I guess I’m a little late for January’s post, so i’ll combine January and February for you guys!
Well January was filled with enkais and events in Japan, like New Years celebrations and opening ceremonies. When I got back to Iki, I took a rest to recover from my cold. I went to a Japanese friends house for lunch and together we went to a Buddhist temple! It was my first time inside a buddhist temple and it was very interesting. There was a think scent of incense for all the shrines they kept for the deceased and many kanji written charms were hung around the room. I was a little shy, but interested all the same. I also visited the fabled monkey Shrine on Odake mountain in Ashibe. They say it has over a hundred monkey statues! I did’t count them but from what I saw, I might believe it! The shrine had an observatory deck where you could see the entire stretch of Ashibe to the ocean! It was beautiful!
I started shoudo lessons with a lady who lives in Gounora. She’s super nice and I get to learn for free! Shoudo is the way of calligraphy! Lol. Its really fun and challenging. After painting a kanji for a daffodil, She got me working on some advanced kanji poem! I go on a different day than the other JETs on Iki cuz I don’t have half day fridays, so I usually practice alone with the teacher and we chat about stuff! Also saw some pretty shrines when I got back, I even went to the big one I pass on my way into Gounora every week! It was pretty chilly and there was no one around but the new was still amazing with a hot can of coffee to boot! I made some awesome Japanese dishes this month and managed to make my supervisor some homemade banana bread! Yay!! A late Christmas gift.
We had a New Years party for my main school. The enkai was at a small place somewhere I didn’t know, but the food was delicious! We had a suki yaki hotpot and they got people to drink shuchuu from a giant dish! They introduced the new teacher in for another who was going on Mat leave, and they got another teacher who was turning 60 to drink the shuchu! Then they called me up! I drank a bit and they asked what I thought… i didn’t know what to say but I’m not sure if I was offensive or just interesting, but I said it tasted like water… so they made me drink more lol. That was fun!
The beginning of classes were pretty slow to start. I had a review lesson with the third years about christmas before their tests. I gave them Ontario pins as prizes for scoring the most points on review material! It was fun. We played a jeopardy game with the lesson materials and i was surprised to see what they did and didn’t remember. I also began preparing for my first lesson at Niji no Hara, the special needs high school! I was tweaking my introduction lesson for them and added a card collecting game at the end. I felt a little bad cuz i didn’t know when the class ended and we sort of when 10 minutes into lunch… but hey, i lost those ten minutes too! Then I did this super crazy lesson at koko. It was a Toronto trip planning lesson! We wanted to use real things to help them remember the lessons, so we got posters of all the cool places to go in toronto and maps of the city and subways and got them to plan trips for me and my friends and family! I got them looking up hours of operation, admission fees and how to travel from Union station to the destination! Then I rated their performances and the winning group got stickers! After that things have slowed down a bit with the flu epidemic and class trips, tests and graduation. So I had a increased amount of time to study Japanese! I finished the beginner course ahead of schedule and got my paper certificate to say boo ya! I did it! Then I took in some books I had and began my own self study! I also joined in on a Webinar for Incoming JETs!! I figured while my memories were still fresh I should share my experiences to help those who are aspiring to come onto JET. It was really great to help out and talk to everyone! Met some cool current and past JETs and maybe some new ones! While doing the Webinar, which was just before my Sadou performance, I had this tea I got for Christmas. Its a Horoscope blooming tis that you put in a glass bowl or pot and watch bloom while you drink it! So yummy!
I also started Koto lessons! The lady I had lunch with for new years contacted a teacher in Ashibe and Rachel and I started taking lessons in January! Koto is soo fun! It like a hard that you pluck with pics on your fingers. Its on its side and have 13 strings. Its really cool and reading the music is a little challenging because its note written like traditional western music. They use the kanji for the numbers of the string and add symbols for half tones, slides, glisses and repeats. Apparently were preparing for a koto and shamisen event in December of next year! SO cool! I finished Sadou – the way of Tea, with a ceremony demonstration in Bunka hall, which I later found out was on TV from one of the ladies in our Taiko group. I ran into her at the hardware store and she said she saw me in Kimono on TV! You can imagine my face when I heard that. “What?!! I was on TV?!! Crazy!” The event was mostly a kids event that I was in on cuz of the lessons. They had ikebana displays, a taiko group and music group who made all their own instruments from bamboo! They also had the tea demonstration. The ladies dressed me up really nice in a borrowed grey kimono and they did my hair really pretty too! I remember them playing with it and commenting on the Fwua Fwua. Yes, this hair description really exists!! I think it translates to something like curly or fluffy! Lol. In Taiko, we met a teacher who’s friend was having a wedding in March. He had heard us in Ishida at the performance in December and wanted us to play the song at his friends wedding! So we started rehearsing and its been fun! Becky is also teaching us a new, very complicated song with 3 parts! Its like a dance number! We have choreography and everything and the rhythm is really interesting and catchy! I can’t wait till we perform it in June at the matsuri!
That pretty much brings us to February, and for the sake of space, I think I’ll cut it short here and post another blog about February and Hokkaido next! Also an interesting interception with a TV crew in Fukuoka while on a spa retreat weekend with some friends!! Well I’ll keep you in suspense another couple of days!