Wednesday, November 30, 2005

忙しい週 (a busy week)

Sorry for the lag in posting. I haven't died, or gotten sick (homesick or otherwise). I just got busy!

So what have I been doing all week? Well, last Wednesday was a holiday for "Labour Thanksgiving Day". It was explained to me as a day to be thankful for doing work. Celebrating with a day off seems a bit counter-intuitive to me, but I'm not Japanese. I enjoyed a lazy morning, puctuated by a visit from the NHK man.

For those of you not living in Japan, a visit from the NHK man is not a happy event. NHK is the national television station, and the programming is terrible. I enjoy the children's shows, but even those are done on shoestring budgets, with sets that look like cast-off's from the BBC. Like Dr. Who, only less endearing. And the same two-dozen personalities are on every variety show. Everyone in Japan who recieves the NHK signal is required to pay an exorbitant sum of money for the priviledge. Many foreigners living in Japan try to get out of paying the fees, but many Japanese people do too. It was recently revealed how much of the money Japanese residents pay for NHK was going into the pockets of various officials instead of into quality programming. At any rate, I spent nearly an hour at the door with the NHK man, trying to convince him that it would be too difficult to get me to understand what he was saying, and that he should leave me alone. I ended up paying about $30 for two months of television service. It wouldn't have bothered me so much if I hadn't been on my way out to meet a friend for an afternoon of shopping and dinner in Asahikawa.

Thursday, I made my way to Sounkyo in a raging blizzard to teach (don't worry mom, I take the bus there -- I just have to walk up to the school). My office-mates were teasing me before I left about how terrible the weather in Sounkyo would be. I think they felt kind of bad when it was actually pretty bad.

Friday I taught in four classes at the Junior High School. This would usually be okay, if I had gotten enough sleep! Phone calls until three in the morning may seem like a good idea at the time, but...

Not much relaxing time over the weekend either. Musical rehearsal in Shimizu! Only about a three hour drive (which my JTE infoms me is a *very* long drive), and we only got lost once! It was a really good rehearsal. We got a lot of stuff done, and even made time for bathing and the new Harry Potter movie!

Monday was teaching at the high school, and trying to figure out what to teach about Canadian culture for 90 minutes. I did a conversation class too, with a new JTE and a new student. I haven't taught any classes with the new teacher yet, but she definitely isn't as genki as Morimoto sensei.

Tuesday was a whole two classes to teach myself (that's another post), and today I taught three grades at the Elementary school.

I just finished a really good shodou lesson. Mayumi-sensei showed me how to write Japanese New Year's Greetings (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu あけましておめでとうございます).
People send New Year's postcards, and if you post them before a certain day, they actually deliver them on New Year's Day. She showed me a really beautiful technique. It looks like the difference between printing and handwriting. The letters are in a continuous line, and really beautiful. However, I do think that if I didn't know what it was supposed to be I would only see a squiggly line. And if I didn't read hiragana, I'd feel that even more so. You can be the judge if you get a Christmas card from me.

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