Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Down is Out

This past week was an oblivion of time and space. English days were held at two middle schools over a period of two days each. The goal is to encourage deeper English communication and practice. Maybe a dash of culture on the side or something. Who really knows how to teach culture though? I want to know who thought of there is nothing more American than apple pie. How does that make sense? Apples came from the middle east. All culture is fabricated anyway so if we are going to teach it we might as well just invent some new things to go along with it.

English days at the middle school were rather fun. We had an English village that simulated travel to an English speaking country. Students had to go through customs and change money at the bank. Then they had other tasks to complete in English. To prevent students from using Japanese we had a policeman that arrested students who spoke Japanese. They were detained and thrown in jail for a short time. I personally was the policeman for one class period. But the first year students were so timid and quiet I wasn't catching them. I had to resort to devilish tactics to land some poor souls in the prison. So at the restaurant where students could buy drinks I was doing kanpai (equivalent to cheers) to get students to speak Japanese. It's like clock work. When they hear it and see me raise my hand they can't prevent the words slipping from their lips. Seeing as everyone has become ADHD with the advent of internet, I'll just spare you the rest of the sundry details. However, one ALT was playing a cultural game of tag and bashed his head in on a desk. Got six stitches at the local hospital. Last year I heard he gashed his hand open on something and had to go to the hospital at another school.

I managed to make some cookies this week. Too much work in one night. I should have split the labor across two evenings but I needed to take the cookies to school the following day. The kids were happy and told me to open a cookie shop because they were so delicious. I'm sure that is is a lucrative business in these parts.

We worked on Saturday and had school half the day. The second half was disaster prevention education. The best mini lecture was the one about landslides. Really rad videos of mountain sides sliding off. The rest of the event was rather lackluster. The lunch was rice balls and some soup. All of it was bland. I suppose that is why the pickled vegetables are provided. I have developed a strong liking for those and gladly eat them when available.

I managed to pay for and receive my bus tickets today. I was a little unsure of where I was going but I ended up at the right place. I wonder if anyone is a sucker to pay a dollar to park at the station for under 20 minutes when they can just park at the drug store across the street. I'm sure there are tons. As you can see I don't fall into said category. On my way to a used goods store I came across a rug and carpet shop. It also sells snake or crocodile hand bags, maybe. Outside the store was a rack of random backpacks and bags on sale. What a stroke of luck to find a 10 dollar backpack that is bigger than the one I have. Exactly what I was hoping to find. It's big and high quality straight from China. Just what I like. This is probably as cheap as one will find in Japan. It's nothing special with one large inner section and an outside zipper section. Feels unbelievably cheap but it was cheap. Can't be beat.

I stopped in a men's ware shop to find a coat. They were all on sale and cheap. The only problem is that the large sizes make me feel like my arms are going to tear through the shoulders. XL sizes aren't massively huge but fit better. There none to be seen in the style I wanted so I moved to a used clothing store. The prices for coats here are all over the place. Mostly over priced but I stumbled upon a little gem. Most of the down coat-esque items are not actually made with down. Rather they probably have cotton and other synthetics that don't stay as warm. I found an awesome Carhartt down coat that fit perfectly. The down is slowly leaking out at various seems around the coat which I wasn't so sure about. Yet, the price was only about 18 dollars and it's super warm. I'm definitely lugging this to Nagano with me. Probably the best find of the day.

Two and half more days of school. Here I come Honshu.


Nancy said...

i'm sending you an email b/c i have too much to say here BUT i must state here that you forgot to mention your cookie recipe has been in the family for decades!!! super duper excited about your trip! since yoko reads your blogs, this is a note to Yoko: Thank you so much for hosting Blaine. I wish you and your family an extraordinarily Happy New Year! I hope the pizza turns out to be yummy! love from Blaine's mom :)

yoko said...

Thank you for your message! I am very glad to hear from you. I am really looking forward to seeing Blaine again! My family is also excited about that. It will be fun this New Year for my family. I'm sure my family and myself will like Blaine's pizza.
Have a very merry christmas and a wonderful new year, too!

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