Posted by: eaglet86 | June 21, 2011

Meet Rainy Season

Not much time to write lately, mostly because of upcoming stuff (like a kendo exam in 5 days, and then the JLPT in 12), but I thought I’d mention to the lovely people back home that yes, you get rain.  And yes, you get lots of it.  But you don’t get rain AND heat at the same time.  I do.

My weather forecast:

My Weather Forecast. Total predicted rainfall: 50mm

Your weather forecast:

Home's Weather Forecast. Total predicted rainfall: 20mm

I win.  So let me be the better whiner.

 

It’s tsuyu in Japan.

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Posted by: eaglet86 | May 22, 2011

Snippet: At the Market

An interesting moment at the market this past weekend.  Thoughts?

I was browsing the fresh produce section when I spotted some zucchini- green AND golden!   [Zucchinis are uncommon in Japan]  As I was looking through them I had the following conversation (all in Japanese) with a woman who was also examining them:

Woman: “Oh, these aren’t cucumbers.”
Me: “That’s true.  They are zucchini.  It’s often eaten in foreign countries.  It’s similar to an eggplant.”
Woman: “Oh.  It’s foreign. [puts zucchini back, gives me the once over] You’re foreign!”  [turns her back and walks away in a huff]
Me: [stunned silence, and then in a Japanese accent] “Wow.”

Fun Fact:  According to the ‘omniscient’ Wikipedia, the zucchini is “an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower.”

Posted by: eaglet86 | May 12, 2011

Aftermath

Hey all,

Well, two months ago yesterday, a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.  I’ve been reluctant to blog about what happened.  I didn’t know what to write, how to write, and I know I didn’t want to contribute to the sensationalism at the time.  But I was reminded that the clean-up is still happening when I saw yesterday’s local newspaper- a catamaran that had been washed ashore and ‘grounded’ on the roof of a building by the tsunami, was finally lifted off and the newspaper had published a picture of it to mark the two-month date.

Overall, the earthquake damaged more than 18  of the 47 prefectures in Japan.  While not located in one of those 18 prefectures, we felt the effects in my little coastal town too.  Roads were blocked off, and the entire coastline was on a tsunami warning for over 24 hours.  A tsunami did hit my area with some damage as it traveled up local rivers, but it was minor in comparison to the damage in the Tohoku region.

Even though it has been 2 months since the earthquake struck, I will never forget watching the footage live in the TV in my office.   To see a bridge that, only a few minutes earlier, was well above the rising wave of seawater washed over and know that in earlier footage there had been people standing on it, and to witness cars going as fast as they can to out run the wave only to be completely surrounded- these are memories that still affect me.

I’m mentioning this now, because I have come across a blog written by a nurse who was sent to the Tohoku region after the earthquake and tsunami.  You may have seen this blog mentioned in the news, but it is worth re-posting.  The original blog can be found here, but it is written in Japanese.  An anonymous blogger has translated the entire blog into English, allowing even more people to read it.

I’ve only read a portion of the blog, but it is heart breaking.  Please continue to keep the Tohoku region of Japan in your thoughts and prayers, and please do not pass by the fundraisers because you are ‘tired of hearing about giant waves and death.’

In addition to coming across the translated blog, I also had a recent experience at one of my elementary schools that shook me quite badly.  An earthquake drill (it had been planned before the Tohoku earthquake) occurred during my visit to that school, and in my silly mind, I thought “This is good.  I’ll be able to see what the Japanese earthquake procedures are, and compare them to the ones back home.”
The earthquake drill was announced, and the kids ducked under their desks and performed countdown for 90 seconds.  Afterwards, I watched them run outside to the athletic field with their textbooks over their heads (as a makeshift protection from falling debris)… and I lost it.  My mind took what I was seeing and overlapped it with the images and news coming from Tohoku and I felt horror and fear.  These are my students.  And we don’t know when the massive earthquake predicted for my prefecture will hit, but we know it will be within the next 50 years which means that my students, these children that I know by name and love, will, at some point in their lives, experience the same thing that has just happened in Tohoku.
I started crying and I had to turn away from the group. And it took me a while to get myself under control.

This is incredibly selfish of me, but I don’t want to be alive when I hear about the earthquake occurring in my prefecture.

Posted by: eaglet86 | May 9, 2011

Yeah, yeah, I know…

久しぶり… Sorry everyone.  I got lazy. And busy.

The main source of busy-ness was the prefectural musical that took up almost all of my weekends from January to end of April.  Same as last year, foreigners who live in my prefecture produce and perform the musical in the local Japanese dialect.  This year the story line combined Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with the story of a samurai who united the prefecture and beyond… even attempted to take over Japan as well.

The story involved the Ghosts of — Past, Present and Future… and guess who was Ghost of –Past?  That’s right… me!  It was a huge switch from being just an extra last year to having so many lines, intense costume and makeup, and being in two full scenes.  Thankfully my character was not required to sing  *phwef!
The directors wanted Ghost of — Past to be a senile Kabuki actor who eventually gets beaten up by some bullies in the ‘Past’ scene, a la Ebizo Ichikawa.

My entry as the Ghost of -- Past

This is the photo that my makeup was based on… the ‘Lion’ kabuki character type.

Actually a doll, but this is the typical look for a 'Lion' kabuki character.

Anyways, the make-up was such a nightmare.  At our dance retreat about 6 weeks before performances, I did an allergy test with the white face paint, and got nada… but then the first weekend of technical rehearsals I wake up with a swollen eyelid and cheekbone!  Lovely.  And then later on, we discovered that the red paint was so strong that it traveled through a layer of moisturizer, baby powder and two layers of white paint to stain my skin an icky orange for two days.  Not my idea of attractive, but it certainly was dramatic and gave me a reason to talk to my teachers and students about the Musical- encouraging them to come!

The musical was well attended, and we raised quite a bit of money for a bursury to a local student who wishes to go abroad to study [any] foreign language.  Applications have yet to go out, but last year we sent a guy to France to study French and French cuisine!  YUM!

I’ll leave it there.  I hate it when the first blog post in a long time is an overwhelmingly long one.  Just because I haven’t posted in a long time doesn’t mean that I need to tell you every little thing that has happened since my last post.  Hope your lives are going well!

Posted by: eaglet86 | March 10, 2011

From the Classroom

It’s almost the end of the Japanese school year, and for a bit of a break from the usual textbook activities, M-sensei at my Junior High School gathered about 50 travel brochures for different places and told the 2年生 to write a short essay on where they want to go, why and what they will do.  Here is my favourite, exactly as written:

“I want to go to the United Emirates.  I want to meet an oil king.  When I go, I will stay at an expensive hotel.  I will go shopping at the expensive hotel.”

When I asked this student why he wanted to meet an oil king, he replied “To meet his daughter.”
Me: “But she can’t speak Japanese.”
Student: “I can speak English!”

 

I love this class.

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