The first day of December coincided with an elementary school visit that I didn't feel prepared for. I would say it wasn't my best showing. The reason for that is the 12 Days of Christmas song that I tried to have the students sing. Naturally I didn't expect them to sing the whole thing because it's a little fast. I should have let them listen to it once first and then tried doing some signing a second time through. I hate that feeling you get when you know whatever you planned out is going down hill faster than you can save it. I have another elementary school tomorrow so I have a chance to redeem myself. I'm going to only do the song with the older students. The young ones get the construct a gingerbread house lesson. They only need to color and cut things out which saves me from trying to teach them to sing with English approximated pronunciation.
Today was a lot better as I had the opportunity to go to a kindergarten and hang out with the kids all morning through the early afternoon. The main reason they asked me to come was because they were making mochi. Mochi is rice that has been hammered in a stone bowl with a giant mallet. It becomes very stretch and chewy. This is then eaten plain with some side toppings or bean paste is put inside. The mochi making was somewhat peripheral to all the funny and cute kids though. The other ALT a half hour north of me said something along the lines of wanting to steal a Japanese kid for himself. It's a known fact that little Japanese kids melt your frontal lobe, causing you to do things against your own will. I arrived at the kindergarten at about 9am and was sent to one of the classrooms. I'm not sure if they stuck me with the only male teacher on purpose or if it was at random. He is a really nice guy and actually lives here in my village somewhere. I often wonder how any of the teachers at the kindergarten I went to keep their sanity. It is a mad house of noise, screaming, yelling, laughing, and a billion other random things going on at once. Students have a lot of general freedom when it comes to free time and they are not always supervised nor are they mandated to all do the same exact thing.
My day started with helping tie handkerchiefs and aprons on all the kids in the classroom. It takes awhile to get everyone tied up. However, I don't know if this getup was all that necessary. It is probably to subliminally reinforce domestication roles that the boys will more than likely never fulfill, save for their estranged wives who have to deal with their intoxicated stupor after work. That is reading far too deep into the use of handkerchiefs and aprons. Everyone had to grab their little chair and proceed outside to the playground area.
Pounding that mochi.
I wasn't kidding about the handkerchiefs and aprons was I?
I'm not sure if all the (I think they were moms) were sick or they were just being hygienic with the mochi serving.
Mouths were getting dirty big time. Some of these kids pounded 6 and 7 balls of mochi down their gullet. They all assured me that they would eat still eat lunch...
After making mochi everyone retreated back inside to change and get ready for play time. All the students were competing to get me to play with them. It was hard to keep them from getting angry at me. One kid almost had a breakdown. I did my best and played some card games that made no sense. I even played a pianca for the first time in my life. Piano that you blow into to make sound. I always wanted to try one so I jumped at the chance. These things are all over the Japanese school system. I'm planning to steal one when I get the chance.
After crawling through a block house filled with ghost pictures and pretending to be scared, we all headed outside for more play time. Too bad there weren't any big unicycles for me to ride. They would have LOVED to see me ride one.
And time to say goodbye after a day of fun and zero responsibility on my part.
Little Japanese kids are so incredibly difficult to understand. It makes for funny conversation because they think I'm either so stupid or just crazy. Generally speaking I could communicate just fine with the kids. It wouldn't be a problem if you didn't know Japanese it's just ten times more fun to say funny things to them in Japanese. These days leave me feeling happy that I have such opportunities. When else in my life am I going to play with Japanese kindergarten kids and make mochi. Probably never so I enjoy it for all it's worth.
Last but not least. They couldn't have the foreigner come and not mallet some mochi. Yours truly.