I am abysmally behind. In my defense, blogger got blocked at school (where I usually played catch up, during exam time), and then I was busy, you know. Moving back to America.
So let's back, back, back, back it up (back it up!). The last big thing I wrote about -- other than the tragic passing of frisbee man -- was my brother's visit. ...In January. Hah! Needless to say, about a million things have transpired in the interim. Highlights!
Shamisen concert and enkai. Back in late January (I know, I know) my shamisen class did a free performance at an old folks home. Our teacher is a care worker there for his day job. I only found out about the concert three days prior, when Kawai-sensei casually mentioned it, and asked whether I wanted to come. I'd never seen the group perform before, so I thought it would be a good chance, and agreed. Then he said, "Good! You'll be playing four songs." What. I'd only been practicing for three months! Then he added, "And you'll play this one by yourself. Solo!" WHAAAT. I was pretty nervous about it, but in the end, it went off fine. Any mistakes I made were drowned out by the rest of the group, and the old people were mostly chill -- except for one sort of strange lady who was like an elderly groupie. She kept shouting compliments at me in English, and exclaiming about how handsome Kawai-sensei is, hahaha. Before the solo, Kawai-sensei had me stand up to introduce myself. First, he asked the audience, "Now, where do you think this young lady is from?" and one adorable old lady, who must not have been able to see very well, querulously suggested, "Kameoka?"
The enkai party afterwards was held in a colorful little crab shack all the way in Maizuru. We drove for a few hours to get there, and proceeded to eat an obscene amount of crab. There was also bar-wide karaoke, but fortunately, we were the only customers, so we could sing with abandon. The ladies in my shamisen class -- who upon further conversation, turn out to be mostly brassy old bachelorettes -- insisted that I go up and sing "the Titanic song!!!" And then I fell asleep in the van on the way home.
The Higashi-Uji English Seminar. Taking place in early February, this was round two for several of us AETs. Sponsored by Joanna's school, we went to a hotel in Kyoto city for two days and pretty much had nonstop English time with a class of her students. Games, cultural presentations, the city-wide photo scavenger hunt, and of course...the English skit contest. The students' skits were all pretty cute, and we AETs tried to make a Japanese one to break the ice. The premise was this: famous characters at a singles party, trying to make romantic matches. The cast list ended up something like this:
Joanna as Nami (a character from popular Japanese pirate show "One Piece")
Kristi as Hello Kitty
David as Batman
Sam as Sailor Moon (a Japanese schoolgirl turned fighter for justice)
Robbie as the Terminator
Ryan as Doraemon (Japanese blue robot cat from the future)
and myself as Hermione Granger, host of the party
It went over pretty well. The kids especially loved Batman and Doraemon's costumes, I think. In the end, only one match was made -- Hello Kitty ran off with the Terminator.
Day out with sannensee. So, a couple of third years from my school had been trying for some months to arrange an outing with me. (Extra cute because they aren't even students that I had taught! They just came to the teachers' room and started chatting to me.) We went to Kyoto Tower, which is pretty silly but has a nice view of the city. Then we stopped by a big temple called Higashi Hongan-ji, which I'd never visited before. This turned out to be hilarious, because there was a whole crowd of pigeons that you could feed some bird food. Saika, the slightly spastic ringleader of our group, decided to give it a shot, and was immediately set upon. I managed to get a video of the pigeons repeatedly dive-bombing her as she shrieks in a very un-Japanese way. It still makes me crack up every time I watch it! Afterwards, we wandered over to Kiyomizu Temple, where despite the cold rain, Saika convinced me to take my first and thus far only ride in a rickshaw. We finished it off with a return to Kyoto Station, and a nice round of student/teacher purikura -- photo stickers for everyone!
International Kids Carnival. On the last day of February, I volunteered at an event set up by the local International Association. Essentially, we set up a number of big booths representing different countries, each with different games and activities. I, of course, was working at the America booth, along with a few other local AETs and two student volunteers from my school. (Mimi and Yuiko, from my favorite class!) I ended up manning the face paint station all afternoon. Apparently, face painting is not something they do in Japan, but after a little coaxing, the kids all loved it! I even managed to convince the cameraman from a TV station covering the event to let me paint his cheek...and a few minutes later, he came back to get the other one done!
After all that, we had graduation, and a few staff parties, and preparations for the new school year. But during spring break, before the new school year got going in April, Joanna and I took an adventure trip to...VIETBODIA!!!