23 days until Taiwan
48 days until New York
I am meeting manycardigans the first week of April which is funny because we’re both Americans who almost met in New York and now both live in Japan but will meet for the first time in Taiwan.
I’m really excited for this. It’s weird how people from the same area end up meeting half way across the world by chance.
At the end of the school year before graduation, the 6th graders in elementary school throw their teachers an appreciation party to thank them for their hard work and reminisce about the time spent together. Teachers get shuffled in and out every April but some of the teachers have been with the kids for years, know them well, and (in the case of my smallest rural school) are like a family. I spent last Friday at my first one and it was a kyuushoku buffet (so.much.saba) and the 6th graders performed a few songs and threw in some quiz questions. It was sweet and it just reminded me how different the teacher-student relationships here are. I had a few teachers who I’d talk to after school and who I really liked, but my classes changed every grade, it didn’t feel like a family. Maybe in smaller schools it’s different but from what I experienced growing up in Queens and Long Island, my elementary school experience seems so different from what my students had as they move on to junior high next month.
The best part of this though (besides the saba) was the fact that we played hide and seek throughout the school. All my time playing man hunt up until high school paid off and thanks to a giant map and a window curtain, I was the only one no one could find. Next came tag in the gym and I made the poor choice of openly challenging the fastest girl in 6th grade. As soon as someone yelled ‘go’ she came after me and got me. I got revenge the next round. I’m still trying to remember as many names as possible but I like knowing that I’ll see them at the junior high. I’ll be familiar to them and they’ll be recognizable to me.
It’s been a very long week and I’ve barely found a chance to relax. The cold in Fukushima continues but there are times where the sun is so strong and it’s so warm that I feel like I don’t need a coat. I can feel spring is on its way in and each day that passes, more and more snow melts, the days feel longer and my mood keeps improving. I heard that winter in Fukushima is miserable unless you’re a fan of skiing and snowboarding (which I’m not after my bad experience that was straight out of that scene in Bridget Jones’ Diary 2). I spent my winter (and am still spending the remainder of it) under my kotatsu, doing Japanese crossword puzzles, and eating ochazuke. January and February were rough both on my emotions and my weight. Homesickness coupled with Stage two means eating more white rice than is good for me and wishing I was back in New York, land of chicken broth and bagels. My size has never been a problem for me and walk so much that my metabolism is pretty fast. With all the snow we’ve had though along with dry, cold air, I’ve been inside a lot more than I’d like and as a result, I don’t feel as good as I should. I’m hoping that with more warmer weather, I can start going for morning walks again. I feel heavy, I feel worn out and I don’t like it. My friend drives me through the back roads on the way to tea ceremony lessons and they’re quiet enough to go bike riding. In my spare time, I won’t have an excuse not to be proactive about this.
Last week was a blur of late nigh night translating to get myself ready for a presentation and speech in Japanese. I don’t have a problem speaking in front of people, I’ve done it before but all those times have been in English. I shouldn’t have been nervous since it was over lunch and nothing formal but I was. I like writing, I think I’m pretty decent at it and my Japanese is good enough where the job of translating it wasn’t a nightmare but still, I was so nervous. I don’t remember a lot of it, it all happened really fast and before I knew it, I was done and could go back to eating my chicken and rice. I think it went alright but I was glad for it to be over. They men there were kind enough to give me a fan that’s used during tea ceremonies which is perfect for my lessons. It had the flowers of the month written on it.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around window shopping but in the end I stopped by a tea shop to pick up matcha to practice with at home. I want to get the motions right for making the tea and I like the bitter taste of the tea.
It’s called Hatsu-mukashi and it’s the basic kind, not too expensive. I need to get the proper tools to sift the tea so I can’t open it just yet but I’m excited to taste it.