Monday to Thursday. Teaching, Food and Temple.

Monday was a quiet day at school as we had no scheduled classes. Teru decided it was a good day to invite me and Blaine to lunch at his place, as a sort of introductory thing for me and a leaving thing for Blaine. Kumiko, Teru’s wife, cooked us a range of things but the most exciting part of the meal was my first experience of Japanese tuna. It doesn’t let down any expectations. It was also a good opportunity to meet Shunsuke, their almost 3 year old son. They are trying to teach him both Japanese and English, which is good for me as I can help him learn, although I will probably learn more from him. After this lovely meal we went to school to prepare for the next day as it was going to be busy for teaching. I received my business card. Teru said I can try recruit people, it made me feel very professional. When it was time to go home me and Blaine headed out to a ramen shop that Teru used to work at when he was younger. Once filled up on ramen, gyoza and beer we headed home.

Shunseke

My business card

Early on Tuesday morning we drove to Kuki Kindergarten where we would be teaching for the majority of the morning. I sat next to Shunseke as Kumiko said that he requested this. He is a very cute kid. I was a little worried about going to teach at Kuki Kindergarten as it was the first time teaching outside of Intersect. The classes are much bigger, so more eyes to watch you fuck up, and I was afraid that my lack of the Japanese language and etiquette would make it difficult to relax. We had four classes in the morning, one slightly younger group (ages 3-4) and 3 older groups (ages 4-6). To each class there was about 20-25 students. The teaching was really fun. We played silly games and had to be animated as possible. In the old groups we were teaching them opposites. Tall-short was very amusing as we got the smallest kid to stand next to me. Long-short was a bit embarrassing as I kept on screwing up and saying “small” instead of “short”. After each class we would get them to thank us and we would say “see you!”. This was an indicator for the kids to swamp us with high fives, start climbing up our legs and running around excitedly. Blaine got his last farewell punch to the balls.

After the morning classes were treated with a cute little Bento box for lunch, which I was told will happen every time we go to Kuki Kindergarten and this pleased me very much. Once this was polished off Teru took me to get my “Hanko”, a personalized stamp that you use in the same way as signature. Mine has Luke written in katakana. When I was finished marveling over my new toy we went back to Kuki Kindergarten as Kumiko had prepared a visit inside the temple situated basically on the kindergarten grounds. This was possible as  Kumiko’s mother runs the kindergarten and her father runs the temple. Teru was explaining that we are lucky as not many people get to go inside the temple and see it in the way we did.

My Hanko

Once inside the temple we were met by Kumiko’s brother in law who is the monk at this temple. He had completed training in a temple in Tokyo for two years. In this time he wasn’t allowed to leave  and wasn’t allowed any contact with the outside world. This training was in preparation to take over the Kuki temple after Kumiko’s father. Kumiko explained that the Kuki temple had been in their family 22 generations. We were shown some statues of the previous temple owners. The statue of the very first owner, made from porcelain, was around 500 years old. We also had the opportunity to be taught how to make “zen”. This is the mediation position that monks sit in for hours. You have to sit cross legged (with the right foot over the left foot) with your feet above your knees so that the soles of your feet point upwards. You then place the back of your left hand over the right, again so your palms face upwards, and make a circle shape with your thumbs. The tour was finished with some traditional green tea.

Almost time for green tea

Inside the temple

We returned next door to the kindergarten to teach the afternoon classes. These were made up of children for the morning, but only those having extra English tuition. There were only two classes, an older and a younger group both made up of 4 children. Again they were a lot of fun and loved trying to high five me as high as possible. This concluded the classes at Kuki Kindergarten for the day so we returned, back to Kazo, to the school. The lessons back at the school included Sachiko, an adult student who was quite bashful about speaking despite being quite good, two groups of younger children (around 5-7, I think?) that were a little quiet, Haruna, a high school girl aged 14, and two more adult students, Yumi and Michiko (who is Teru’s aunt). This was a very long day of teaching as we started at 9 am and finished at 9pm. As a result Blaine and I decided to get some beers and food out. Blaine recommended a Taiwanese restaurant that boasts large portions for a cheap price. This was no word of a lie. For around ¥700 I got a big bowl of ramen, a bowl of rice, tofu curry, fried chicken, soup, salad, ginger bits and a desert. The ramen on its own would have sufficed. After finishing as much as I could we proceeded to go home. Outside was some vicious thunder and lightning. This brought on the conversation of adverse weather conditions in Japan. Seconds later after I brought up this topic it started to rain, monsoon style. When we got home we were both completely soaked through, shoes and everything.

The next day I met Teru at the city hall before classes started. Here I had to fill out some documents and receive a residence card. After a fairly non-stressful stretch of bureaucracy I officially became a Japanese citizen. The first of this days teaching was again to be done outside of school, at Fudoka preschool, which was run by Michiko who we taught the night before. This lesson was really fun. The children had to guess my age. They started guessing at 29, which then rose steadily to 45!. After this class Michiko made tea (including english tea) and snacks. We then went back to school to carry on with lessons. These included some high school boys, around 13-14, who were interested in if I was gay or not and which type of girls I liked, and some younger boys, around 8 or 9.

On Thursday morning I first went to used electronics store as I wanted to see if they had any cheap computers I could use as Blaine leaves the next day and his computer has been my life line. This shop was amazing, I has almost anything you could think of. Synthesizers and guitar pedals to games consoles and vinyls. I managed to pick up a laptop for around ¥8000. It was cheap but it is all in Japanese so it is pretty impossible to use. I haven’t made it do much yet. I will get Teru to help me. After spending time faffing with the computer I got ready and went to school for the last lessons with Blaine helping me. These all went fine. Some kids asked some pretty obscure questions like “what is your favourite number?”, which took me quite a long time to answer. Tomorrow Blaine goes home, although it is a day off and I can relax a little, the next day I will have to teach on my own without knowing much Japanese at all.

Classroom B

Classroom A

Inside Intersect SFL

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