As I wrote in my previous post, mono no aware is such an important part of Japanese culture. It’s only been a few days since the blossoms were in full bloom and they are already beginning to pool at my feet. The petals flutter around like snow flurries and coat the ground in a fine dusting of white and pink. It’s almost heartbreaking that something so beautiful is so brief, but then again, that’s all part of it. It really drives home this idea of appreciating the now. It’s not something to be sad about, but something to cherish. I was lucky enough to enjoy the cherry blossoms and really learn to appreciate them. Now, I can look for other amazing things to celebrate about life, here and now.
Last week was the first full week of school. Towards the end, one might think I was actually a rock star, come to live in Japan. During cleaning time, I would walk around the halls, looking for ways to help, and students would shout my name from the windows of upper balconies. They are so excited to see me and talk to me in English! At least I know I am doing something right! I eat lunch with them, but they are often shy and don’t speak much. That’s fine, I don’t fear silence as much as I once did. Now, I just sit quietly and wait for them to forget I am there. That normally leads to an opening in the conversations where I can jump in.
Overall, the kids are great. I was told the second years (二年生) are the difficult ones, but so far, I’ve really enjoyed them. Maybe I like a bit of a challenge, or maybe I’m difficult myself. Either way, we get along pretty well. Granted, that was only the first week. I switched to another school for this week. My schedule has me flipping back and forth each week. The atmosphere at my other school is very different. It’s calmer, and the teachers are younger. I think I will like it hear too, for different reasons. The children are slightly better behaved, and I even have the pleasure of teaching a girl who speaks fluent English. Obviously, she won’t need my help, but I hope I can pick her brain soon, so I can learn more about what the kids really like outside of school. Also, I’d like to know if the other kids are enjoying the lessons.
Saturday was a very laid-back day. I did a ton of shopping and played too much Mass Effect 3. Luckily, I am figuring out the cheaper places to shop in Koga, and I was able to save a ton of money this time. I even went to a second-hand bookstore where I got a Japanese-English Dictionary, 5 mangas, and Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, all for 2,000yen! That’s about $24. Of course, the books are all in Japanese, but they have the furigana (tiny hirigana above the kanji) so I can read it. I just have to keep a dictionary handy.
Sunday, Carolyn and I took a drive to Utsunomiya, where the cherry blossoms are still at their peak. We joined a very large group of foreigners and celebrated the cherry blossoms with drinks and snacks. Of course, as the driver, I couldn’t drink, but I definitely ate my fair share of snacks. My favorite one (and the strangest) was the corn potage puffs. It tastes like corn chowder in a chip/puff form. It’s good, but weird. Once again, I made lots of friends and was reminded of how lucky I am. Utsunomiya park sits on a big hill, where every spring, it fills with people, food vendors and (of course) cherry blossoms. We didn’t stay long, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves. Whenever Carolyn and I go on a long drive we play a game. We each pick a store or entertainment place, and count how many we pass along the way. This time it was ramen shops and udon. Final tally: ramen- 23, udon-5. Aw, poor udon.
Well, it’s back to video games and laundry for me, I’ll see you soon!