Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tanabata and Strawberry Camp

I spent the weekend in Pippu (the next town over), being genki and teaching English. Sunday was the Tanabata Matsuri (star-crossed lovers festival). The festival involves strange Japanese "sports" like team jump rope and "throwing bean bags into a bird cage atop a very long pole". So me and Team Assistant English Teachers (AET) did our best, but were no match for the natives, who apparently practice these sports. One of the Japanese guys from a town famous for this beanbag tossing game tried to give us pointers, but we still came last place in everything. Nevertheless, it was a fun festival. The remainder of the events were eating yakiniku (bbq meat on a stick) and mochi, drinking beer (to drown our shame at losing) and of course, singing karaoke in the talent competition.

Monday and Tuesday were Strawberry Camp. Thirteen kids from grades five to seven and four AETs. We spent the weekend doing fun games, that tended to involve English, and generally just hanging out with the kids. We also did a play on Tuesday. "The great Japanese Radish". You know, the one where the farmer finds a huge turnip, and needs the help of everyone (in our case, animals) to pull it out.

The kids were great, and I was exhausted by the end of it. So much so that I managed to leave my purse with house and car keys in Pippu-cho. The office rents the building to me, so they had a master key, but I definitely feel stupid. We had to drive back today to pick them up.

Today was all about errands. I finally got my gaijin card, so I can do all those fun things like set up a bank account, and get a cell phone. Of course, the cell phone won't be in for a few days, and the first bank account I opened didn't allow direct deposit from my employer, the town, but after running around all day with my ever patient super-supervisor, I think we got everything done. Maybe.

I'm definitely getting busier. School starts next week already, so I'm starting to worry about teaching my introduction lesson. This evening I helped my shodo/Japanese teacher with an English conversation class, and tomorrow I'm going to Asahikawa with her to pick up calligraphy supplies. And in the evening, I've been invited to the Rotary club dinner. One of their members, Watanabe-san, is an incredibly nice guy who speaks great English. He dropped a huge bag of vegetables on my doorstep this afternoon.

Now all I need to do is hunt down the kendo teacher!

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