long time no blog,
the first thing i did over the long weekend was travel to a buddhist temple with all of the other JETs and hold and english camp for about 40 japanese young students. the buddhist temple was number 7 out of the 88 on this island of shikoku, so you can look up the name. it is considered a holy rite to travel to all 88 temples, so monks with their triangle hats and white clothes and staffs were always coming and going. the hotel accomidations were quite nice for a buddhist temple. here is the view from outside my window
but you probably want to hear about english camp. well, it was only two and a half days long, but in that time there were many games and activities packed in. there were 6 groups or teams that were competing with one another for points with these games. and also, everyone had a little pamphlet with questions they were supposed to ask and get asked, like whats your name, hobbies, where are you from etc., and the two students who got the most information got prizes. our team, the "crazy takoyaki eating zebras" got 400 points and won the entire thing! what really helped was the entertaining skit we put on at the end, in english. i choreographed the fight scenes, and it was a lot of fun.
the next thing we did was go to tokushima city for awa odori. if you dont know what awa odori is, go to youtube and look it up, there should be thousands of videos of people dancing. it is the second largest dance festival in the world. the point is to go crazy and behave like a fool, and you dont have to stick to any particular dance moves, although the people tend to stick to a general format pretty closely. like a fool, i took most pictures with the camera on my phone instead of my cool pics, and since my computer is a netbook and has no cd drive, i cant install the software to get the photos out of the phone until i buy an external USB cd drive or something. so here are the few photos i took with my actual camera
now this was right in front of the train station as we were leaving the city to go home. if you look closely on the left, you can see the wonderful hats that the formal women get to wear. their dance is very different from the mens'; the women have to keep their hands above their heads at all times, and the women have to wear wooden geta shoes that are extremely uncomfortable-looking, while the men can basically do whatever they want and get really low to the ground. here is another shot as the people went by
now, we did get to participate in this dance. we went by three stages, our group of mostly foreigners, dressed in japanese clothing. this is the only shot i have of myself, now i did take it with my phone and wound up emailing to myself attached to a text email, so i could probably do this with some of the other photos, but i think its going to be expensive. the towel around my head wound up going around my neck, as we were given out polka dotted headbands at the dinner party before the dance
so that is all the proof you should really need. for the last stage, i asked if i could help by holding the gigantic oversized novelty fan with our group's name on it, and i was allowed to, even though i got weird looks from a lot of people. i had a good time and my legs are a little achey from getting so into the moves, but i am glad i didnt drink too much at the dinner or on the dance route like a lot of other people did. if i stay for another year, i get to do this again in 2010.
now, the price we had to pay for being put up in a hotel one night after english camp, so we could dance, was having to sit through a japanese lesson and a puppet show the morning after, where just about everyone was very hung over and not in the mood to participate after staying up all night drinking and dancing. i appreciated the sentiment, but the execution of this day was not supposed to be pleasant. we were doing our jobs just by showing up and sitting still. here is a picture i got of the puppet show. the people in black hoods control the puppets, and the entire thing is very mesmerizing to see in real life.
these two puppets wound up committing ritual mutual suicide at the end of the scene, so, yeah.
now i'm back at the office, and i don't start seriously teaching anything anywhere for two good weeks. there was just no water running here at the school so everyone was frantic and worried, but i think it started to run again.
oh, here is the best news: i got paid! and the amount of money, which would would know if you had been reading along with me, is just about equal to the amount of money that i have seen many people win on quiz shows on TV and in lottery contests. so i have a wallet with a little more money in it now.
i finally bought and ate two sets of takoyaki last night. takoyaki is balls of starchy dough with squid pieces in it, topped with ponzu sauce, mayo and fish flakes, and on one i got scallions too. it takes like heaven, but two sets was probably too much. it was a very filling dinner.
there are a couple of other american kids around here, teachers in different parts of the city, and we were supposed to have a party last night, but we didn't because i thought i wasn't working today, which i am. so we will probably do it next week. i am the only one with a car, and i'm not really trying to make friends, i'm just supposed to use these people for emotional support.
a i forgetting anything? any comments or requests? let me know, i have basically nothing to do today.
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