Sorry about last week guys. Tuesday night I actually wrote the entire Sumo post but once I had finished it I was too tired to proofread it or sort out the photos and videos. I would have done that Wednesday or Thursday but my recently arrived Franny has been monopolising blogging time somewhat. Still after that minor hiccup we appear to be back on schedule. The current schedule is still subject to change in the next few weeks (I think Monday/ Thursday is likely to be the new format) but until then bear with me.
So what have I been up to.
School’s Out For….About a Week.
Yup, that’s me finished at Fukuda Chugakko. I now no longer work there.
Well, actually I do. In fact I’m at work as I type this (future Adam: not anymore) and will be coming to Fukuda Friday and Monday, but all my classes are finished, the term has ended and the academic year has come to a close. In fact they had a whole ceremony to say goodbye to me. I had to deliver a speech to the two grades still at school and I could see some of my students were crying as they were sitting in the hall. Now that’s a bit of an ego boost. Afterwards one of the students (weirdly one who never talks to me much) came up and delivered a speech to me from the student body. The gist of it was
“We thought that people from England were cold and quiet but you are friendly and cool. You taught us all about England and said good morning to us every morning. You made us like English, thank you.”
And that is an honestly amazing feeling, particularly the part about changing their views about the English. That is exactly what I am here to do, educate people about other cultures at a grassroots level. There is no more satisfying feeling than to be told, you had a job to do and you did it.
I was very, very emotional I must say.
So with my first school now finished, my girlfriend in Japan and myself well and truly established I guess the first stage of my experience here has been completed. I haven’t really had the time to reflect on what I achieved and didn’t achieve in stage 1 but I think that will be a subject for a post very soon.
But bring on sage 2. April 1st, Iwaoka Chugakko, let’s kick some ass.
Spring has sprung in Nihon and the plum blossom is dying off and making way for the cherry blossom and the traditional season for hanami (going to look at cherry blossoms) which will see the entire population of Japan all simultaneously decide to go to a park. The weather is getting warmer and I am resuming my adventures, starting with Kobe’s own castle Akashi.
Of course when I say castle I mean, remains of a castle. Not in the sense of the ruins we have in the U.K., what’s left are still whole buildings, but rather in the sense that nothing is still standing except the walls and the guard houses. This is what happens when you build out of wood, it gets destroyed, frequently.
So Akashi is mostly a big park on the grounds where a castle once stood with some walls and guard houses to form a focal point for the scenery. Hardly spectacular but nonetheless pretty handsome.
I took Fran and we spent the day wandering through parks, eating sushi in Japanese guards, gazing at scenery and at one point having a go on a pedallo shaped like a sea monster.
We had a great time but we were absolutely terrible tourists because by the time we finally got around to looking at the castle remains they were shut! Ooops. Not to worry as I expect I shall be back eventually (probably in the summer for a picnic) and it didn’t look like we were missing anything spectacular anyway.
The real highlight of the day was these guys.
Well alright they’re actually terrapins but the Japanese word Kame covers turtles, terrapins and tortoises so I am perfectly happy to call them turtles even if I am wrong.
How cool is that, I spotted one in the middle of a pond and was excited because, well how often do you see wild terrapins? Then Fran spotted that at the edge of the pond there were loads of the little blighters sunning themselves on rocks. About 30 or 40 in total I’d guess.
I’ll give Japan this, it has very interesting wildlife. Sure, some of it (hornets, snakes, bears, wild boars) can kill you, which is not something I am used to but Japan has the vast majority of cool British animals and lots of animals I have never seen in the wild before. Like monkeys!
Honestly I still can’t get over the fact that I live in a country with wild monkeys. MONKEYS!
So last Sunday Fran made me watch Japanese television.
Now I don’t need to tell you about Japanese television, you all know what it’s like, it’s messed up. Having said that I don’t really watch much Japanese TV because I don’t get any cool channels and I don’t really understand the vast majority of what is on.
Fran on the other hand spent her last trip to Japan pretty much just constantly watching TV whenever she wasn’t visiting something.
I was made to watch a “dorama” (a drama but really more like a soap with a limited run than what we think of as a drama series) about a couple going through some kind of divorce/custody battle dealie in court. Now I am no huge fan of soap operas but take solace readers that the actors in British soap operas can to a limited degree act. In fact some of them can act very well.
The people in this drama didn’t act, they engaged in a constant to see who could be more and more emotional. With about 5 minutes to the end the tears were in such volume that I was surprised the judge didn’t need a snorkel. Combine this with the INCREDIBLY DRAMATIC MUSIC and the dynamic not at all appropriate for TV camera angles and you have something that was simply hysterical to watch.
After we finished that I caught maybe 10 minutes of a comedy that, despite not really understand what was happening, was actually brilliant. In those 10 minutes I saw a man wrestle a bear, then have a dream where sticks flew at him, then accidentally shoot a woman with a blow dart in the arse, then tell another woman’s fortune who was scared of men because when she was a child a boy did the fake hand handshake trick with her and now she is permanently scarred. So she needed to hide behind a bush whilst he told her fortune.
Japanese comedy is mostly more about slapstick than Western comedy probably due to the nature of their society and language. The Japanese language is absolutely rife with puns but a lot of these are based on how kanji can be read in different ways and they are more clever and witty than particularly funny. Furthermore Japanese people are not sarcastic, they simply aren’t, and they struggle with irony too. So Japanese humour is more about slapstick and anecdotes, i.e. seeing something funny happen to someone or telling a story about something funny that happened.
They’re also a lot more comfortable with surrealism and surrealist humour than the west (Japan! Surreal! Never). This is ironic considering how much the Japanese love their systems and the “right” way to do something.
Add these together and Japanese comedies are surprisingly accessible even if you don’t speak the language. A lot of it is about setting up surreal or humorous images or situations (i.e. a man wrestling a bear) than about telling jokes and this particular show really tickled me. In fact it reminded me of the Mighty Boosh. I’m going to try and catch it again this Sunday and if I do I’ll try and find out what it is called and find some youtube clips.
Funny/ Interesting Pictures I Have Seen Recently
This is a hot food vending machine. You select your meal it dispenses it and then you have to put it in a microwave at the bottom of the vending machine. Not that weird but I do like collecting the different kinds of vending machines. Of this selection the chips and noodles look like they’d be pretty tasty if pressed but I would steer well clear of the takoyaki (octopus dumplings).
It had all started so well too!