Today is 11.11.11 on the japanese calander. If that does not deserve an update from me, then I don’t know what does…
Over the weeks in communicating with the locals I have slipped a few times. As in letting idioms and non-self-explanitory phrases slip from my lips. Like “go with the flow.” The scene: a debriefing on the class trip. They asked me if I would like to do anything special, and I said no, I like to go with the flow. Doh. I tried to use the analogy of floating down a river, but that just got me in deeper.
“I am sorry. We will go to a lake. But you can not swim there. And no rivers.”
Eventually we sorted it out. Another phrase (from a movie, not my mouth), “Shit Happens.” This was much easier to explain, with help from the computer translator.
Then there was the time my host mom asked me what kind of jam I liked in my English tea. I looked at her with a surprised expression, and a look of realization swept over her face. She had already had her tea, and there was a plop of orange marmalade left in the bottom of the tea cup. I assume that this intercultural slip-up was a result of the “Do, Re, Mi” song in “The Sound of Music.” (Tea, I drink with jam–) We press on.
One phrase, in a letter that I wrote to the pricipal, is still classified an unsolved mystery: “…as crazy as water running uphill.” Water does not run. You run. Do you run with water? I understand. A river. You run in the river, and this is what is crazy. The river runs? What is “Never mind” ?
I wish there was a better waay to type “arrrgh” than “arrrgh.” Oh well. Ganbarimasho, ne?
The letter to the principal was regarding Shisho’s uniform checks. The main purpose of these checks is to root out the girls who wear thier sailor skirts too short. As far as I know, no male has ever been chastised for wearing his pants too short. My solution was to make the female offenders wear pants. Of couse, I do not know too much Japanese school uniform culture, so my idea could be crazy. As crazy as… (nevermind)
I was invited to go to the ESS (High School English Speaking Society Club) Halloween party. My explaination of Halloween in America was (hopefully) idiom-free. Either they understood me perfectly, or just pretended to. We went trick-or-treating in the various staff rooms, getting food for the party. Something tells me the teahers were let in on this plan beforehand, since plenty of “Men’s Pocky” and (tortilla-shaped crunchy) shrimp-things materialized. I had an enjoy time.
I got my first earthquake (yay!) on the 30th of October. I sleep like a rock, until it is time to wake up. It was 6:30am, almost time to get up, so the quake only woke me half way. I remember being perturbed at whoever was shaking the house. The nerve. Shaking the house when I am trying to sleep. Only when I woke up (and found my books fallen from their shelves) did I realize that no human could have shaken the house that much.
I got to run in the “Hiroshima Kokusai Heiwa Marason” (International Peace (5k) Marathon) on Culture Day, November 3rd. Shisho had its grand Bunkasai (culture festival) that day as well. On the 2nd and 4th I got to see the student’s displays. The classrooms were set up like galleries, each room a different project. Some of the rooms were shoudou (calligraphy), pottery, cartography, and several art rooms.
One art class was assaigned to reproduce several logos from popular companies and stores. My art class’ reproductions were of photographs, using a manual screenprinting method. This entails drawing a grid on the canvas and the origional, then assaigning number (saturation) values to each square, then filling each of the canvas’ squares with the corresponding value’s correct circle size with black ink. Tedious, to say the least.
The 4th was the Bunkasai stage day. A few Hiroshima-native rock and j-pop groups played for the students, plus three bands from within the school. The energy climax seemed to be the song “Rinda Rinda!” done by one of the student groups. There was also a one act play from the drama club, the classic guitar band (~50 students) playing the Beatle’s “Life Goes On,” and a soroban demonstration.
Soroban (abacus) merges the left brain, math, with the right brain, visualization. Or so I have been told. In soroban class class I am still laborously picking my way through multiplication sets of 2 2-digit numbers. The kids on stage, however, are a different story. They are the Shisho Soroban club, champion abacus slingers, wranglers of wily digits, and amazing. Imagine knowing (seeing) the answer to 698×374 as soon as it leaves the MC’s mouth. They did several math tricks, impressing not only the gaijin in the audience.