Thursday, April 19, 2007

what, again?

Another weekend, another musical rehearsal.
Didn't I just do this? Yup.
Ugh. I'm tired of driving all over Hokkaido. Do I have to go?

Monday, April 16, 2007

namara omoshiroi

Well, the school year has begun again here.

New students, new teachers, new colleagues. And at my high school, a new principal. Today was my first day for the year at high school (the first of only seven official visits I might add), so the other ALT and myself were brought to his office to introduce ourselves. It was an interesting experience for me. I haven't done this kind of thing since I first moved to Japan and couldn't understand a word of Japanese, or even what we were doing sitting in some random office meeting some random person. So this time around, I knew what was going on. What I hadn't done was these kind of introductions with another ALT. Especially not with an ALT of the male persuasion.

So, the idea is to go in and meet the head of whatever instution you're visiting. You introduce yourself and chat a little bit, maybe over tea and then leave. When I moved here, I met the mayor, the vice-mayor because the mayor wasn't available the first time I went, principals at three or four schools, and the superintendent of schools. The head doesn't have many more responsibilities other than greeting guests, handing out certificates, speaking at ceremonies and acting as the figurehead (incidentally, I've had a lot of really good talks with the new principal at the junior high because he usually has even less to do than I do).
That part all went well, but it was interesting to see the change in dynamics that bringing in a another ALT created. Although my Japanese is better than the other ALT, the principal was much more interested in talking to him than to me. As in he only spoke to him once we had finshed our pleasantaries. It may have been because I am too straightforward in Japanese, or maybe it was because I introduced myself as the town ALT (there are a lot of bizarre politics going on, and my presence is not necessarily welcome because I work for a different board of education). It may also have been because the other ALT shares an interest in geography with the guy. It may just have been that I'm used to being fawned over as the only ALT at the school. But coming out of the meeting, the overwhelming feeling I got was that it was because I was a woman.
Is that a fair judgement? Probably not. But being a western woman living in Japan makes for a vastly different experience than being here as a man. Which is true of anywhere. But here, there are experiences that my male friends have had that I will never be privy to. And I'm not just talking about the ease of picking up Japanese girls... Although western women are treated differently from Japanese women, there are times when I am definitely treated as a lower class of person. And it's not something I like.
Bah. I think I'm reading too much into things. Must be the crappy weather getting me down. Stupid never ending winter.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Musical Montage

Hamanaka-cho Rehearsal April 7—8, 2007

Cue Music: ζ‘œγ‚“γΌγ†

Our protagonist finishes work.
Walks home to get ready to go out again.
Clothes are changed, bags are thrown together.
Set out on foot for a local restaurant.
Meet up with the office for a farewell/welcome party.
Eating, drinking, talking, spilling drinks.
Her ride meets her near the restaurant.
They pick up a box of papers at her office.
Stop at her house to get her bags – finish packing first!
Drive through the mountains.
Meet the next leg of the carpool in a parking lot.
Follow their clown car to the driver’s house.
Meet the final member of the carpool.
Arrange people and stuff in the car – multiple trips back into the house/trunk/backseat.
On the road!
The backseat shares a bottle of wine.
Stop at a conbini for a pee and snack break.
Make some new friends from Tokyo – pictures and introductions outside the conbini.
Stop at an outside onsen on the lake.
Back on the road.
As the sun is rising, the car reaches the ocean.
Stop at the beach to watch the sunrise.
Lost in Kiritappu – where is the kominkan??
Make a phone call to find out, and discover it is directly in front of them.
Morning preview of the big show for the people in town.
More rehearsal.
Light sticks are produced, karaoke attempted.
Drinking and fun until everyone goes to.
Morning ride to the conbini for breakfast.
Run through.
Finish up – notes, cleaning and packing up.
Back in the car.
Driving in Nemuro – signs are in Russian, telling the Russians they aren’t so welcome.
Lunch at a ramen shop. More making friends.
Stop at a conbini in Shari, decide to make it to Abashiri.
Drive some more to Tanno.
Parting of the ways.
More driving, this time through the mountains.
Meet a cop car, and have to drive slow.
Cop car pulls over, top speed again!
Finally make it home.
Pass out in bed.

Estimated time from my home to the rehearsal: 6 hours one way.
Total time in a car with four other people: 20 hours
Time spent sleeping: 10 hours
Number of conbinis stopped at in transit: 4
Number of new friends who live in Tokyo: 2
Hours spent listening to a CBC Radio podcast: 2
Hours spent discussing the contents of the podcast: numerous
Amount of alcohol drunk on Friday night: 2 bottles of wine, one bottle of gin
Number of people in the car: 5
Time spent rehearsing: 10 hours
Number of completed runs: 0