Hi everyone! It’s been a busy week for me. Even though I only had one day of classes last week, preparations for the 6th grade graduation and preparing to change schools took up a lot of time.
Firstly, our last day of kyuushoku (school lunch) was last Tuesday, so Wednesday and Thursday we had bentos!
On Wednesday we had (from top left clockwise): burdock, carrot, and daikon salad; boiled pumpkin; fried sweet potato; rice with tsukemono and umeboshi (pickled plum), pasta salad, half a boiled egg, fish, karaage (fried chicken), some kind of meat-and-vegetable croquette-thing, and some veggies.
On Thursday we had (from top left, clockwise): boiled spinach, some kind of…tofu?, egg, dango on a stick, tempura (shrimp, pepper, pumpkin, mushroom, and sweet potato), tsukemono, sweet red beans, and takenoko gohan (rice with bamboo shoots). It was so delicious!
On Tuesday I was invited to see one of my 4th grade classes have a party. They were in groups and quizzed the class or performed skits (one group of three girls even played a song on their horns!), though they were having so much fun it was hard for an outsider (me) to really follow everything that was happening.
The only part I did understand was the group that did the skit Abunai Poteto, or “Dangerous Potato.” Two kids in sunglasses pushed the other kids around shouting stuff at each other… It was fairly funny, though at one point a kid pulled out a toy revolver (sans orange tip) and pretended to shoot his friend in the head with it. In Japan, it’s perfectly fine for kids to play and do this; in America, those kids would probably have been suspended from school!
At the very end the teacher sang a song called 365 Nichi no Kamihikouki (365 Days of Paper Airplanes) by AKB48, a famous Japanese idol group. The kids joined in after the first chorus. It was lovely!
On Thursday it was time for the 6th graders’ graduation. My base school is 8sho, so I went there. At 9:45 everyone sat down and the kids filed in. Everything was perfectly rehearsed – they’ve been practicing for weeks! They marched up, one by one, up onto the stage, where the principal handed them their diploma. They had to stop in front of him and bow; then the principal held out the diploma with two hands and the student took it, straight-armed, first the right side, then the left; then they stepped back, diploma still held straight out, bowed again, turned left on their heel, tucked the diploma under their left arm, and marched off stage.
Then there were lots of speeches from various PTA members, lots of singing, one point where the 6th graders stood and turned around to address their parents, then another point where the 4th and 5th graders stood up (they were in the centre back, they sang a few songs) and faced the 6th graders and the students shouted encouragement at each other one by one.
Afterwards the students swarmed the teachers out on the playground. I got a couple of flowers from some sweet boys! I only teared up once, when one of my girls came up to me and said thank you (in my defence, she was crying too!)
After the students left around 12:30, we had our bento lunches. After that the teachers converged on the auditorium and had all the chairs folded and packed away and decorations taken down in 15 minutes flat. It was awesome!
They brought in these two huge orchid plants from the stage. From what I heard, each long stem of flowers cost around $100 each, but because 8sho bought two pots, they got them for $500 instead of $600. Whoosh!
On Friday I had my first day where I forgot which school I was supposed to go to! I went to 1sho, which I usually attend on Fridays, but because it was closing ceremony day, I was supposed to go to my base school, 8sho! I biked my butt off and made it to 8sho with one minute to spare before the closing ceremony at 8:40.
That night we had an enkai (work party)! It was the usual enkai affair – washoku! Sashimi, fried tofu, tsukemono…
On Saturday a friend of ours, Yusuke, drove us and some other friends to Matsumoto Castle in Nagano! It was a 3 1/2 hour drive out there, but it was through the mountains and it was gorgeous. I’ll be posting about that soon!
Next week is the start of the new school year. I’ve found out, I’m changing schools! So I won’t be at 1sho or 8sho anymore. I’m so sad – I’ve had a great year, the students have been fantastic, and the teachers are so friendly and helpful. But the two schools I’m going to next I’ve gone to before – one the year before last, the other when I first started teaching! I’ve actually just gotten back from visiting those schools with my boss to say hello to the principals and vice principals, and I saw a lot of familiar faces.
Also, I’m going to two different kindergartens once a month!
Fingers crossed the year ahead is as good as it looks!
Until next time, またね！