Monday, October 20, 2008


So I guess a few interesting things have happened since I last wrote here.
My school had their annual school festival, and I decided to not bring my camera this year, figuring it would be similar to last year where I took tons of photos. There was a lot of the same, but I did sadly miss shots of one of the students dressing up as the popular young (African-American, or according to my students, 100% Japanese) enka singer, Jero, including doing blackface. There was also a pretty terrible student rock band named "Silly God Disco Stardust", and a funny moment when all the 3rd grade homeroom teachers got up to sing the Ponyo song (possibly awarded most annoying song ever, after listening to the school orchestra practicing it daily for weeks) accompanied by the school band.

It was a fun day, this time around I specifically asked for a job to do, as all the teachers and students had one, and I was given the job of yelling "Irrashiamase!" and "Arigato gozaimashita!" at the door to the "flea market" classrooms. I know now a little more about what it would be like to work at a Lawson's convenience store, although I kept my voice deep and did not let it get several octaves higher as the female conbini employees often do. The theme to the festival this year was "Join us!", a little brainwashy-sounding but certainly better than last year's non-sensical "Shining true flowers". At lunch I went outside as it was a nice day but was immediately struck by the scary entering-the-school-cafeteria-alone feeling, worriedly contemplating where and with whom to sit, but thankfully I was saved by a gaggle of third-grade girls from my elementary school, who dragged me over to their picnic area and offered me cookies and invited me to go to the haunted house with them. I love my elementary schoolers who just treat me like another 8-year old, and are so willing to be incredibly patient with my Japanese, explaining what they are trying to say to me 15 different ways until I get it.

Honjo also just hosted, fairly inexplicably, the World Championships for Women's Roller Hockey. I only got to see the last day of the competition, but it was so much fun! Not only to see a diverse group of gaijin, but the game itself was very exciting to watch! Spain won 1st, with I think Portugal 2nd and Argentina 3rd. The US, France, Germany, South Africa, England, Macau, Chile, and a few other countries sent teams and the night after the finals we ran into some of the American team and Chilean coaches out on the town, which was fun! I feel sorry for them - trying to find a place in Honjo to celebrate was difficult!

The next week was another sports competition, cricket! Phil had organized an Akita team and invited Sendai's team down for a tournament. I watched about 5 hours of it as I was catering as a fundraiser for Room to Read and must say, you know, it's not really an interesting sport to watch. But making hamburger patties kept me busy and the Sendai team was fun to meet.

And this past weekend I did a lot of koyo, viewing of the changing leaves. I love how Japan makes the changing of the seasons into important events. Jez, Matthew and I headed up north to Appi, the big ski resort, where I talked with some pension owners about a possible future group trip there (also a fundraiser for Room to Read). The leaves were I think in their peak time in the area, stunning. We then went down to the Yuzawa area. After hanging out with a local JET for his birthday party, we went to a udon factory, which was less interesting than it sounds, had a picnic with our Japanese class, and then to a canyon with natural sulfur springs steaming out of the rock face. I wanted to jump in but I guess that might have been frowned upon.

This was taken from a weird parking lot on the side of a narrow mountain road near Lake Tazawa. After we had pulled in and started taking pictures, a cop car pulled in behind us. The cop got out of his car and started walking towards us and began to pull something out of his pants pocket. We were very afraid and started back towards our car, looking to make a get away. But what did he pull out? His keitai - he wanted to take pictures of the pretty leaves too.

This was at a michi-no eki on the mountain road where they were having an all-out autumn festival including pounding rice into mochi. In the video you can see where some of the glutenous stuff flew out onto my camera lens! Yum.

In Appi pension village, possibly one of my favorite places in the world

At Appi ranch...this is what I think heaven looks like.

At the ranch they were having pig races

They also had a goat kid and cow for petting

These was taken from a bridge described as the best koyo spot in Iwate-ken Matthew, me and Jez The next day at a picnic with our Japanese class fellow folk - since we were further south the leaves were just starting to change

And last but not least, I'm almost out of space on this blog, so I'm thinking of either moving this over to wordpress or creating a new blogger one ie. sophie in akita 2. I've looked a little at wordpress but am not too crazy about it, but it might just be because I'm so used to blogger now. But that 3 G of space is incredibly tempting! I'll let you know what I decide.

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