Letters From Japan: Part Next

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Hey y'all.  (I have a southern accent when i'm embarrassed).  I'm been very busy .  Busy busy busy.  So here are a few excerpts from writings in 2003 when i was away in japan teaching english to elementary and middle school kids.  hope you enjoy.

Recent adventures.
Ok--Im starting with the most frivolous because Im so psyched about it.  Up here in japan--where I am--its ski country. There are those that ski and those that don’t live here.  And last week I bought not one but 2 pairs of skis.  Ok--so one was only 40 bucks and used (for rock skis til the snow gets good) but the other pair----mmmmmmmm-- LOVE THEM.  Im so happy that I finally got off my somewhat nerotic ass and made a purchase.  This recent acquisition has led me to fits of almost comatose-like starring at the clouds begging them to deliver their white nectar upon me.  Along with this purchase I also acquire . . .. . . BEDDING.  im officially out of the sleeping bag and into the sheets and acomforter.  Only took me a month and a half --go matt go. 

But now sad news--at the time of my first email I believe you were introduced to my car---Carrdvark.  The Honda civic shuttle that looked like an aardvark and made pokeman like sounds.  Well--One month in and an inspection later and I receive this CLASSIC email from the mechanic (and the guy I bought it from): “Please no more driving the car. the case will be a serious accident in the future.  The steering, braking and suspension system are important.”  awesome email --simple awesome--so caardvark is dead and im tooling around in a loaner Toyota tercel which im not naming because I will hopefully soon have a new car. And then ill tell you all about it. Cars--cyclical--like a circle --they go around.


ok--where to begin.  Ahh yes--school lunch --the best place of all.  Now first off school lunch is the most randomly priced thing ever.  Today it was 233 yen (about 2 dollars) . usually its thereabouts but NEVER NEVER a round number. 256, 301,  273--I just don’t get it.  Today for lunch I had Chinese dumplings with kim chi and testicle soup.  Oops.  Did I say testicle soup--I mean THREE testicle soup.  I would love to give you all the witty punch line where I tell you what the testi sized balls in my soup were . .  (editors note: since then I have surmised these were quail eggs). . But even in front of a captive 4th grade audience there wasn’t no way that shit was going into my mouth.  Im all for international understanding, but I had to take a firm george bush like stand on that one (theres my political commentary for this email).

Tomorrow is the English speech contest. Students from every middle school around here send representatives to give speechs (7 and 8th graders read the ones from a book--9th graders write their own) and I, yes, me, gets to be the lucky judge---whoooooopie.  That means over the past month each individual school has tried to find ways to make me judge their individual school speeches -pick my favorite kid et al., give themselves a leg up --  this contest has more corruption than the mob.  Its nutty and funny and sad and im in the direct center of it.  Wish me luck.

A bit about the education down hear.  The kids bow before every class--I like that bit--and after that its a crap shoot.  Generally I think the biggest variable is the homeroom teacher--ESPECIALLY in elementary school.  Ive had classes where the kid were SOOOOOO excited to learn English and participated and were genki (energetic) and generally speaking, their teacher is also interested in English.  Ive also had classes that were totally asleep.--usually their teacher can be found correcting papers in the back of the room not giving a shit. And worst of all the teachers who exert no authority over there kids--those kids run rampant and punch (especially in the private areas) and do the "kancho" (this is totally true) where they put their hands together like there was a pretend gun and try to jam their fingers up your butt.  I have learned to grow eyes in the back of my head--they always told us that school was a prison--they didn't know how right they were.  I had one such class like this on Monday--ive never wanted to start swinging away at kids more in my life--these 2nd graders hit me continuously for 40 mins and their 50 some year old teacher just sat there ineffectually trying to get a little quiet which never came--they totally didn't respect her and took it out on me.  I only escaped after class by enlisting some 6th graders to round up the 2nd graders that wouldn't stop pummeling me and throw them out of the room--they saved me (and they didn't seem to mind throwing the little kids around either).  I felt like a mob boss--I liked it .  ps --after that class I seriously weighed the merits of smoking cigarettes.  Which many of the teachers do by the way--in front of the students even.  And apparently Gunma is better than most places.

Many have also asked for an update on the toilet situation.  Well--ive got the whole squatting thing DOWN--sadly--but the new challenge is wiping.  In that position its almost impossible to wipe front to back, and since only one male I know wipes back to front, im still left figuring it out.  It also puzzles me what woman do--maybe when my Japanese gets better I can ask people these questions--im sure they’ll love it almost as much as you guys enjoy hearing about it. 



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