Saturday, June 21, 2008

fighto, fighto to-chu!

My work day today consisted of attending a baseball game. But as with most things involving sports in this country, the attendance was taken very seriously. As attendees, we were required to perform several coordinated cheers over and over again, with the entire school band present to back us up. Thank god we won, the effort would have been considerably embarrassing if we hadn't. We were given 30-second breaks to sit down and gulp water every fifteen minutes or so but the rest of the time was spent yelling at the top of our lungs, banging megaphones together and making cheer gestures with them together in unison. Suprisingly, it was really fun! But when we won, the feeling was definitely "Oh, thank god it's over, so we can go home and rest" instead of "yayyyyyyyyyyyyy". I was eager to get out of the sun, too, which brings me to the interesting Japanese approach to direct sulight, which is to wear more clothing in order to protect the skin. Every teacher there besides me was wearing a jacket, gloves, wide-brimmed hat and long pants, despite the probabaly 90-degree heat. Every teacher and student (except me) also had a small towel they used as a sweat rag around their neck. My approach was more heavy on the sunscreen, less on the clothing. Anyway, back to the field tomorrow for another game!

a semi-candid shot of the ichinensei boys, there just to cheer for their sempais

bowing to the other team to thank them for their friendly cheer

super serious cheer guards

purposeless hats on band members


team bowing to us to thank us for cheering

the scoreboard - the game won me about $10 from the opposing school's ALT

and some random stuff from around school:

I worked on this giant sign with the art club a few times before I realized it said COOL (because we go to higashi chu)

barely visible so far, they planted "WE CAN!!" into the rice field outside of the school

a couple weeks ago students had to write little blurbs for me about an aspect of japanese culture, here are some interesting ones:

Mt. Chokai from Honjo Park

Monday, June 16, 2008

tiny tiny island

I spent last weekend on the tiny tiny island of Tobishima. Amelie, Edel and I got to the ferry docks in Sakata at the very last possible minute on Saturday morning - to catch our 8:45am ferry. Little did we notice in our flurry of boarding the boat filled with already drunk fishermen and their gear a 7.0 earthquake that hit the area at that exact time. The engine started and we were off, and it became clear that the sea was very, very angry. We forewent playing cards and eventually, even talking, to pass the time, in favor of concentrating wholly on the horizon line while our stomachs lurched with the waves. I've never experienced sea sickness before, but never had I been on a boat for so long (1.5 hours) in such rough water. There was a TV on the boat, and some kind of report with a map came on about 10 minutes into the trip, which the fishermen were so interested in, I assumed it had to do with fish. It was only when we reached the island and received calls and messages that we found out about the earthquake. Anyway, everyone in Akita seems to be all right and no major damage. However, Ichinoseki in Iwate where my parents and I went to that beautiful gorge and stayed at the ryokan, seemed to be hit pretty badly, in addition to the terrible damage to Kurihara in Miyagi-ken.

Back to the island, this was the perfect girls' weekend, especially perfect for me since I've been cathing up on my Lost and reading Into the Wild. I do believe this is one of the very few places in Japan with NO conbini (convenience stores), rice fields, or pachinko parlors. The island was so small, you could easily bike around it's circular main road in less than an hour. We found a perfect campsite in a protected little area of a shrine near a beach. Actually, we found out later that camping was forbidden on the entire island, but it seems like residents didn't care too much/weren't interested in confronting the gaijins. The popularity of the island was for fishermen, who seemed to come just for the day/weekend hosted by local outfitters. There were also quite a few middle-aged and older couples there for a day hike to see the island's beautiful wildflowers. Bikes were available to "borrow" for free near the dock to explore the island. And so we did.

camp jinja!

our front yard, the beach!

the entrance to our humble abode

our front yard beach

tobishima's main road

tiny tiny island map

amelie and edel

some hardcore fishermen, there were a lot of these

wild echinacea, I think

the famous yamagata cherries! not so sweet yet.

tiny tiny torii

the wild yellow lilies!

"chinese" garbage. the dvd was intact!

random cave entrance, enter at your own risk!

lights on the fishing boats

island ramen - the orange bit is a lily!

downtown tobishima

tobishima from the mainland

some buddhas carved into the coastal rock near Sakata