Japan 2014 post 42

November thirteenth
Today was my day at Yuta’s junior highschool. I hoped that I wouldn’t be too tired today, I wasn’t able to fall asleep last night. I guess I just shouldn’t ink about parkour or my tiny house if I want to fall asleep quickly!
It was six fifteen when I got up, so everything was a bit foggy. Ironically it was foggy outside too, and quite cold. But I remember having a shower, and eating the bowl of yogurt, granola, and raspberries that Catherine made me. It was delicious. But when I was finished I lay back down for half an hour before Ayako came to pick me up. I was pretty nervous, but I knew that I would try to make the most of the day. Ayako and I had a bit of time before Yuta was ready, so we walked down the street to get a drink. Ayako bought me a hot chocolate from the vending machine. I had forgotten that the machines have the capability to keep things hot too, it’s pretty cool. And the hot chocolate was just what I needed on a cold day. We walked back to Ayako’s place, and when Yuta was ready we walked to school with one of his friends. The Homeroom teacher met us at the gate, and we introduced ourselves. He’s a young man, maybe twenty four, and he was very nice. He told Ayako that we should go to the office so that I could introduce myself at the morning meeting. I always get a bit nervous when I have to make a speech on the fly, and this was in Japanese. There were a lot of teachers, so it was nerve wracking. But really I just had to say a few words, so it went fine.
After that Ayako said goodbye, and I went with Yuta and the teacher to the classroom. When I got there it seemed everyone was excited to meet me. And my coming must’ve been forewarned, because people kept calling out my name in the hallways and saying hello. But I just had to say a quick hello before they moved on, whereas my classmates were with me for the day. In fact I had to introduce myself again. Even though I was the same thing I had done five minutes ago I was nervous. But it went fine, and we continued on with the day.
Last night Ayako had been told that I didn’t need to worry about a uniform or anything, just don’t wear anything flashy. So I was much more comfortable than I would’ve been if I’d had to dress up. Instead I was weari my Canada sweater, a t shirt, black sweatpants, and my running shoes that I had bought to use as indoor shoes today. I also had my red outdoor shoes, and red backpack, so I ended up in all red and black! Catherine and Ayako said that my clothes was perfectly acceptable. I had wondered if I should wear jeans, but Catherine said that jeans are even more casual than sweatpants in Japan. Although hardly anyone wears sweats. Plus all of my jeans are ripped. But in my own clothes, I felt much more comfortable starting the day.
The first class was Homeroom, which started out by me introducing myself. Actually every class starts with the students standing up, bowing to the teacher, and saying Onegaishimasu. Which basically means please, as in please teach us. Every class stars like that, and ends with another bow and a thank you. After that the teacher talked for a while, though I could only understand tiny bits and pieces. Then handouts were passed out to everyone else, and they had to fill them in. I’m not actually sure what they were. The period was pretty short, so next we went to a different classroom. Using a very useful English-Japanese dictionary someone had leant him, Yuta was able to convey that it was Home Economics. But it seemed more like crafts to me. We were making what the teacher described as “interesting glasses” by twisting and cutting wire. The other students were to be a lot me precise than me, including measuring their face, and making designs, but I just got to start. The teacher explained to me what to do (or at least I think so, as I couldn’t understand very much), then gave me a pair of needle nose pliers with wire cutters. The wire was already on our table, so I began. I basically just doubled a length of wire back in itself, held the ends in the pliers, and twisted. Pi liked the look of the results, so made it into my first eye. I then repeated the process for the other eye, part at goes across your nose, and legs. It was a bit tricky to connect them all together, so it was pretty flimsy. And they weren’t anywhere near as nice as the pair she had showed me, which were very interesting, and complicated. But it was fun anyways.
The next class was tough by an older lady, and I’m not exactly sure what it was. Yuta said it was something to do with textiles. And we had books open to pages showing what fibres are used to make different fabrics. As well as what seemed to be a recipe book. Catherine wonders if if was a continuation of home economics. But anyways, I couldn’t understand what was going on at all, since the teacher was just talking at the front of the class. At one point everyone got out their uniform jackets and looked at the tag. I assume they were seeing what materials it was made of. But later in the class, she came to the back and tried to explain to me, but I still couldn’t really understand. She had a little bit of English, so it was able to answer her when she asked what my t shirt was made of, and then understand when she was showing me different foods in the recipe book. She also asked me to got to the front if the class and tell everyone my favourite Canadian foods. Breakfast, lunch, and supper. In Japanese of course. I didn’t want to try to explain that I don’t really have favourite foods, I like most food, so instead I said cinnamon swirls for breakfast (those actually are my favourite breakfast), soup and sandwiches for lunch, and pizza for supper. I don’t know if these constituted as “Canadian” foods, but I didn’t really know what did. Other than salmon, and maple syrup, and poutine…
The next class was English. The teacher was an older Japanese man, and his English was good. However, it wasn’t perfect in terms of pronunciation and such. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to converse with someone in English, but I think that unless you are super fluent, native English speakers should teach English. That said he was good at it, and it was really nice to be able to be understood, and understand! In the class, after going over some basics, the date, weather, etc, and singing a (Christmas?!? Already?!?) song, the teacher said that the class had a good English opportunity with me being there, and invited me up to the front. I had already been up to introduce myself in English, but this time we did a question and answer thing. I totally agree with him that I’m a good chance to practice English, even though I don’t like being put on the spit so much. But it went well. A lot of the kids were shy to speak, which I understand, but I was impressed by their English. I was able to understand and respond, but often they didn’t understand my response and the Sensei had to translate. One of the answeres they did understand was my favourite wild animal. And for some reason everyone found it very funny when I said it was a monkey.
In the end I stood up front for around forty minutes, but even so not everyone asked a question. The class is over thirty students so that was understandable. In fact, it’s a really big school, around 1200 students in just three grades. So each grade is split into several classes to make It manageable. But still! I remember more than 20 students being crowded at my old school. And grades the whole school (from pre kindergarten to grade eight) wasn’t even three hundreds students!
During short breaks throughout the day, and lunch, I was able to hangout with my classmates. And every time they seemed to find a lot of enjoyment pointing at others and saying “he/she’s crazy”, to which the person would say they weren’t, and that someone else was. Then sometimes they would say “He’s ichiban (number one) crazy, she’s niban” etc. It was pretty funny, but I wonder if crazy is more of an insult in Japan, because no one wanted be be called crazy. But none of it was serious, it was all joking of course.
The next class we had was industrial arts. I had really been looking forward to this one! And I was not disappointed, as we made chopsticks. The Sensei explained everything to the rest of the class, then once they got started he was able to help me out. I went to the front (which wasn’t a big deal, since everyone else was working), and he showed me what to do. Everyone got two rectangular pieces of wood (in fact I had seen the exact same pieces at Tokyu Hands), and put them into a jig of sorts. Then we had to plane it down. Of course we had to rotate and change the pieces as we went along so that each side would be even. Once I got going it was really easy, and felt great! It was nice to get my hands on some wood after such a long time without. Once I had finished the planing, I had two rectangular, tapering, chopsticks! Next all I had to do was sanded them down. But as I was sanding, I hit a crack, and one of the pieces split a bit. But the Sensei was able to glue it for me, so I’ll just have to finish sanding it when I get home since the pair is uneven smoothness. The other students are going to be working on these for a while, so they were also making a chopstick pillow. But I was glad with what I had done, and I was really glad the teacher was so nice and helpful.
Next we had lunch. We all moved our desk into a different position, making several bigger lunch tables, and designated students served the food. We had rice, fish, vegetables, and miso soup. All of the food was delicious, but I found the milk tasted a bit weird, something I remembered from last time too. Catherine’s milk is different than the milk I drink in Canada, but I don’t mind it. Whereas this was different than Catherine’s milk too. When I asked Catherine about it she said she knew what I meant, and that now she actually enjoys the flavour. She also told me that maybe it was because the milk was whole, maybe 4% or something. But I didn’t know if that was why I hadn’t liked it so much. Thinking back, it sort of tasted like the raw milk I had in Saskatoon a few times, but I didn’t think this milk would be raw. But anyways, the food was great.
After lunch we had a recess. Everyone went outside, and Yuta, the Homeroom teacher, five other boys, and I played basketball. Yuta is on a basketball team, so he’s really good. We were on a team together with two other guys, against the teacher and three of the other boys. It was so much fun! I haven’t played basketball really since the last time I was in Japan, but I still found it super fun, and I wasn’t too bad. I was the tallest (around the same height as the teacher too), so I had a nice high jump for blocking, passing, and catching rebounds. Even though I only scored one basket, I think I helped.
After the break we had math. The teacher was another young man, but I didn’t like him so much. He didn’t seem as warm as the Homeroom teacher, and maybe I just didn’t know him or his sense of humour, but he seemed sort of mean. But anyways, the other kids had homework that they were supposed to have done, and he started the class by seeing who hadn’t finished it. And he counted me as not having done it. Which is very true, since I hadn’t had any! During the class, I had to do the math as well. He started by giving me a sheet in Japanese, which I didn’t understand at all, but he luckily had an English sheet. But since I haven’t done math for a while I wasn’t doing very well, and needed help. It was algebraic expressions, which I had trouble with last year, and now I’d forgotten. If he had been able to help me, I probably would’ve remembered, but instead he just took it away and gave me something easier. But even that I needed Yuta’s help with. It was embarrassing. After everyone else finished the worksheet, we got geometry ones. That I found easy once I found out what we were doing. It was just area and patterns.
The teacher never did it to me, but during the class he called someone who was struggling with an easy question a “Nihon-Jin Baka”, or a Japanese idiot. He also threatened to flick someone when they were fooling around. But I couldn’t tell if he was just joking around or not. I just don’t know him, but I didn’t like his vibes.
Our last period was gym, and we played dodgeball! I love dodgeball! but I haven’t really been able to play since I left school. So it was especially enjoyable. We played the version where when people from the opposite team get hit, they go to an are behind you, were if they hit you with a ball they’re freed, the you have to go to the opposite side. The first game we only played with one ball, so it wasn’t too dangerous, but the second game there were two. So if people behind you and in front had balls, it could be dangerous! But when I had played is version in school, there were tons of balls, not just two. So it was even more dangerous. There were also two people on our team who couldn’t be hit twice, this was to balance out the numbers on the teams.
Apparently dodgeball is super popular, and people actually train for it. And there were certainly some really good players! Their balls were so fast, and they curved in strange ways and such. But I had some good dodges, and only got hit once. I also hit a few people. And I caught some balls too. I never went to the other side, since I was one of the people who could to be hit twice. It was so much fun. After two games, we only had a few minutes left, so Yuta, several other guys, and I played basketball. Other people watched, and it was a blast.
After that, the teacher asked me to make a little goodbye speech, and by now I was hardly even nervous. So I said thank you, and that it was a lot of fun. Then we all took a picture together. In fact, the teacher had been taking pictures all throughout the day, and he’ll get them to me through Yuta and Ayako.
Before the day was over, we all cleaned the classroom and halls. This is part of a (possibly daily, definitely weekly) practice. In fact, most schools don’t even have a janitor, the students do the cleaning. After we finished we had one last bow and thank you to the teacher, then I made sure to thank him for the day. Then most people went home. I was able to say goodbye to some people, but not everyone. But we couldn’t go home yet, Yuta had a lunch committee meeting. By this time I was exhausted, so I didn’t even try to understand. But the English teacher told me that they were making decisions about the school lunches. But once the meeting was done, Yuta and I walked home with a bunch of other guys, and we all talked. They asked me several things, including if I liked bread or rice better, and if Canadian rice was better than Japanese rice. I was able to talk to them pretty well! And of course all throughout the day there had been little conversations as well.
When we got back to Yuta’s place, I said goodbye for now, and Ayako drove me home. I’ll be seeing Yuta again tomorrow since we’re going to an amusement park together with Kazuya. At home I was exhausted. Both from the early morning, but mostly all the Japanese, and people! But I helped Catherine put some stuff away in their attic before supper. It has an awesome ladder that inspired me for how I’ll do my house’s ladder.
For supper Eriko gave us amazing Oden, and noriyaki (a type of sushi). Both were delicious! Catherine also gave me superb sandwiches made of the amazing buns, chicken, and cranberry sauce. After the meal I’ve been writing this journal. I’m really tired, so I had a sprite, and have been eating candy to keep myself awake. And I just realized that one day I wrote my blog post, then somehow didn’t publish it and lost it! So, sorry about that, but I’ll try to redo it when I have the chance.
I had a great day at school today, and I’ve got another great day coming up tomorrow. So I hope I get a good sleep!
Christopher imageimageimage


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jacquee on November 15, 2014 at 8:15 am

    WOW!! What a humongous day you have had!!!!!!!!!!! I’m assuming that sensei means ‘teacher’ or instructor? I’ve heard you use that term before. And yes, I was trained as a draughtsman, my first job which I held for many years. But we will talk about that when you get back home. I’m am just now following all your experiences of living in a different culture & learning a new language. You are blessed with this experience! And you give us much pleasure to follow along with you.


    • Yes, it was humongous! But it was very good. And you’re right, Sensei mean teacher in Japanese. Although it’s used in English (amoung martial arts usually), for the instructors.
      Wow, I’m excited to hear about you being a draftsman, that’s very interesting…
      I hope you keep enjoying my journals, and thanks for reading!


  2. Posted by ecosophian on November 15, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Sounds like an awesome day, and you handled things very well! Do you think you would like to be back to school, or is it better working on your own?


    • Yes, it was awesome! And thank you.
      Being at that school did make me question if I want to go back… There are lots of good things about school, but I think at least for now I prefer how we’re going. I definitely like our unschooling, and the freedom for learning it gives. But I miss the social contact that apparently only school can offer. It seems like if teenagers want to meet people, school’s where to do it. But for now, with riding the bus, school, homework, and my own routines and chores (devotional, flour, exercise) I would have no time to do the things that I’m actually really interested in. And I wouldn’t be able to hang out with Johnny as much, or the kids, or you guys! But I think if we were in the city I would seriously think about it…. Especially if there was a possibility of going with Morgan.
      But all that said, I’m happy where we are right now.


  3. Posted by jacquee on November 17, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Very nicely put…….your answer to your dad. I have a little saying that hangs on my wall above my computer space. It says…..’blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape’. You have been going thro’ a number of changes in the past couple of years & have been flexible with them. And now you are in Japan!! What a wondrous experience! And I’m addicted to reading about your experiences there. I look for your blog every day. Keep your heart open & your mind sharp & I’m sure more good things will flow your way. ONWARD!


  4. Thank you! It mean a lot to me to hear that. There certainly have been a. Lot of changes in the last while, but I think they’ve been good changes. And I am in Japan! Something that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I was in “normal” school.
    I’m really glad to hear you like the posts, they’ll keep coming!


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