Wednesday, August 29, 2007

photos galore

once again, a ton of photos for you to enjoy, this time from my new cell phone and some of edel's as well.
but first, a bit of a re-cap: Last week I had to give my welcome speech to the whole school, about 500 kids. I was suprisingly not nervous, and apparently it was so good (?) they had me do it twice. The school is big and very modern, only built 3 years ago. The kids wear a kind of sailor uniform and are all pretty friendly. That same night I had my staff welcome party. This is where I first experienced several very Japanese things - like having your glass constantly refilled by other people - I think the rate was about once every 30 seconds. Also the fact that the only English EVERY japanese person knows is the awkward conversation: "A: Good morning/afternoon/evening. B: (same) A: How are you? B: I am fine thank you and you? A: I am fine, too." and also, "What is your hobby?". I've never had so many adults ask me what my singular hobby was. These are the things which I said which illicited riotous laughter from the rest of the teaching staff at the party:
  • the slang term for school cafeteria staff member in America is "lunch lady"
  • at my previous employer we had just one party a year and it was a lunch (I think most schools here have at least 5 staff parties per year, at which heavy drinking is mandatory)
  • I prefer Japanese beer to American beer (Asahi v. Budweiser? no contest.)
  • In NYC there is a "Hideki Matsui Day" in honor of the Japanese YankeeIn America
  • "Kampai!" is "Cheers!" (although this devolved into "chuuu!" over the course of the night, due to pronunciation difficulties)
On Saturday, me and the ALT gang went to omagari, a town about an hour away from honjo, for the all-japan fireworks competition. as I've previously mentioned, they truly love their fireworks here. we got there quite early to secure a spot and spent the day lounging around picinic-ing. there were some 'daytime fireworks' but these were actually quite unimpressive, more like colored smoke. Once sun set, it was a 3-hour feast for the eyes, it was amazing to be that close as well because you could lay back and they would seemingly fill the sky above you. quite a night.

back to my first day teaching. all my lessons today were my 'self-introduction' - a powerpoint presentation I made of everything you could ever want to know about me, and new york. at a nursery school english level. so, basically, it was pictures. but i really fine-tuned the animations to make it as interesting as possible - the favorite slides were most definitely the ones of all my (18) aunts and uncles, and of me rowing on the river here. it is amazing how different class dynamics can be. i taught 3 ichinenseis (7th graders) today, and 1 sanensei (9th graders). The 9th graders were quite impressive, were able to come up with plenty of questions to ask me. Favorite questions: Do you like natto (fermented soybeans that smell like a horse stable)? What do you eat for breakfast??? The ichinenseis were a bit more timid. My celebrity status at higashi is quite enjoyable, i get plenty of overexcited "HELLO!!!!!! HELLO! HELLO!"'s in the halls. All in all it was a great day, but without further ado, here are the pics:

come on to my house, my house-a-come on:

the entry to my apt

my apt building (which for some reason is called BEAMS21) and my street

the shrine caddycorner from my apt building

same shrine

my bike! they call these "mama cherry"s - pretty much only old ladies and children ride them

the entryway in my apt - shoes off!

my living room

my favorite part of the apt - the balcony

my tiny but efficient kitchen

sliding door into my bedroom


another view of the bedroom

my impressive vanity mirror, and washing machine - the first one i've ever had!

the bath room - also an enclosed shower. the idea is to take a quick shower washing up and then soak in the nice deep tub for a while.

my commute to honjo higashi junior high school (about 7 minutes by bike):

left at the (yellow and gray) "House Rose"

right at "Repose Wing" (you'll have to believe me that's the name of the building)

straight through the rice paddies

and you've arrived on time for the morning staff meeting! which you must attend, even if you do not understand a word, as of course it involves important mandatory bowing and speaking in unison

the staff room at higashi

my desk, with an excellent view

also nearby - Ozaki Elementary School - where I will teach once every two weeks

the Honjo Board of Education office (love the crazy architecture, it even has glass floors inside), where I spent most of my time this August

something I contemplating having for lunch one day, based on cuteness factor alone

back at that park:

the top of the hill in this park reminds me of tall pines at chingachgook...makes me feel at home

random honjo:

sunset over honjo

edel and i went on a long bike ride down these wonderful bike paths that run along the river and through the rice paddies, and seem to go on for miles

honjo's koyoshi river, near where we row

owen and amelie on the beach

canadian jeff-san

some silhouettes - owen, jeff, and edel

me enjoying my new keitai, now complete with charm chain and sparkle stick-on gems

omagari fireworks:

cathy and i chilling out picnic-ing

tasmanian david bought this fireworks bomb for an ichiman...probably dangerous?

the crowd was immense

doug from north dakota

edel and i with our cheesy smiles

owen, me, amelie, and jeff

the fireworks!

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