Thursday, April 26, 2012

April's Random Photos

Just when you think you have escaped a latrine-style toilet of Mozambique, you come to Japan and get the modern version.

I am always amazed by the size of bobbles and trinkets that both boys and girls put on their bags. Sometimes it seems like they probably weigh more than the actual item in the bag, in this case, badminton racquets.

This is what I like to call "The Wall of Warning." It warns of the dangers of what seems to be eczema, smoking and the effects of too much studying. Just a few days before, they warned of proper dental care, falling asleep with your feet under a kotatsu table (heated table) and suffering second degree burns.

My parents are coming to Japan on Saturday night so I am going to pick them up from the airport and we are taking the night ferry to Ojika. Fun will be had in Ojika, Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka for Golden Week in Japan. Can't wait to see them! 21 months is far too long to go without seeing your parents! Pictures to come!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back in the Habit

My desk - where all the magic happens.

Today was the first day of school in the high school. The kids in first year all showed up in their new uniforms, looking slightly nervous. They set up the gym, which takes a looong time. They put down a floor covering so that the chairs don't mark the floors, set up chairs and actually physically measure the distance between chairs and their angles, put up red and white striped cloth around the gym (so it looks like an old-fashioned election day), and bring out the bonsai tree. It looks great but it's also a lot of work for a short ceremony. Everyone works really well together though. It was fun to see a bunch of mothers decked out in their kimonos. I also had fun chatting with the kids about their spring vacation hair cuts. Turns out whenever you mention the word "bald" (hage) in Japanese, students find it hysterical.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Favorite Things

I am going to go all Oprah about my favorite things to do in Japan - but I'm sorry, no one is getting new cars, espresso machines or comfortable slippers. What do I do in my free time in Ojika? I do a lot of reading and writing (no arithmetic, I hate math), and I like to go for walks around the island.

I am lost without my Kindle. I take it everywhere I go and when I have downtime, I just pull it out and read. I am like a 90-year old senior citizen, amazed by technology. It's just shockingly wonderful that I can carry 100 books in something the size of one.

I know that some people say that journaling is for 12-year old girls, but I have kept a journal religiously since I left university. These are all the journals that I have filled up since coming to Japan. It's a great stress-reliever and it's great looking back at the stories and my embarassing immaturity in the past.

I have never been a fan of manga or comics or anything of that sort. It probably has to do with the fact that I worked at a bookstore for about two and a half years and people would always come and sprawl across the floor in the middle of that section to read the books rather than buying them, blocking my path. But I bought this compendium of the Walking Dead comic book series and it's actually quite good, although morbid and depressing enough that I have only made it about halfway through so far. For those of you who don't know Walking Dead, it's about a zombie apocalypse and people trying to survive. Sometimes I just need to put it down and go watch a panda sneeze on Youtube to add some levity to my day. I doubt I will ever actually get into reading comics but my students in Japan LOVE comics and manga.

I also go for walks around the island. I have enjoyed exploring all the roads and walking past all the rice paddies and farms. There was a frightening encounter with an enormous roaming cow on one part of the island. We just stood there and stared at each other for a few seconds while I tried to remember if cows ever charge. I am not a farm girl. But almost anywhere you go in Ojika, you can find a great view of the sea.

And here is just a random picture of a gift a friend gave me for my birthday back in February. It's a model Japanese restaurant. She got it as a kit and she put it together piece by little piece. Super kawaii!

Like a Rabbit on a Leash

'Tis the season for cherry blossoms. It's called Hanami in Japan, which basically translates to "sit under a bunch of trees and eat a picnic." If you go to the big parks, you will see large groups of friends and families bbq-ing together and just enjoy being outside, camped out under the pretty trees.

In honor of Easter, it seems fitting to post that while we were walking around, we saw a couple with a rabbit on a harness leash.

We thought a paddleboat would be a fun activity.

The fun ended when the paddleboat jammed and we could no longer peddle. We had to naturally crash-land into the "coast" on the lake and crawl ashore (while a really confused couple secured the swan paddleboat for us). I am pretty sure that the people relaxing by the water thought we didn't understand how to operate a paddleboat. It was a dramatic rescue that resulted in us sitting with the boat, like a rabbit on a leash, until the paddleboat operators came and hauled it away.

Anthony Bourdain goes to Mozambique!

So I am really excited to watch the No Reservations episode on the Travel Channel! On Monday, April 9th, they are showing Mozambique and Mozambican food! It looks like he goes to Maputo and the fish market there, Beira and Nampula. In this video, he is on Ilha de Mocambique, which was close to where I lived in Nampula. Nampula, represent!