First week on the job…kinda

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So it’s the end of the first full week. All I can say is I didn’t think I would get through it. Because it’s the middle of the summer holidays there are no students. On top of that from 13-15 here in Kehi is Obon. For those non-Japanese studiers, Obon is essentially a Buddhist tradition of honouring your ancestors. Many Japanese people take this time off work to visit the places of their ancestors to tidy the graves and pray or even just to be with family. Typically fireworks and dancing are involved. In my town, there will be Obon dancing in costumes tonight, providing that it stops raining and the thunderstorms that were predicted pass over.

My desk at school

My desk at school

Back on point, since its Obon there are not many people at school. On Monday and Tuesday, there were students practicing Baseball, tennis, volleyball and brass band and about half of the teachers were here. The brass band practices sometimes in the hallway near the staff room. I always have a good chuckle when they start playing the song, “I know what boys like”.

Part of the Staff Room

Part of the Staff Room

On Monday one of the teachers, M. Sensei made everyone fresh udon noodles and we ate them with chilled soy sauce. Turns out he speaks and understands a bit of English so we chatted about New Zealand for a while before he disappeared to help one of the school clubs.

Outside of School

Outside of School

Tuesday was bread day! A station wagon rocked up the school driveway, full of bread! I wish I got a photo, maybe next Tuesday. I got a chicken karaage, fried chicken, roll and some doughnuts. Best lunch ever. It helped break up the day nicely and I buttered up all the teachers I could find by sharing my mini doughnuts. I love bread day.

Yellow watermelon!

Yellow watermelon!

I met up with my landlords that night and they made me curry rice for dinner which was so delicious although it was around 32 degrees so I ended up just over boiling. Noticing I was melting Papa (they asked me to call them Mama and Papa) gave me fresh yellow watermelon. My eyes almost popped outta my head. Yellow? I asked them in a shocked voice. Papa seemed proud by my reaction. He grows them himself, I`m not sure how he makes them yellow but I was so super impressed. I`d only ever seen red watermelon. I wonder if blue watermelon exists? Papa grows a lot of fresh veges and fruit, they said that throughout the year they would give me fresh veges so that’s exciting. Everything here tastes so much more juicy and fresh than back home.

My walk home

My walk home

Wednesday was daunting because it was the first day of Obon and it was just my Principal, the janitor and myself at school. With the students away, there isn’t much for me to do. I wrote down a bunch of words from around the staffroom and translated them, and wrote down useful everyday words to learn. I tried to work on making an English board but everything I think of I think is lame. My predecessor happens to be amazing and everyone loved her, she was very creative apparently. Me, on the other hand, not so much. It`s easier for me to write than create pretty pictures. Anyway somehow I managed to kill a couple of hours researching places to put on the boards and made it to 4.15 somehow.

Thursday and Friday were a little more relaxed as it was my Vice Principal there instead of the principal. On Friday, my Vice Principal drove me around in the morning to my two Elementary schools. After we visited the first one briefly he took me to a nearby beach.

Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock

Tai beach I think. He wanted to show me where the Junior high school kids like to swim and when we got there I could see his heart break. There was a typhoon last week and the rivers were heavily flooded and the sea was rough and apparently a bit of garbage washed up on the shore. He explained to me, looking so sad, that in June that all the local schools had teamed up to clean up the beach including all the staff. That it brought the community together by working as a team. My heart melted, poor guy. He was really excited to show me the beach and was so depressed to see it dirty. My Vice Principal is amazing. He`s such a lovely guy.

Then we were off to the next Elementary. I visit them on Thursdays, starting in the middle of September, I alternative between them each week. Turns out the other Elementary school is under major repairs. Didn’t even have to change my outside shoes into my inside ones, which is a big deal in Japan. I wonder if it`ll be finished when I start visiting there.

Yesterday I made my first trip into the main area of Toyooka and promptly exploded from overexposure to everything cute. EVERYTHING IS CUTE. Jeez, it was a shock. I even found a cute toilet plunger. I knew Japanese people like cute things but whoa I was not ready for everything at the Aity department store. I think I might try to go back there either today or this weekend as I only bought a couple of things when I need a lot of stuff from the city. Finally got a backpack so I can carry more groceries home. I’m pretty sure I scared the staff in Tsutaya by grabbing a load of books that I wanted from all around the store and then asking where the Japanese Language Proficiency Test textbooks were. Got an amazing purple jacket from Uniqlo because it started to rain and I didn’t have my umbrella with me. It’s like a million times better than my Kathmandu one.

Local Kehi Street

Local Kehi Street

My super-friendly Vice Principal said that I could leave work early today at 2pm I will head off home, get changed outta my business clothes and decide whether or not I want to risk getting wet biking to Kinosaki and then catching the train. If it`s not too heavy I think I will.

One thought on “First week on the job…kinda

  1. Hello from another kiwi blogging JET! I’m a second year up in Utsunomiya, Tochigi. I just read a couple of your posts, I’m glad things are going well for you. Isn’t the yellow watermelon delicious? It’s often for sale in my local supermarket, and maybe it’s a trick of the mind with the novelty and all that, but it tastes better than regular pink watermelon to me.

    You’re so lucky living near the beach! Shame about the typhoon, I hope it’s been tidied up a bit.

    How are you liking Hyogo? I’m sure you’re a bit busier now than when you first arrived in summer – sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse 😛

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