How time flies

19 Sep

Wow, it really has been a whole week since I posted last. This is something I was kind of concerned about from the beginning. Sometimes I just have to force myself to post. But I have, in fact, been a bit busy too.

Taiikusai has come and gone. It was a blast, tremendously. I am planning on doing a report soon, it will just take some time to upload the videos. Taiikusai is nothing like America’s Field Day. If Field Day had the kind of effort and planning Taiikusai does, it might be on ESPN. Well, ESPN17 anyway.

The videos mainly cover the various events, with a focus on those most unique from what we’d think of with American PE. I didn’t bother to record more ordinary events like relay races, although I have to admit those did seem to draw a lot of the attention from the parents. I didn’t record all of the events completely since my phone only has so much memory, and towards the end of the day the battery died anyway. Still I think you will enjoy them.

I actually participated in a couple of events. One was a special PTA relay race with many of the parents participating, and some others such as the Principal and the on hand security staff. My part was stacking five cans on top of each other, and then running to my next teammate while jump roping. At first I actually did pretty well, and then because of my awesome American strength I ripped one of the handles off the (cheap plastic) jump rope. I kinda tried to work with it but ended up just jogging the rest of the bit. In the end my team came in 2nd; sorry I let you down Principal!

The other event was the Soran Bushi, a dance accompanied to a popular, traditional Japanese sea shanty. I was warned by another ALT that I’d likely be invited to join in on this. The kids have had all summer to practice the dance. I practiced for a day (though I watched them perform it often). I also completely destroyed my thigh muscles during the practice. But when it came to the real thing, well, I know I still goofed up some of the quicker parts but I thought it was pretty good otherwise, and everyone enjoyed my participating. I thank the students for giving me their strength.

After the event was done I went with the teachers to an onsen spa called Yumenoi. It was a very beautiful and relaxing place. And yeah, as you might imagine with a Japanese bath spa, I was with some of my other male teachers in the buff. Kind of different but I wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, and after the day’s events the water was really relaxing.

We then went upstairs to a Japanese meal, which I wish I could say I enjoyed. Japanese seafood still makes me very uncomfortable. For my part, I did try a few things, and honestly they did taste good. But the whole psychological factor made my stomach twist into all sorts of knots, and I couldn’t do much more. I’ll just have to keep at it, or maybe try hypnotism. At the very least I made up for my lack of appetite by drinking. I do hope I didn’t make an ass of myself much, but then they did keep the drinks coming. Deep down I am sure there are a lot of things about me the teachers think is weird or unusual or even bad manners. But on the surface at least, they enjoyed my presence and I certainly enjoyed their hospitality. I am trying my best to fit in knowing fully well I can only fit in so much.

So today has been the first day of my well earned vacation. I was actually planning on going to Shodoshima, aka Olive Island, but due to circumstances it didn’t work out. Basically, I was going to have the whole week off, and go to Shodoshima from Monday to Wednesday. Today and Friday are national holidays. Tuesday and Wednesday are compensation days for coming to school on the weekend (for Taiikusai). Thursday I just asked to take off, using one of my vacation days (the former ALTs recommended we do this). However, because there was a typhoon warning on Saturday the kids didn’t go to school. So they have to make up for the day on Wednesday now. I decided just spending one night in Shodoshima wasn’t really worthwhile. I also have a lot of housekeeping to take care of, and I bought a $600 phone over the weekend. So I don’t mind just sticking around, and being able to sort of kick back and vegetate has been pretty pleasant.

The only thing about the whole situation that bugs me is that we teachers still had to come in for the day on Saturday, and essentially do nothing. When the kids make up the day on Wednesday, they will be taking normal classes. But had they come on Saturday, they’d have done Taiikusai practice. So if anything, the kids might as well have come in on Saturday and taken classes! A little rain wasn’t going to hurt that.

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