The beginning of Sunday met me again with another Japanese lesson, the last of the month so next week I can treat myself with a lie in. My normal teacher was absent meaning that I was taught by the teacher I had briefly last week. She avoided teaching by the book and seemed more interested in me as she saw the tattoo on my arm, rather than trying to teach me things. Although I made some progress in writing in Japanese as she got me to translate sentences from English and write them in hirigana. Also for once, I was not the only white person in the class, there was a fellow Englishman. I talked to him after class and he said that he has been living in Japan for 6 months with his Japanese wife, doing freelancing teaching. Although he seemed a bit pissed off with everything as he said that he had not made much progress in learning Japanese or in his rogue teaching.
After class Teru picked me up to go to the Kuki shimin (市民) festival, shimin meaning citizen, so basically a festival for all the towns people put on by all the towns people. We met Shunsuke and Komiko there and started to wander around. The festival consisted of a couple of stages, lots of food stands and various other sources of entertainment, such as a working model shinkansen (bullet train) that people could ride. There was a range of traditional acts performing on the stages, such as Japanese dancing, mostly made up of groups of elderly women, and drumming. Although there was also more modern western influenced acts, such as groups of young girls dancing provocatively to hip hop and rap, which just seemed a bit wrong to me, but in hindsight the kids were too young to understand and it was most likely the case that most people watching could not speak English so the dirty lyrics washed right over them. What interested me most was the abundance of different food stands not only selling every Japanese food that you could think of but food from all round the world. I witnessed, among others things, fresh soba noodles being made. First the dough was rolled extra thin, then folded over and over until it was something that resembled puff pasty. The man then thinly sliced the dough up and with a quick shake it turned into a bundle of noodles, which I thought was pretty impressive. After walking around for a while a precession of several mikoshi (a kind of portable shrine) started, which children took part in holding. Shunsuke wanted to take part in the carrying, however the whole procession took a long time and he started to get really tired not long through and he had to duck out and pass out in the car.
The beginning of week back at work consisted of mainly of the normal routine, apart from preparations for the Halloween parties that the school is holding. On Monday I taught Sachiko, the middle aged private student, and confused her with “such as” and made her think that “toast” was simply the word for sliced bread. Tuesday was another obscenely long day as we had Kuki Kindergarten morning classes again, and this week we were held up for a while because a police demonstration was taking place showing the kids how to cross the road properly, letting them have pictures with the police car and things like that. It was quite nostalgic as I remembered having that sort of thing at school. Later in the evening, one of the junior high students fell asleep in class which did not help me feel any less tired. After that long day was over I went out and treated myself to some garlic ramen. On Wednesday, we got ready for the first Halloween party for the students at Fudoka preschool. Although when we got there we were told that 10 students were absent so we were forced to save it for next week and had to make up a lesson on the spot. Machiko, the owner of the school, Teru’s aunt and an Intersect student, gave me a chart of the hirigana and katakana alphabets copied from one of the children’s Japanese texts books, which has cute pictures of something that begins with each of the characters, it made me feel like I was 4 again. In the junior high class in the evening we got talking about pokemon, which got them really interested and they got me to draw some on demand as they found it hilarious. I think they were quite surprised I knew about pokemon at all. How little they knew.
As the Halloween party at Fudoka got postponed until next week, the first one was on Thursday afternoon for the Kuki Kindergarten extra-curricular kids. Teru dressed up as Dracula and, out of what I found in the cupboard at Intersect, I dressed up as a pirate. The party was a mixture of arts and crafts and games. We got the children to make a picture by gluing bits of card shaped like ghosts and pumpkins to a black background. This ended up taking for ever as we did not account for children spilling glue everywhere and getting more of it on them than the card. We ended the party by giving all the children a goody bag after they each said “trick or treat” to me.