Thursday, November 15, 2007

picnic & ikebana

last week, honjo higashi junior high trekked down to the nearby river and had a picnic on its banks, as requested by kochosensei. i'm not sure why november was deemed a good time to do this, but hey, who doesn't love a nice picnic. within each class, there are assigned lunch groups of 4-6, who push their desks together (they eat in their classrooms) everyday to enjoy the meal and stimulating conversation. for the picnic, each lunch group was given their own picnic blanket, gas stove and ingredients for making a soup. the kids had a great time and no one was injured using the stoves! i got to talking to a couple of sannensei (9th grade) girls for a while, who told me my outfit was well-coordinated. I said I was sorry I did not have a track suit to match everyone else, and they jokingly offered me theirs. I then asked them why they thought their track suits had the school name written in romaji, and "junior high school" written in english. they answered quickly, "of course, for the gaikokujin (foreignors), so they can read it and know who we are when they see us." to which I replied, "what gaikokujin? sophie-sensei and......who?". this stumped them, so they came to the conclusion that they were printed that way solely for my benefit.

some 7th graders - the boys have on the ubercool silver baseball jackets

some sannensei

the pre-clean up time briefing, with kochosensei looking down from above

trekking back to school

A couple of days ago I went to an ikebana (japanese art of flower arranging) exhibition in akita city. This whetted my appetite for a class I had arranged through my japanese teacher, miwa-sensei, who works at an herb shop. Edel and I went, with miwa, to the home of an ikebana master who taught us a beginner level arrangement. It was fascinating, all about geometric balance and simplicity, and I definitely want to learn more.

the exhibition

here you can see how they keep the flowers in place within the vase, with little twigs fitted against the insides of the vase

an interesting one involving yarn

the class

edel and i with the master

me and miwa-sensei

as you might have guessed, we traded arrangements when we got home (no pink for me, thanks!)

as seen in one of the ikebana arrangements at the exhibition, here is the fruit of the season - kaki (persimmons). There are seemingly thousands of trees filled with their fruit all around town, including this one right outside my balcony. I am offered them constantly at work, and they are indeed delicious, very juicy like a mango.

My fellow honjovian ALTs and I are doing online fantasy sumo - there are sumo tournaments every 2 months in different parts of japan that last for 15 days. the current one is happenning in kyushu, the island to the south of mainland japan. i based my picks on the prettiness of their skirts, and my fashion sense has served me well - I have been dominating the standings with my picks - was in 1st place a couple of days ago, currently in 3rd place (out of 300 something). we'll see how i fare as the tournament wages on, as there is chu-hi at stake. what else is going on? i've been visiting more onsens, particularly enjoying the ones with outdoor baths (can't wait till it snows!), helping a few kids one-on-one praticing for their english interview tests which they must take as part of an entrance exam for a few high-level high schools, and teaching some french lessons. the weekend after this one I will be visiting tokyo!

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