A Three Day Weekend!

The first day of the weekend wasn’t very exciting—I just went with my students for speech practice at the contest location in Tateyama on Saturday—but the rest of the weekend was excellent.

Tateyama Festival—September 16th

I have no idea what any of these festivals are called, but apparently this was the biggest one! It was at a large temple in Tateyama, near Aeon Town (the shopping center), and there were mikoshi and dashi and hella food.

I met up with Ebony, and we walked around for about three hours just looking at stuff. We even went into a Haunted House exhibit! Ebony was scared out of her mind, and it was the funniest goddamn thing ever.

We ran into a lot of her students, but I didn’t see any of my students all day. I was starting to feel like maybe I just wasn’t recognizing them, but eventually they began to appear! I don’t know them as well as Ebony knows her students, but I said hello when they greeted me, and they asked me some questions before we all moved on.

I had planned to meet up with Victor, Jeff, and Mike at the festival because they were going to carry the mikoshi, but I never saw them. They were probably too busy carrying it.

Mikoshi are these palanquin things that are supposed to contain gods. They are gorgeous.

There were also a few dashi, which are pulled by a rope. There are some daiko players sitting on the top, along with some flautists (or whatever they were playing).

Do you remember way back in another entry when I mentioned that I helped to pull a float? That was a dashi! Here are some dashi that were at Tateyama!


Ebony and I met up with some non-JET English teachers later. We found Masato, a guy who lives next to Masato (I’m really sorry, I can’t remember his name, but Masato knows him), Barry, and Barry’s friend (I  can’t remember his name either, but he is Japanese and his English is very good). They all turned out to live very close to each other, so we found some new friends for Masato!

They were all really fun, and as the festival was winding down, we all decided to get a Frisbee, an ukulele and some beers, and go down to the beach.

However, Barry didn’t end up going to get his ukulele. He lectured us on how to pronounce it properly, which was pretty funny. It’s not “you-ke-lay-lee,” it’s “oo-ku-lay-lay.” Haha!

We also couldn’t find a Frisbee at Aeon, so we just grabbed some beers and went to the beach, which was only a block away from Aeon, too.

Did I mention that it’s legal to drink in public in Japan? It is. At the beginning of the day, Ebony bought some beers from Aeon when we first met up. She said it would be okay, because we wouldn’t be driving for a few hours. We did run into her students almost immediately though, and they all said, “EBONY-SENSEI ARE YOU DRINKING?”

Ebony: “No, this is juice.”

They didn’t believe her.

Anyway, we sat down at the beach and drank, and when it got dark and fireworks began to go off, we walked down to the water and waded a little. Masato and Ebony ended up getting really wet, because the waves kept catching them by surprise, and they were wearing longer pants. Masato was also pretty tipsy, so he “accidentally” splashed her.

Here’s everyone I went with! Yay! I took the picture, so obviously I’m not in it.

We got hungry, and we wanted some cheap food, so we were going to walk down to Coco’s (again, about two blocks away). Barry and his friend wanted some festival food, though, so we parted ways.

And then suddenly, rain.

It started to rain so hard! It was crazy! And the funny thing was, as I was walking out the door that morning, I looked at my umbrella and thought, “I should bring that.”

And of course, I didn’t.

Ebony had a plastic beach blanket, though, so we used that to cover ourselves as we ran to the nearest shelter. The nearest shelter happened to be Ken’s, that restaurant that I first ate at with the other ALTs in Minamiboso. Ebony didn’t want to eat there, though, because it’s not very good, and there was a long wait anyway. We decided to head back to Aeon Town, which had some restaurants we wanted to try. It was also where Ebony and I had parked, and it was nearer to Masato’s apartment building. So it was more convenient for everyone.

We braved the rain and made it back to Aeon… completely soaked. I was actually okay, but Ebony, Masato, and the other guy were drenched.

We found a restaurant with no wait time and sat down. Masato ran to the Daiso to buy a ¥100 shirt, and a few students at the surrounding tables talked to us. They told me, “You are beautiful.” One of the few adjectives that we ever teach our students apparently. In class a few days ago, one of my students also told me, “Your eyes are very beautiful.”

Dinner was good—I had moco loco (though that’s not what they call it in Japan)—and it was really cool to see Masato again.

Monday, September 17—Sushi with Ebony

I needed to go shopping for some stuff—mainly bed sheets. I really need to make this house mine, because it still feels rather temporary. I’ve been redecorating a little, and I really want to make the bed my own gorram bed. So I went out to buy bed stuff!

As I was driving to the ATM, Ebony called and asked if I wanted to get lunch. She had just finished speech contest practice (which she volunteered to do on the holiday). She said she would help me with shopping afterwards. Deal!

So we got some ¥100 sushi!

It was cheap, but it was pretty good! It was a rotating sushi bar, so you just grabbed a plate that you wanted off the conveyor belt and paid by plate at the end. Cool!

Also, I wanted to mention that I found a Bob’s Big Boy—about a block away from Aeon. (Damn, everything is near Aeon.)

MAN, WHAT IS THIS, AMERICA?

Also!

On Thursday last week, I went out for okonomiyaki with Kim and Jeff, which was pretty cool! I didn’t take a picture, but it was my first okonomiyaki experience, and it was delicious. You cook the food yourself on the hot plate table in front of you, like Korean barbecue.

That same night, I also visited the only pool I can find around these parts. Kim went in with me to interpret, and the man told us about the membership plans, the pay-as-you-come-in plan, and the available equipment. He showed us the pool, and it looked decent! There were maybe six lanes, and there were not a lot of people in them at all.

Then he told us that the pool was 32°C.

You guys, that’s 90°F.

DDD: Normal lap swimming temperature is 82°F. That’s way too hot for me. That’s like swimming laps at Akai. Sometimes the pool at Akai would be too hot for me when I wasn’t moving around. One time, when I was teaching, the pool was really hot, and I found out that it was 90°F. I could not stay in that pool. I seriously felt like I was getting heat stroke. It was awful.

DDD: I’m still going to try that pool, probably next week, but… That’s really hot… It is a sauna pool, so the man said, but damn… people swim laps in that! How is that possible?!

Maybe during the winter it will be perfect. :/

Also!!

I can’t remember what I wanted to put here…

Oh!

Today during lunch, I walked around the school because I was bored. I don’t eat lunch with the students yet, but I kind of want to. I’m still afraid of them though, honestly. I’m not sure how well communication will go, and I don’t want either side to get frustrated…

Anyway, I leaned into each classroom (because the students eat in their classrooms), and said, “HELLO!”

Some students looked amused, but others just looked at me like I was a moron. I didn’t stay in those classrooms for very long.

One of the 1st year classes got really excited, so I stood in the door a bit longer there. One student asked me if I had tried natto yet, and when I said I had, they all asked how it was. I wasn’t sure how to answer—it was okay.

Yusuke: [translated] “Natto is the worst.”

Another girl asked me a question, but I didn’t understand. It was something about smiling. The boy who had asked me about natto explained.

Boy: [translated] “You smile every day.”

Me: “I do?”

Boy: “Yes.”

Me: (turning to the girl) “So?”

Girl: “Naze?” [Why?]

Me: “…Why not?”

Then they all looked confused, so I laughed and waved good-bye. XD

And I thought, “TAKE THAT, PEOPLE WHO DON’T THINK I SMILE! TAKE THAT!”

A lot of people used to say I looked angry when I was lifeguarding, and some people accuse me of never smiling.

First of all: Who the fuck smiles when they’re lifeguarding? That’s damn creepy.

Second of all: I’m sorry?

TAKE THAT. MY STUDENTS APPARENTLY THINK I SMILE TOO MUCH. IN YOUR FACE.

Music

One of my friends mentioned that she likes when I mention music in my entries. I couldn’t find a good time to bring it up mid-entry, so I’ll just tell you here.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Gotye’s “Hearts A Mess.” The music video is weird (like all of his videos), but the song’s great.

I also really like Ellie Goulding’s “Lights.” I also rediscovered Lhasa de Sela’s “Fool’s Gold,” which is a beautiful song that I haven’t listened to since I finished watching The United States of Tara.

So those are my recommendations of the… er… day?

P.S. Also, this is hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32uUNUypjYs

It’s Conan O’Brien playing Resident Evil 6, a zombie video game, and he has no idea what he’s doing.

Cast of Characters

Ebony as… 2nd year ALT in Maruyama. She is from New York.

Masato as… a non-JET English teacher in Tateyama. He is new to the area, but not to Japan. He is also of Japanese descent, but he is from Washington, I think. Seattle.

Barry as… a non-JET English teacher in Tateyama. He is new to the area, too. I think he said he is from Canada.

Vocabulary

dashi: Floats that are pulled by a rope at Japanese festivals.

mikoshi: Palanquins that are carried at Japanese festivals. They are supposed to have gods in them.

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9 Responses to A Three Day Weekend!

  1. Kim says:

    Wow the 1st graders still won’t let go of the whole natto thing? Basically they found out that I HATE natto (and shishamo EW) and Mr. Kawana encouraged the kids to hassle me EVERY DAY about it and his kids (and Mr. Kawana) would ask me ” well do you like kobe natto? Do you like green natto? Chocolate natto?” to which I would throw my hands around and stick out my tongue saying natto is awful.
    If you eat natto I think you will be their hero!

    Don’t worry about eating with the kids. I never did, but I think they will really enjoy asking you random questions and commenting on everything you eat.
    Just beware of Ren and BIG Kaito in the 3rd grade because they will sexually harass you… just harass them back (not sexually O_O) and don’t let them get away with ANYTHING! They think they are badass (well Kaito is just weird…) but if you call them on it they usually behave. OH and pro tip for later.. if they are whispering sexual jokes in the back of the class while the teacher is talking? Don’t let yourself laugh at the jokes…. they called me a pervert for a whole year because I laughed at a dumb joke…

    Sounds like you are doing well.

    • I just typed out a whole comment to you, and WordPress deleted it. |D Aw man!

      It’s pretty amusing that everyone is so interested in what I eat – and not just the students. It’s almost like foreigners don’t eat or something.

      OMG FOREIGNERS EAT? THEY’RE ALMOST LIKE HUMAN BEINGS.

      One of the teachers asked me if there were pears in America. What. Of course there are.

      THERE IS NO FRUIT IN AMERICA. WE ONLY EAT HAMBURGERS AND FRIES. VEGETABLES? WHAT ARE THOSE?

      XD

      Hmm… I’ll have to watch out for those kids. :/ I’m scared of getting sexually harassed… I’m not sure how to respond. Do you have any specific tips for coping with their harassment? So far nothing has happened to me yet…

      One kid is coming to mind. He’s got that emo haircut that would get his ass kicked in America, and he thinks he’s the greatest thing since wheat bread. He hasn’t said much to me though. Sometimes I think he has Tourettes though, because he is obnoxious during class. XD

      I’m sure I won’t understand their jokes anyway. XD

      Man, teenage boys are gross…

      • Kim says:

        How big is the kid?? Big Kaito is a troublemaker.. he reminds me of a pothead, but is actually pretty hilarious. He will hassle / stare at you, but it harmless and he reacts well if you hassle him back. I kept doing the seating charts and making him sit right up front by Mrs. Komatsu and he would get SO mad and shove the desks all around and scream at me (I could never control my laughter as he had these outbursts..)

        Ren is adorable but always says mean things under his breath/ will knock girls notebooks onto the ground when teachers are not looking, etc. He and his group are the only ones who are really ballsy enough to hassle you much. His English is DAMN good though.
        (They are both 3rd years)

        Generally the 3rd year kids are the only ones who will mess with you.. 2nd year kids are angels so I doubt there are any issues. First year has a couple *cough* one troublesome kid, but he is a great kid at heart and wouldn’t do anything MEAN… just mischievous?

        Oooo I want to know who is the emo kid! Let me know !! :D

        I don’t mean to freak you out.. with the exception of a couple of REALLY “bad” eggs when I was there my first year, I never had any problems with the kids.

        Always have kids who’re on your side.. so if someone starts hassling you they will come to your aide! Just remember that it is middle school.. and everyone hates middle school. Cut them some slack, but also don’t allow disrespect. I never was a hardass about rules, but if I caught them cheating/ doing bad things I would make SURE they knew I knew about it and call them out on it.

      • I figured out his name–it is Kaito, the big kid troublemaker. Haha! He is pretty funny. I don’t think he reminds me of a pothead, though, because most of the potheads I know are really, really laidback. XD He’s funny. He is sitting in the front now, but he hasn’t had any outbursts. He does turn around and talk to Mirano a lot though. She usually laughs a little and ignores him. XD During one of the last speech practices, she mentioned him (I can’t remember why), and I commented on his stupid emo haircut. Komatsu-sensei asked Mirano about it, and she said that he got his hair cut like that so he would look like one of his favorite comedians. Haha!

        Hmm… I don’t know which one is Ren. I’ll look for him.

        Yeah, I get the impression that the 3rd years are going to mess with me. But I can beat most of them up, and once I build up my arms a little more, I’m gonna intimidate the hell out of them. >:D Haha, just kidding (sort of).

        Which first year is troublesome? oO

        XD I’m glad all the bad kids are gone. I get the impression that Tomiura kids are overall really great–I’ve heard some bad stories from the other ALTs about their students, but I haven’t seen any of that shit at Tomiura. (Like kids playing with knives and stuff.)

        I definitely hated middle school, so I know what they’re going through. I’ll go easy on them; they have enough problems without some strange foreigner bugging them about stuff.

  2. Kim says:

    HAHAHAH when I showed (secretly) your photo to a couple of the 2nd year boys.. one of them (the troublemaker-Hanawa) said “OH NO she looks like she could beat us up!” which was AWESOME. I told them that I would make sure you WOULD beat them up if they caused any problems.. so that works out well.

    YES Poor Mirano… Kaito always flirts with her and she is so shy! But maybe she secretly likes it? He slurs his words and is so RANDOM and always staring off into the distance hence why I say pothead.. but I say it in a loving way. I would always greet the students in the hallway and he would just STARE at me. He was one of my biggest challenges this last year O_O at first I was a little intimidated because he is a key figure (aka all the kids like him and will hassle you more if he doesn’t like you), but eventually we got along well and he became one of my favorites.. and as a joke he was chosen to give me my farewell message board at my farewell ceremony!

    Tomoya is the “troublesome” 1st year but I say that hesitantly because I think some of the teachers in elementary pinned “TROUBLE” onto him when he was younger and it has just stuck. He is a REALLY smart kid and could go on to do awesome things with his life. He has major family problems (OMG the HORRORS his brother did to our poor English teachers before graduation AND TO ME… also his brother is now a hello kitty PIMP- I will explain that some other time though…) He had a couple of “incidents” earlier in the year.. but generally he can be a REALLY optimistic kid and he is badass at hangman! Tomoya is also one of those kids who the other kids respond to.. so if he is being bad they are more likely to follow suit.

    While there are aspects of the Japanese school system that totally suck, I really appreciate how far the teachers go to try and understand and truly HELP students who are having trouble/ being trouble. They are having a HUGE push for anti-bullying behaviors too in the Boso!

    • YES! AWESOME! I bet I could totally beat them up. I won’t ever actually threaten them with that, though, I think. I’m not really a fighter type. xD As much as I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I don’t think I could ever actually kick ass like she does. I talk big, but I’m a softie.

      I kind of wonder why they think I look like I could beat them up. xD What photo did you show them?

      I will try to get on Kaito’s good side. But–ew, popular kids. Is he at least popular for a good reason?

      Yeah, I’ve noticed that some teachers really take care of the students. Like when Kamada-sensei took two class periods off to talk to one kid, who she said was having “some sort of trouble.”

      I heard bullying was a big problem in Japan, which is really disappointing for me. I wasn’t bullied much, only a little, because people were too scared of me to bully me. (I guess I was scary, at least in high school. In middle school I was bullied a little, but in high school I guess I became scary. You know, like, “It’s always the quiet ones” sort of deal. People left me alone for the most part, especially after I called out some football players for throwing mayonnaise on me. They never messed with me again! Haha?)

      • Kim says:

        Yeah I guess bullying happens anywhere and sadly sometimes the teachers get in on it (whether or not they realize it) so that can really suck. I always tried to let the kids know I was there if they wanted to talk and to my surprise some of the kids who were really bullied/ upset with life DID come talk to me… I guess they figure the ALTS are different enough that they are not going to blab to the other teachers.
        I was pretty frustrated with ***sensei actually because I repeatedly reported bullying to her and she kept acting like she cared and then doing NOTHING about it even when it happened right in front of her!! *RANT*

        HAHA Kaito is “popular” in a funny way… like when you have kids answer questions about what they did over the weekend they will say things like “I went to Kaito’s house” or ask them their favorite sport and they will say “Kaito” but EVERYONE will say things like that and Kaito will get angry. A few students even did “Kaito” as their show and tell project last year! So it is kind of like they are bullying him, but in a funny way and he can take it because he clearly enjoys it.

      • umigameadventurer says:

        Haha, okay, I see about Kaito. Yeah, he can take that sort of thing.

        I wish I could tell the kids that I’m here for them if they want to talk, but unfortunately, I don’t think I can speak enough Japanese. XD But I can certainly sit there and keep them company when they cry, if that ever happens. Sometimes that’s just what people need.

  3. Pingback: Om nom nom | The Grand Adventure of El

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