Thursday, November 1, 2007

hallowed eve

so, you thought halloween wasn't celebrated in japan...did you really think the japanese would pass up an opportunity to dress in costume and decorate things? well, the truth is, it isn't really (sadly, no trick or treating or carving of jack o lanterns), although they do sell quite a fair bit of decorations and costume accessories at the 100yen store.

Anyway, this weekend kicked off with shining true flowers, my school festival (by the way, i asked another one of my JTEs if she could explain the phrase to me, as well as why it was the slogan for the festival, and i didn't really get a straight answer there either, although she did tell me the kids created a new kanji to explain it in japanese (?)). the festival consisted of several performances of varying types in the school gymatorium. but it all started with my personal highlight - a contest for each class (there are 13) to say konnichiwa! to the rest of the audience the loudest and most in unison. the class that won cleverly said it in harmony.


the obligatory speech from kochosensei, including at least 3 "gambatte!"s

the first performance was a play that I think was supposed to be a parody of a japanese tween TV program similar to degrassi. then there were several band performances, including ones where two of the funnier male teachers sang lead quite passionately, and where a few ichinensei girls came out with glittering gold pom poms and did a somber interpretive dance of an accompaniment. sadly, i did not not capture these moments with photos. then came lunchtime, during which each class had to organize and run an activity. there was a haunted house in the wood shop whch was by far the most popular, but i didn't manage to make it in (could have tried to "gaijin smash" it, as it were, by "accidentally" surpassing the 100+ people line, but in the end decided against it). there was a fun 2nd-hand shop in one of the classrooms where I picked up a super-nice kind of 80s-style leather clutch for 300yen. I also made some cotton candy, and admired the kids' artwork. the afternoon was finished off with a talent show of sorts.

the volleyball team's dance

an apparently hilarious tag-team stand-up comedy act

a justin timberlake-esque performance

a cross-dressing parody of the prior performance

the all-school project where the kids wrote their dreams for the future on mugshots

kyotosensei judging the oragami mosaic contest

my two favorites "happiness in the blue sky" and "happy for you"

not really sure what they were going for here

the school play - cross-dressing seemed to be a popular theme

the weird school mascot thing

a giant pinata filled with confetti that took 20 minutes to break marked the end of the day

i then traveled to akita city for the everest of apples' halloween dance party. this was great fun, creative costumes abounded and it was an incredibly successful event, bringing in over 30man (over $3,000). we've now reached our goal to raise enough to cover the costs of building a school in nepal through the room to read program, as well as fund girls' scholarships. hurrah! everybody loves ALT debauchery for a good cause.

the pink bathroom at the venue matched my fairy princess ensemble perfectly

phil is wearing a a griffyndor scarf (ie. ron weasley) i knit myself!

on sunday, I provided entertainment for a halloween party for the small children of honjo, most of whom were from my elementary school. i now see why there are quite a few english all-stars at the school, as they participate in this extra-curricular english program run by a superwoman, junko.

awarding in the "cutest costume" category

at the beginning of the week i attended a conference for the akita ALTs and JTEs that was pretty interesting, including workshops on problems and solutions in team-teaching, intercultural communication, and learning styles in educational psychology. i retired my fairy princess attire yesterday after a long halloween day at my elementary school. i must say that is where it was most well-received, i had a gaggle of little girls following me around for most of the day. I've been teaching using a variation of the chinga-shoot em up, adopted into a vocab review game and it is riotous for them, they love it. oh yes, i wanted to leave you with this list of things the elementary school kids have given to me on various occaisions.

  • a substantially-sized pink faux diamond, given by a fourth grade girl
  • a folded up note, which read on the outside "open" in japanese, and on the inside "goodbye!" in katakana, given by a third grade boy, who slyly gave it to me as he was shaking my hand, and followed it up by pounding me (probably accidental, but still cool)
  • a blank business card with my name (sofe) written at the top, given by a fifth grade girl

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