Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Fail!!

I know, I know! It's been 4 weeks! What was I thinking? What have I been DOING?

Well, I wish I could tell you...

It's been a lot of teaching, shopping, visits out of town, and general hanging out. Also a few more festivals. It's all gone a little fuzzy in me ol' head. But I shall do my best to recap on the past month. And I promise to do much better at blogging regularly in the future. You have my solemn pledge. ::Cuts palm of hand with samurai sword::

Most recently, I attended a Halloween party! (Happy Halloween everybody!)

It's not really observed in Japan, apart from the occasional jack-o-lantern decorating a store, but all the foreigners in town plus some enthusiastic locals still got together for a big party in a club downtown. I dressed up as a hippie, but I don't think all the locals got it.

I like this one, in which the hippie is arrested by the 70's cop:

Weekend before this one I went with one of the teachers at my favorite school, Meiwa Middle, to a festival in a town called Ijuin.
Ijuin is pretty close to Kagoshima, but it has a much more naturey feel to it that I loved! 6 of my students participated in the kyudo (Japanese style archery) tournament. While they may have lost, they sure looked good doing it. Which is what matters, anyway.

The festival grounds were actually a really old shrine tucked in some mountains. The surrounding trees were huge and the whole place had a mystical, magical feel to it. Especially when it started to rain softly! It was beautiful....

Apart from archery, there were also kendo and sumo competitions. I didn't expect to enjoy the sumo as much as I did, but it was very exciting!
Be warned: the follow video contains images of the male posterior. (Who are we kidding- you love it!!)

Fun Fact: The sumo wrestlers in the video are only high schoolers. I can only imagine how intense pro-Sumo wrestling must be. There were also "middle school and under" competitions happening that day. It's crazy, how many young boys work hard and train to be allowed to wear the coveted sumo wrestler thong.

There were also cool ceremonies happening in the shrine itself. Some young boys were being initiated as samurai! Or something like that. They really were dressed up in samurai armor and the priest chanted and sang and waved a pompom type thing over them. I wish I could explain the meaning, but I can't. So here are some pictures. Enjoy the mystery.

There were also a bunch of stands with games and food and souveniers. I lost a game in which the prize is goldfish, but the guy decided to be nice and gave me a black one and orange one to take home. I named them after important figures in Japanese culture: Naruto and Pikachu, respectively.
Unfortunately, I was not able to keep them alive very long. I think the Ph of their water was not optimal :-/. Naruto died on Wednesday and Pikachu died on Thursday.
I was really sad when Naruto died. As for Pikachu...I had been...dismayed by him, so it was only a slight sadness. (Pikachu had viciously taken bites of Naruto as Naruto was dying on Wednesday! I had to put Naruto into a fruit bowl so that he could finish dying in peace).
I have been contemplating buying a rabbit or marmot as a pet. I think I do better with furry pets as opposed to...scaly wet ones.

Earlier this month I:

1) bought a couch and other misc. items for my apartment and am currently looking for a not-too-expensive coffee table! Here are some pictures of my sweet pad:

This is the view from the balcony at the entrance of the apartment! The volcano you can spot between buildings is called Sakurajima. That means "cherry blossom island."

2) Witnessed a mini-festival down the streets of a shopping district.

I think it's a sort of rehearsal for the big festival happening in my city in November. It's called Ohara Festival and I think traditionally it has to do with cleansing and renewing. This is a big deal sort of festival, apparently. They've been advertising it with these crazy loud trams that run all over the city at all hours of the day:
The reason the mini festival was so important is that there were merchants selling lots of interesting things, of which the most interesting were....OCARINASSS!
That's right. I'm pretty much the next Link. I bought the one that looked the most like the famous Ocarina of Time. It's a little lame that it has a dolphin painted on, but no matter! I'ma learn all the songs from Zelda and win the Princess's heart!

3) Visited my friend, Nick, in Sendai.
Sendai is a small city about an hour north of Kagoshima. It's very beautiful and nestled between two big rivers. We made many delicious and unique pancakes, such as caramel apple and marshmallow coffee chocolate. We then visited a shrine and hiked along the bigger river. 'Twas a fun and gastronomically adventurous time!

Pant, pant. This is the longest post of my life!!
But to conclude, some things around my schools and town that I've particularly enjoyed. I hope you do too!
In this worksheet, students made sentences using the sentence structure "It is ~ for ~ to ~." Example: "It is easy for Mark to be loud."
Most students stuck to boiler-plate answers like, "It is easy for Akira to play soccer." The student who turned in the worksheet in the picture has written, "It is easy for Zushi to make girlfriend" and "It is easy for me to understand love."
AWWWWW!! He gets an A++.
Have I mentioned how much they love Obama here? They really love Obama here. In the picture above, we see that President Obama is joyfully and proudly driving the class bus to excellence!

The slogan "Yes, We Can" is absolutely everywhere....

Yep. The only person giving Obama any competition is Colonel Santa Clause.

Or Captain Santa (Santa as
baseball player) or Pirate Santa (self-explanatory). I wish I had pictures of the other Santa variations I've seen, but you'll just have to imagine those for yourselves. Sigh. Talk about making Christmas commercial. But I guess it makes some sense, seeing as how this is one of the least Christian countries....
Is this where our increasingly-secularized American society is headed???
All you readers who still live in the States- you must save Christmas!

Go! Go! Go!