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My Web Site -- Japan


Malibu Woman by Masami Teraoka

Back to the Beginning · About Me · Resume
2001 Aug - Dec
2002 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
2003 Feb Mar Apr

(Click on images for larger view)
February 13th
Went to Sakibaru today, the heavenly chugakko by the sea. Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, we all made and exchanged Valentines. The little elementary school girls were soooo cute, drawing little yellow flowers and pink hearts on their cards. One elementary school boy drew a machine gun on his. They all had to write something in English on the card, so I put some translations up on the board for "You're nice", "I like you", "You're funny". I need to work on my chalkboard penmanship. Several of them wrote "You're fung" to one another. In the junior high class, I gave my spiel about Valentine's Day as they stared stiffly ahead like little zombies. When the teacher asked if there were any questions, one kid asked (in Japanese) "Yeah, what's the life expectancy of a chicken?". (??) Kyushoku was delectable as usual (rice, agedofu, soup). During the bus ride back home, the busdriver gave me some oranges and then when he dropped me off, waved goodbye from inside the bus.

February 18th (Windy Monday)
Today's weather was beautiful, but oh so windy. I went to Naze Chugakko (Jr. High), which is a rather old school. When the wind blows, the windows rattle like crazy. We did a listening test today, and I found myself practically yelling over the constant rattle of the windows in order to be heard clearly by the students. I get really bored during the listening tests and when I get bored, I sometimes get giddy. Toward the end of the day, I started to find one dialogue about kiwis hilariously funny. I had to really hold myself back from just exploding with giggles when I read the lines, "That's a strange bird! I've never seen one like that before. What is it?"

At lunch, the 3rd year girls gathered around me and asked me the typical questions: Do you have a boyfriend? Do you know Brittney Spears? Who do you think is the cutest boy in this class? I stalled them on the last one until the bell rang. At recess, I went out and played dodgeball with some of them. During recess, there are balls flying through the air every which way: dodgeballs, soccerballs, baseballs, volleyballs. It's a miracle no one's been killed yet. I began to get a bit paranoid standing there, feeling like my head was just an open target for some wayward airborne ball. I sucked at dodgeball and I think the girls were at once amused at me and sorry for me, as if I were their poor retarded cousin. They were very polite. I was always the last one that they tried to get out.

February 20th (Love is in the Air)
February really is the month of love. I received a declaration of love today from a 3rd-year student (about 15 years old) at Kaneku Junior High School. All the students in the class had to stand up and ask me a question in English. One little guy stood up and said, "I love you. Do you like me?" He seemed really sincere, too. Another guy in the class just stared constantly at my chest area for the entire lesson. At first I thought maybe I was missing a button or something. I sorta glanced down, but nothing. He was just more interested in my boobs than English, apparently. I was teaching with Ms. Kuenaka, a tall (unusual for Japanese) and very elegant-looking woman from Kyoto. We all sang "We Are the World" together in class along with a tape of the actual song. Everybody became a bit confused when Bob Dylan sang his part. I smiled and said, "he he, Bob Dylan". Ms. Kuenaka just gave me a blank stare.

Yesterday, I thought that my camera was fixed. For about 2 hours, it was working fine. I thought that the camera fairies had visited me during the night and magically restored its inner mechanical workings. But, alas, I was mistaken. The f***ing thing is still f***ing broken. However, I did manage to get a couple of shots before losing all hope once again. They're kinda blurry, but here they are anyway.

I took this shot of the city from atop Ogamiyama, a hill here in town that I frequent. I live somewhere in the middle of all that concrete. Cherry trees on Ogamiyama. The cherry blossoms on Amami are much darker than in other parts of Japan.

February 22nd (FFF)
It's been a long week. The weekend is finally (almost) here. I'm sitting here in the office, trying to stifle a gaffaw at the recent entry on Engrish.com as the rest of the workers in my section seem to be discussing something gravely important only a few feet away. I really shouldn't read funny things at work.

Did the question and answer thing again with the 3rd years at Kaneku. Once again, I show the kids just how ignorant I am about basketball and soccer. Out of a class of 40 kids, 20 of them ask me a question about sports. What sports do I like? What's my favorite national soccer team? Can I play basketball? Do I know Michael Jordan? etc. etc. I tell them I like running. The teacher asks who else likes running. Not one hand goes up. I shrug my shoulders and there's this moment of awkward silence during which the kids are probably contemplating what a complete dork I am. They ask me music questions, but usually in the form of "Do you like the Backstreet Boys?" I can't lie, so I just say, "They're very handsome." They always seem pleased with that answer because it sounds affirmative. Kyushoku (school lunch) background music was the Muzac melody to "The Lift is Up Where We Belong". Yesterday it was "The Way We Were" and "You Light Up My Life". For some unknown and probably utterly bizarre reason, the Japanese want to eat lunch to the Muzac sounds of love song hits of the 70's. Just one more of those little delightful mysteries. :)

February 28th (Haiku Zaniness)
Today is the last day of February. We tried to get the kids to write haiku poems in English today, but it was like pulling teeth with a pair of tweezers. I think the assignment might have been a hair too difficult. And they probably weren't that keen on exposing their soft, creative underbelly to a roomful of their peers, either. However, a couple of the kids came up with some amazingly good stuff. My favorite, though, was an example brought in by the JTE. It read: "Fragrant olive / Calls me / To a fantasy land". The syllable count is off, but I like it anyway.