to the recreation center and they gave me my own badminton racket.  What a cool gesture.  Then, I got to play another 6 games of badminton and could feel that my legs were already too tired from the run.  Still, it was fun and the kids were hilarious. 

November 6th
Today is the rotary club Halloween party.  I wasn’t sure on our lodging, so I packed extra futons and blankets for everyone.  It turns out they had everything ready to go.  We started with a game of ground golf.  Everyone who played was awarded with a potted plant at the end.  I think I may have grabbed a sage plant.  Then we were driven to the local onsen, next to the recreation center, and ‘relaxed’ in the different spas.  I honestly don’t like these things and nearly passed out again from the extreme heat of the water. 
After the onsen, we got back to the campground and they were waiting for us with Halloween decorations strung all over the campground.  Barbecues were stocked with meat, veggies, and squid.  They also had a good amount of beer and shochu.  
Indoor BBQs

We were joined by Shinmiya, Masuyama, Ikoma, and their children.  Everything was tons of fun, but it rained.  They actually took two of the barbecues inside one of our wood cabins and continued the party in there.  Smoke filled the place and we were forced to open all the windows.  We put our costumes on and were immediately poked by all the kids.  
Kids who slaughter me at badminton

They stole the mask off my costume and were going around pretending to be an old woman, one of the little girl had a costume with fake boobs that everyone was trying on, and then we were given a martial arts demonstration by one of the rotary guys.  I’m almost positive that he broke his hand. 
Sometime later in the night, we taught the Japanese guys to play beer pong.  One of them must have played 6 or 7 games.  You should know that many of the games included the use of shochu instead of beer.  Dangerous!  It really turned out to be a great evening, despite the rain, and I’m looking forward to staying at the campground again.

November 7th
It was a rough morning, but we all managed to get up and clean up the campsite.  The rotary guy who owns the ramen shop prepared breakfast for us.  Then we all left for home.  I took a nap and was lazy most of the day.  I took a drive and explored some areas I hadn’t been to.  Found a freshwater fishing lake, so I’ll definitely be spending more time there.  Went to a farmer’s co-op and bought 18 bananas for 350 yen.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bananas connected together. 

Got home, ate dinner, and now I’m watching the newest Terminator movie on one of my 4 TV stations. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

October 21st - 31st

October 21st
I got to school this morning feeling a little groggy, but soon found myself jumping rope with the entire school outside.  Celebrated Halloween with my first grade class and they loved the candy.  I let them wear a scary looking lucha libre mask and one of the boys chased every single person around the room.  

Some of the older boys were calling each other names.  They called me Santa Clause because of my beard, randomly called one of the smallest boys Michael Jackson, and then nicknamed another kid Beyonce.  ‘Beyonce’ kept coming up to me asking what his name is and after I would say Beyonce, all the kids would howl with laughter. 
I have had one little girl holding my hand nearly all day.  Somehow she finds me during passing periods and during lunch.  We went on the swings together and she’s a little ball of giggles.  Then she got distracted by a butterfly or a blade of grass or something, and I went to play baseball with some of the older kids. 
Had Halloween with other classes and had kids running all around the rooms.  At the end of school, I sat in the teacher’s office and was approached by the vice principal.  He saw that I had a magazine of motorcycles in my bag and talked to me for a good while about bikes.  His dad owns a scooter shop and he and the principal are both looking into buying bikes.  It was nice to talk with someone about motorcycles again.

October 22nd
This morning the office ladies are really putting on their “I’m trying to look like I’m busy by ‘running’ with my legs bent and scraping my shoes on the floor, but I could probably walk faster” moves.  The guys are trudging along like they really don’t care what’s going on. 
More Halloween lessons and crazy kids.  Held hands with the little girl again, but now she likes swinging from my arm.  Near the end of school, my vice principal came and gave me some maps of places to see in Kanoya and Kagoshima.  He explains that he’s originally from Kanoya and still loves the place.  Good thing it’s only a 5 minute drive from here.  The letter he wrote that accompanied the maps was in wonderful English explaining everything and I’m willing to guess it took near an hour to come up with the words he used.  About this same time, two of the office ladies noticed my iPhone and began playing with it.  I showed them the camera and got this awesome pic of the two. 

They’re hilarious and always come into the office with big smiles, but the woman on the right is now determined to get her son one of these phones. 
Had to go to the BOE after school and was presented with a letter explaining a medical visit I have to have on the 4th of November.  Apparently, they are going to hook wires up to my body, take a blood sample, and it also requires me to give two stool samples.  This might be the most thorough physical I’ll ever have to take.  I really wish we had cameras running in that office, because listening to them yell “Stool sample!” across the room after translating online, it’s really priceless.  I was bent over laughing most of the time and they couldn’t hold straight faces when showing me how I had to take samples of my toilet gifts.  Oh boy, I can’t wait for November to hurry and get here!
Went to badminton at night and kicked some more butt.  I didn’t hold much back tonight and they were giving me tons of compliments.  A girl in her twenties played with me and we dominated my supervisor and his partner.  I smacked the birdie right at his face at one point and he recreated the play by imitating the Matrix move.  I think I played 7 games tonight and entirely soaked my shirt with sweat. 

October 23rd
Went on a drive to a flea market today and found out from a convenience store owner that there was a misprint in the newsletter.  It’s not until next month.  There was one motorcycle shop I found that I hadn’t been to, so I decided to make that my destination for the day.  I got there and found the GB they advertised.  The guy started it up, but it sounded a bit rough.  Took some pictures and thanked him for showing it to me. 

Out back, I saw a bin where they threw out all their old motorcycle stuff and found two helmets that might fit.  Tossed them in my car and headed home.  Stopped off at a shrine I saw on the road out there.  It was on a little piece of land that is accessible during low tide, but gets flooded with water when it’s high tide.  

Also stopped to check out some clothing shops along the way.  Picked up a pair of Dickies shorts and a shirt.  Turned out to be a nice day although the flea market was a bust.

October 24th 
Today I woke late and Skyped with Dorian and A-bomb for a while.  They were getting ready for their Halloween party so I joined them.  They put my face on their big screen TV and I got to talk to a lot of old friends from SD and even Ice’d Uriel with the help of Josh.  

This lasted for a while and I really had fun seeing the Law St. house again.  After a while I took off from the party and listened to the rain pour outside.  Fell asleep early and was out cold.

October 25th
Felt really crappy today, but luckily I only have 2 classes.  Bought more candy for the Halloween presentation.  The first class was absolutely INSANE!  Knowing it was one of my last classes for Halloween parties, I let them take extra candy and it turned into a mosh pit.  The kids had their cooking class today and prepared keihan, the soup dish I fell in love with in Amami.  Holy moly, it was better than what I had on the island! 
Keihan on the left

The funny kid who always whispers ‘I love you’ during class, made me a huge bowl of the keihan and was really proud of it.  This was by far the best lunch I have had at a school. 
These are today's chefs

The rest of the day, I watched the kids practice baseball, singing, and dancing for their school festival.  It looks like all my schools are getting amped up for November 5th.  Still feeling crappy after school and going to try and sleep early.

October 26th
I forgot what I did.

October 27th
My first school I had one class and ended up talking with Takagi, our tea lady.  We walked around the school and she tried explaining what different classes were used for.  She and her friend kept laughing at how much I look like Tom Cruise.  Then she couldn’t believe that I had never played Pachinko.  It sounds like she’s quite the Pachinko player.  She then showed me a little pond with carp, but two of them had bent tails and swam upside down.  I was almost positive that they are supposed to die if they go upside down, but these guys were kicking all day.  I don’t quite know what to think. 
I went to spearfish after school but the waves were huge.  So, I tried to fishing by line instead but was almost swallowed by the sea.  I quickly left the rocks and headed for home. 

October 28th
Only 3 classes today.  Walked around and watched kids making backdrops for their upcoming play, practicing songs, and rehearsing scenes outside.  Handed over my phone to the volleyball girls and they went picture crazy. 

They were soon lined up waiting to take individual shots with me.  

One of the boys challenged me to a handstand pushup contest and I swiftly put him to shame.  

Showed him how to do clap pushups and all the boys got into it. 

Finally, to top off the day, one of the boys 'accidentally' pulled the fire alarm.  He was quickly ratted out by his buddy and got yelled at in the office.  The vice principal went off on him and smacked him in the head multiple times.  Damn, I'll be sure to keep away from those fire alarms.

October 29th
Had a couple more Halloweens today and got the kids crazy on candy again.  The rest of the day the kids were practicing for their school festival.  Actually not much to report on.  The kids are extremely occupied with this festival and I haven’t got much to do but walk around and see if I can help. 
Went out with Kyle, Mary Margaret, Becca, Topher, Cassie, and Justin tonight.  We were soon swarmed by a group of Japanese people who were having their own get-together in the room next to ours.  They were very funny we stayed out until about 3am.  Happened upon a shochu banner and Kyle and I walked back to his place and passed out. 

October 30th
Woke up at 10am and wasn’t feeling quite myself.  Got home and fell back to sleep on my bed.  Woke back up in time to pack, eat, and load into Kyle’s car for the Dragon Boat Festival.  We met up with about 20 other ALTs and got settled into our campground.  We had an awesome cabin that overlooked the ocean and some BBQ pits outside.  We dressed in Halloween costumes, someone brought a huge stereo, and the party was great. 

Danced, went swimming in the ocean, and ate some great food.  Midway through the night, Chelsea drove some of us to the local convenient store and we asked a Japanese guy to take a picture of us in our costumes.  After taking the picture, he asked us a lot of interesting sex-based questions and we just laughed it all off in a nervous sort of way.  He then asked us to wait for a bit and headed outside.  Upon returning, he handed me a plastic bag filled with fried chicken and then immediately turned around and left the store without saying another word.  
Asking, "What is wrong with Americans?"  Me saying, "Have you looked at what I'm wearing?"

Seriously, these are those insane moments where I have no clue what is going through these people’s heads.  But, it makes a great story and I can only hope this sort of thing happens again.
At our campground, we were joined by some Japanese guys and I got into a conversation with one about spearfishing, since he had a spearfishing shirt on.  He immediately removed it and gave it to me as a present.  Can you believe it?   My purpose for this trip was to get a bag of fried chicken and a shirt from a Japanese guy and it all happened in one night!  Oh Japan why?

Two of the Japanese guys attacking the human ice cream cone

Get down John!  Go 'head, get down!

October 31st
We cleaned up and headed to the festival.  Kyle, Becca, and I dressed up in costume again and got plenty of stares from the people.  One lady who had set up a booth, invited us all over for homemade mochi (wrapped in leaves), and pound cake.  We ate the mochi, leaves and all, with her laughing at us after realizing what we had done.  She was really nice and so full of happiness, I just loved her from the beginning. 
I think we had at least 5 different people come up and ask to take pictures with us.  During our races, there were TV cameras and photographers on us quite a bit.  We made friends with some little kids and began trying to scare them.  Allen notoriously fell asleep sitting up and the girls were poking him and screaming their little heads off.  

I then noticed a high school girl who was staring at my costume so I lunged at her and yelled.  She screamed, ran away, and her friends stood there laughing at her.
Our boat unfortunately came in 3rd place after our first race, which meant we had another race to paddle in the afternoon.  We waited and waited, but finally it came.  We came in dead last, having barely made it to the starting position, but everyone still cheered for us.

It was a great time, seeing all the other JETs again and seeing a new part of Japan.  Kyle and Becca definitely helped make this a great trip, as our car rides are always interesting.
Thanks for keeping me sane guys!