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Friday, November 11, 2005
I completely forgot these pictures in my last post. Chronologically they would go before the pictures of the kids. Oh well.

I've started taking my camera with me to school, and a nice thing I've found is that as the sun rises later and later, I am out on my scooter soon after the sunrise. Last week it was cold and humid in the mornings, with a thick mist over everything. I actually forgot my camera on the best day, when clouds were sitting on the road.

Either way, This is a little shortcut I take through a bunch of rice paddies on the way to one of my schools. It was about 7:40 in the morning, and it was beautiful.

That guy on the scooter is basically me. That's where I go.

Another Day, Another Bazillion Yen

Thursday, November 10, 2005
Life has been continuing without much excitement here, I work every day, come home, watch a show or movie, make dinner, then some nights I've got Japanese classes, adult English conversation classes, or some other evening event, but that's been about it this past week. My days at school were pretty interesting this week, so at least I've got something.

On Tuesday afternoon, Nakano Elementary School (sho-gakko) had a "Poster Session" - basically the fifth graders all make posters on a variety of topics, from traditional Japanese clothing to video games, and then they present them. I was part of the international group who was presented to, the other members were Megan, and three kids from the Maritime university on the island from Malaysia and the Philippines. I didn't understand much of the presentations (they were all in Japanese) but it was fun and an easy way to spend an afternoon. After the presentations, everyone got to go outside and play for an hour.

This kid latched on to me for the whole day. I don't know why, I don't think he's ever looked at me twice during my other days at Nakano. As soon as the camera goes up, so do the two fingers. It's automatic here.

This girl had an awesome presentation. She talked about the Soroban, a Japanese abacus. At the end of the demonstration, she had someone call out a difficult math problem (three digit number times a two digit number) and she solved it in a few seconds. Also, she has incredibly widely spaced eyes, which makes me think she probably has great depth perception. She should be a race car driver.

There's something about this picture I like.

The same kid again. He is telling me that things are "ok." That's the hand signal for ok here. I've seen it a lot. Pretty universal.

I was walking back to the school building when I noticed they were playing some game that looked basically like a bunch of kids had died on the playing field.

The Japanese squat. I can't do it, Japanese people are as comfortable as can be. Try it. Both feet flat, knees up, leaning forward, and then do some farming or something on the ground in front of you. It's hard.

Later in the week, I had a slow morning at Nishino Elementary. I grabbed the camera and took some pictures.

My desk in the teacher's room.

The ubiquitous guest slipper shelves. The slippers are always the same, although sometimes they are blue. They are all the same size, which is about two thirds the length of my foot.

The principal's office, with all the portraits of past principals, dating to who knows when. At Nakano, they go back 130 years. I'm a little nervous about posting this picture because the principal at Nishino has the address for this blog and doesn't know I took this picture.

Yesterday at Osaki Junior High (chu-gakko) we had a fun day. The school is being demolished in a few years, so the principal wanted to have a day where all the students make drawings of the school. Just when I go thinking that Japanese education is not so great, all drills and memorization and no creativity, they go and do this, which I enjoyed. They also are pretty serious when they schedule this stuff out, we drew from 8:30 in the morning until 2:40.

The kids, drawing in their awesome light blue tracksuits.

The school. Why does it have a submarine conning tower on it? I don't know.

My drawing. I gave it to the principal, so this is the only copy. Felt good to do some art again.

Two other minor yet crucial things.

1. Operation Kill A Lot Of Cockroaches In A Gruesome Manner has begun.

This one just got squashed. The next morning though, it looked like a cockroach had walked into my room and exploded. The score so far is Neko: 2 Cockroaches: 0.

Also, as mentioned last time, I am a Japanese TV star.

1. These potato chips are amazing!
2. The morning show gets on a boat.
3. Who is that over there?
4. Looks like Mori!

5. And Ben!
6. He's a junior high English teacher (that's what the subtitles say).
7. New York City, baby.
8. And off we go.

Yeah, I have a tape. It's awesome.