Sunday, February 24, 2008

let's kamakura!

Last weekend I went to Yokote's kamakura festival, for which a few parts of the town are filled with igloo-like snow huts. Friendly locals manned the huts (very homey inside!) to serve visitors snacks and drinks. There were also tons of mini-igloos filled with candles on the riverbank in the city, but unfortunately it was snowing so hard that night, pics of that magical scene did not come out. All in all it was quite fun, and something I had been looking forward to as it was one of the first things I heard about Akita before I came. The best part of the festival was definitely sliding down a big curvy snowslide on trash bags with my fellow honjoites at the end of the night after all the kiddies had gone home.

it's a kamakura!

an inside look...surprise! you have to take off your shoes.

a small shrine kamakura

we finally made it inside one! amelie, jon, owen, cathy and edel

I was very disappointed when I discovered this snow sculpture was not a rabbit, as I had hoped from afar, but pikachu

edel took amelie for a sleigh ride through the wonderland of snow

Aomori, the province north of akita, is said to have the best apples in japan. I think these are some of theirs, with kanji carved in for fun.

My favorite picture from the festival! A random baby positioned into a mickey sculpture for photo opps! genius.

(thanks edel for the pics!)

Also, this weekend, at my school enkai, I was invited to participate in the Shinto prayer ceremony prior to the party which included drinking the "sake of god" presented by a shinto priest. I'm not such a sake fan, but it was quite delicious! At the party I talked to several teachers about the 3rd year students and the process of getting into high schools. I cannot believe the stress the kids, parents, and teachers go through. A while back all the kids took interview tests as part of the entrance exams for the more academic high schools, but only a handful are admitted based on those scores alone; most everyone has to take the comprehensive written test as well, which is coming up. And I am sure this test would put my little old Our Lady of Lourdes "impossible to fail" entrance test to shame. Graduation is in a couple weeks and I've realized I'm going to miss the sannenseis, they were definitely the students I got to know best as individuals, and I'll be sad to see them leave. Of course, I have my incoming first years, half of which will be the naughty 6th graders from my elementary school, to look forward to!


Natalie said...

try four year olds having panic attacks when going on their admissions interviews, which along with psychological testing determines which kindergarten they get into (which ultimately determines whether they get into harvard or not).

sophiesaffron said...

i know, i know. You should probably quit (and move to Japan) in protest of that crazy system.