akita is getting ridiculous amounts of coverage in the nytimes. here they talk about the waning economies in rural Japan. I think it's quite true. also, in case you missed the last link, here's a photo from the fashion photo shoot from that travel article. you can compare with my own pics of the exact same spot (taken back over autumnal equinox).
Last weekend I visited some galleries in akita city with a friend. One featured a long series of fascinating photographs of 1950s akita. Wow! Some of them looked like they were taken in ancient times, and there was a funny one of a mary kay/avon type lady looking like a 1950s american housewife, holding court over a group of women dressed very traditionally, teaching them how to apply make-up in a tatami room. another gallery was in an amazing space overlooking the canal that runs through the city.
That night, I attended what I had thought would be a professional classical ballet performance with Cathy and Edel. No, it was a little girls' dance school end-of-year recital. About 30 little girls (some of whom turned out to be my students) ran around on stage doing what I could only describe as interpretive dance. The highlights for me were the two classical ballet numbers done by a few of the older girls, and the two christmas-themed jazz songs. The lowlight was a 45-minute interpretive dance to The Lion King, music complete with japanese lyrics. Weird, to say the least. But the craziest thing was thinking about how much the girls must have had to practice to memorize the 30 separate dances! In my day, you had one dance to one song to memorize for your recital, and that was plenty.
This past week at elementary school, I noticed that the 6th graders are particularly boisterous. They are in fact, the only kids I teach that I get the "too-cool-for-school" attitude from. They prefer to scream continuously and/or do pile ups. Today my JTE told me they had been talking about the Ozaki 6th graders (half of whom will move on to Higashi come April) at the staff meeting, and that they heard there were some bad eggs. They are worried and have started "preparing". I said I was sure Higashi would "whip them into shape" (an idiom my JTE really liked).
In other news, it's snowing (and melting) a lot. The local ski hill should be opening soon, and I hope to get at least one trip in before I leave for thailand (dec 19)!