Sunday, September 5, 2010
Month 1: Check!
Well, I finally transitioned from desk work to actual teaching this week. It was definitely a welcomed change! On Monday (30th), the Watanabe’s took me to one of the few remaining portions of the Nakasendo. The Nakasendo “the road through the mountains” was one of five major “roads” during the Edo Period, roughly in 1694. Travelers used this road when they wanted to go from Kyoto to Edo (present day Tokyo). It was 332 miles long and didn’t cross any large rivers, so it was favored by women travelers. There were 69 stops on the journey and 2 were in my area. The stop I visited was the “Mitake-juku” stop, 49th on the journey. This part of the journey is famous for Hiroshige’s rendition of the resting location.
This is the sign for following the Nakasendo. The next stone says how far to each town. The kanjis are read up to down. So the kanjis on the right say, “right, to Kyoto 40….” That's as much as I can read. They did their distances a little different and for every 1 “block” they covered, we would consider it between 5-10 miles.
I love the meaning behind this sign. This part of the trail was quite a bit uphill and so I can imagine it would be very difficult carrying a load up this hill. This sign says that one day a man was getting tired and he decided that singing would be the best way to make it up the hill. So there you have it, when things get tough, sing!
Right outside of the building is this little bath area. If you wanted to get the grime off of you, this is where you would do it! It is quite deep; the picture doesn’t do it justice. Also, along the way the travelers would need to get water for themselves and their animals. This picture is one of the watering holes along the way. I was lucky enough to have the Watanabe’s pose for a picture, so finally there is a face for the name. Humans would drink on the left, and the cattle/horses would drink on the right. Apparently, when the Princess came through Mitake, she drank out of this spot and really raved about how good it tasted.
To wrap up our historical tour (there were SO many mosquitoes out, that being outside of the car was like a war zone) we went to the Christian memorial area. This is a statue of Mary; it’s quite new, built about 12 years ago. However, the land upon which it sits has been dedicated to Christianity for over 200 years (if I understood right). One of Japan’s rulers prohibited all religions except Shintoism or Buddisim, so the few Christians in Japan were left to practice in secret. They created this memorial for her.
On Friday (the 3rd), I officially earned my teacher title. I was at Kaminogo Elementary School, the smallest ES in the area, with 90 students in 6 grades. I started with 2nd grade, then to 4th grade, and then to 3rd grade. It went by so incredibly fast! In 2nd grade, our activity was coloring (my favorite) and in 3rd and 4th grade, we all played Amanda Basket. It is a game where you hand out one card to each person. There are 5 images that could be on the card. So if you are playing with 15 people, 3 people would have the same images. Well, you put all the chairs in a circle and you have one less chair than people playing. There is one person in the middle and they call out of the cards (so I had, golf, baseball, soccer, book, piano, pig) and the people with those cards had to stand up and run to switch to an empty seat. The other option is to yell, “Amanda Basket!” and everyone has to find a new seat. Definitely an entertaining game, and surprisingly violent as well!
So my day was very light compared to the other schools I will be at, 3 classes, 45 minutes each, all in a row from 9:30am-12:15pm. I would say everything went fairly well. For lunch I was invited to the 4th grade classroom. School lunch consisted of: a hot dog (I just had the bun…pork, ick), corn chowder, some cabbage, 2 grapes, and a milk. Let’s just say I might be able to reduce my food intake if I only eat those portions of the school lunch. Out of 18 school days in September, 14 have pork in them. Yippie! I think I’ll start packing a Cliff bar to each school now, just in case. I’ve also learned that I’m going to be showing up in tennis shoes, since kids like to invite the ALT to play sports outside with them. After recess is cleaning time. I was with the 3rd grade class and helped sweep their classroom. They clean for 15 minutes 4 days a week, and that is how the school keeps clean. I’m very impressed with the job that these kids did cleaning their classroom, hallways, AND bathrooms! I’m glad I wasn’t assigned to the bathroom. After that, I was done for the day. So I had about 3 hours to kill before my required 7 hour day was over. I spent the time reorganizaing my self introduction and studying kanji. Too bad this is not going to be my typical day. It was awesome!
This weekend I went to Nagoya to meet other ALTs and we went to Nagashima Spaland. Which is a roller coaster park, water park, and outlet mall right on the ocean. They have the World’s Longest roller coaster, the “Steel Dragon 2000”. It was a fantastic roller coaster and the park was awesome as well. The only negative part? It followed the trend of ridiculously hot weather! I think we decided it was about 35 degrees Celsius, so in mid 90’s! Ick. After the theme park we took the bus back to Nagoya to have dinner at the Hard Rock Café. On Sunday, I went to the Ogaki City Farmers Market. It wasn’t anything like the ones we have in Oregon/Idaho, and I was a pretty sad that I didn't get any good veggies or fruits to bring back with me.