And just like that, autumn is here. We experienced roughly a week of 20-25 Celsius temperatures, then moved quickly into 15-20 bracket. Today is 17 degrees and raining. I was warned plenty that cold feels colder in Japan than in North America, and I’m getting a feel for what that will be like come winter. A cool day here doesn’t just mean that you will be chilly from your car to your workplace; you’ll feel the temperature all day. None of the schools have central heating, and they will only start turning their heaters on once it drops below 10 degrees. So if it’s 11 degrees, overcast, and raining, you suffer through it. The students are all now in their winter uniforms, and I’ve moved on to more seasonally appropriate clothing as well. I’m staying quite comfortable for the moment.
Things are busy. A little busier than I’d like, but a couple of the contributors will be gone in a month or two. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do Taiko for two hours, and Wednesdays I have English conversation class. It leaves me with rather little spare time during the middle of the week. Until October 22nd I will also be staying an extra half hour after my regular work hours to help a student prepare for his English recitation contest. I’m mostly helping him get the word stresses and sentence rhythms sounding natural, but those damn ‘L’s and ‘V’s are a pain. At any rate, I’ll be relieved when November’s over and I can hand the English conversation class off to someone else.
School is becoming fully routine now, and I’ve prepared and delivered several activities without incident. While still slightly more troublesome, even the English conversation lessons are taking less time for me to prepare, and I worry about them less. At this rate, I might make an adequate teacher after all!
Taiko is awesome. It leaves my arms hurting all week, but its a small price to pay for the overwhelming amazingness that is Taiko. We practice in a small room, and even with all the drums muffled by blankets, the sound is powerful; it’s like standing next to the sub-woofer at a rock concert, for 2 hours. You can probably hear us from a couple blocks away. We practice right in front of the station, and I don’t think there are residential areas too close to us… so that’s good. They’re performing again in Kurashiki on the weekend of the 15th, so I’ll probably go cheer them on again. Plus it’ll give me a good reason to go to Kurashiki finally.
Speaking of trips: Itsukushima (Myajima) was awwwwwesome~! Most fun I’ve had since coming to Japan. Jeff came with me and we spent the entire day on the island. There’s a rope-way going up to the top, but I had read ahead of time that there was a lesser used hiking trail that lead to the same spot. So, we tried that. It was definitely the hardest hike I’ve done: about 2 hours of constant stairs, sometimes rather steep in areas where every second step had vanished. The trail wasn’t completely abandoned, and although we didn’t see any sign of people climbing up with us, we met 4 or 5 people headed down. Once we lounged on the top for a while, we opted to take the rope-way back. The town was full of ridiculously tame, tiny deer, that were content to let the crowds of tourists (including us!) stop and pet them.
The world heritage site of a shrine was as great as it has been made out to be. We made it back down from the mountain too late to enter the treasure hall, but the view out over the bay from the shrine corridors was beautiful. We also managed to be there for both high and low-tide, so we were able to see the famous grand-torii both exposed on the tidal flat, and standing in water. Sunset at high-tide was amazing, and I am now one of the millions who probably own a picture of that sight. The only disappointment was the utter lack of the monkeys I had been promised. Even other JETs that have been to Miyajima seemed surprised that we hadn’t seen any. I plan on going back in the spring to camp on the island.
Last weekend the second year JETs in Ibara took us into Fukuyama to visit a favourite pub, and it was a fairly good time. The fact that we had to catch the last train back at 10:30something was a bit of a bother, but we still enjoyed ourselves. That said, I don’t think it was so wonderful to warrant the trip. There are still plenty of nearby places I haven’t been to yet, and I don’t suffer from the urge to get to a larger city at every opportunity.
With this rapidly cooling weather, I will need to pick up some warmer clothes soon. I have what I thought were warm cloths, but I’m going to need at least another layer before too much longer.
As I was writing that, the 3 special needs students came through the teachers room selling sweet potatoes. It was fun times. Somehow without spending any money I ended up with six of the small things. After consulting the other teachers, it seems I can get away with just slicing and cooking them in a frying pan. Guess I have some potatoes to eat.
(Pictures actually to follow this time)