Saturday, August 6, 2011

That's The way (I Like It)

I'm at Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School) again - today September 27, 1991, Friday.

I have three classes today, and one of them is a team-teaching demonstration in front of all of the English teachers in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan plus the whole Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) office is there.

I'm unsure if they are there to watch the English teacher or me. Probably me. The whole point, I am sure, is to determine whether or not gaijin (foreigners) are a plus or minus for the students here in this city.

Whatever. I'm not nervous because all I can do is do what I do.

The class went very well, despite the students being nervous. Miss Iso, the first-year class' English teacher was also very nervous--she confided in me afterward. I suppose she was, but it wasn't evident to me.

Who could blame the kids and teachers for being nervous... there were an additional 25 adults in the class! I am curious as to why they chose Wakakusa as the school. Tomura-sensei is the school's head of English, and a finer gentleman and speaker of English may not be found in the city. Well... Shibata-sensei of Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) is also excellent, as are Nagashima-sensei... hell... come to think of it, each school has at least one fantastic English teacher! While some of the English teachers in Ohtawara-shi may not be the greatest of English speakers as far as pronunciation goes (that's a big reason for me being here!), their teaching skills are sublime.

The demonstration lesson was nothing fancy - we just did what we usually did. Repeat after Andrew, Andrew helps students with pronunciation, helps students with written work, makes a few jokes and tries to relax everybody, and always ensures they know that us gaijin are every bit as human as they are. It's called internationalization, and to be honest, along with interacting with the everyday populace of this city and beyond, I'm also trying to help lay the groundwork (along with the rest of the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme that hired me as an assistant English teacher) so that this generation of kids doesn't feel like gaijin are special or different... but are instead just people like them who love, laugh, cry, get angry, and who want to do the best job in life possible.

Hey... I know what my real job is here in Japan, and I do it quite well. No one hates me. No one mistrusts me. People like me and enjoy my company. I fit in without becoming Japanese.

Ken Sasanuma (Sasanuma-sensei), a young, very cool guy from Chikasono Chu Gakko (Chikasono Junior High School) presents me with some photos he took of my last visit to his school. We had a blast with his students at this very old fashioned-looking school with it's wooden floorboards and walls!

Here's a blog on my activities of the the old-man hobby if bonsai! HERE

And where are the photos of pinching trees? Somewhere in this old house... I've seen it recently, but that doesn't mean I can find it!

In the photos, I have a beard. It also shows us going out to a bonsai (Japanese tree bondage... that's what I call the miniaturizing of trees) master's farm, with me forcing a tree to bow to my will.

The OBOE bows and smiles to me, but doesn't say anything to anyone... except thanks... and then leaves.

Back home... it's raining a bit... Matthew calls and comes over to make me get off my butt and go to Matsuri restaurant for dinner. There we meet a couple of his junior high school teachers. Matthew is an assistant English teacher on the JET Programme who lives five minutes away from me in the city, and who teaches at I think five junior high schools just outside the city. Matthew also fits in quite well, despite being a thin 6'-3" strawberry blond American! He knew some Japanese language before arriving, and quickly found himself a gorgeous girlfriend in Takako Kurita.... who Matthew said yesterday that she was moving to the capital city of Utsunomiya today.

He doesn't mention anything about it... but perhaps that's because two of his teachers are there at the place plying us with lots of sake (Japanese rice wine) to drink.

By the way... now in 2011, I'm having a nice chilled glass of sake while I write this. I love the stuff! I had never had it before arriving in Japan back in late July 1990.

Matthew and I are both pissed by 10PM, at which time I bet Matthew that my ex-girlfriend and current friend-with-benefits, Ashley will be asleep when I call.

He's afraid to take that bet.

I'm unsure if he's afraid I'll blab that he and I were betting on her, or that he believed she might actually be asleep at 10PM on a Friday night. That, sweetheart, is why you are single.

Anyhow, despite being drunk, I'm not stupid or completely mean. I know she's asleep. She always was when she wasn't with me. I suppose that's fine... some people just need more sleep... but dammit... she's 23!.. look at Matthew and I! We're out having a drink with some locals... being one of the guys! We're not hitting on women... though anyone of us four could if we wanted too! We're just soaking up local and gaijin culture!

We're not sleeping away our life here in Japan. There will be plenty of time to sleep when we're dead!

(In 2011... I'm now 20 years closer to that sleep... I am so very, very tired... damn sake!)

I still enjoy her company and the sex... but dammit I wish she was more energetic!

At midnight, we say our good nights and stagger home. Matthew left his bike at my place and hopefully doesn't ride into any rice fields on the way back home. I know there aren't any rice fields between my place and his, but he is as hammered as I am... and besides... Ohtawara, like all the small towns in this country... has its sewers covered by removable cement blocks that act as sidewalks.... and they aren't always set in place... or, in a few instances, even there.

I stay up until 2AM and do my crossword puzzle while drinking Coke until I am sure I am no longer drunk.

It's been a great day of fitting in, and just being me.

Somewhere I like it,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog is by KC & The Sunshine Band: UH-HUH.
Forget the sexual lyrics... it's just a peppy song and I feel good, for goodness sake.  

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