The name of the sport is Naginata. Mirek, Ayumi’s friend from Czech, came with us and we took lots of pictures. It was amazing to watch the women who were practicing. They were extremely concentrated and precise with their movements. Towards the end of the session, Ayumi’s friend who was in the class, invited Mirek to try. He did a good job following her instructions as she slowly moved around and showed him the different positions. After she was done teaching him she turned to me. I was totally taken by surprise! I agreed but was worried that I wouldn’t understand her. She was very patient even when she had to keep moving my hands to the right positions. After the class had finished, Mirek and I were invited to come back any time. I have to wonder how much of that invitation is purely out of politeness.
My first photography class was today. The teacher, Watanabe, is fantastic. He may be my favorite teacher so far (I’ve liked about every one of my teachers). He has a great sense of humor and he’s very laid back. He basically said that in our class we can do whatever we want. When he asked me who I thought would be the ideal person to take a portrait of, I said Mai or Yui. Later he asked me why I liked photographing children. I felt very put on the spot and was surprised with what I came up with. I told him that in the States I worked at a daycare and that I love watching children. Their innocence and energy fascinates me. I told him that I love watching Mai and Yui interact, the way they handle situations when they are sad, happy, tired, whatever. And I said I wanted to capture their spirit. Watanabe sat back and nodded.
Our class is very small, about 10 of us, which is nice because it means Watanabe can be more personal with us. During the class he was asking me about my homestay and what route I take so he could help me find the best place to get supplies. I’m very excited about this class and being able to not only take the pictures I want but improve my skills. In the photography class I took at the community college our projects for critique were assigned. One example was taking pictures of things that represented line, pattern, shape and texture. I love the freedom I’m going to have in this class.
Drawing was about the same as Monday. This time I spent the entire class time drawing just one hand. I posted pictures up of all three drawings if you are interested (unfortunately you can’t really see the shading on the last hand very well, that’s what took me so long). While I was drawing, I also listened to an interesting conversation with the girls at my table. One of them is from the States, she’s planning on transferring to New York next year. She was talking to another girl who lives here and has never been to the States. The girl from the States warned her that it’s very different from here, you can’t walk by yourself at any time of the night. She recounted several times when she’s had to defend herself while in New York and L.A. I almost laughed because she made the States sound super dangerous, like anywhere and anytime you go outside you might be held up at gunpoint or get into a fight. But it is true that Japan is much different. When I walk home from the station it is already well past sundown, but I feel perfectly safe.
After I got home and ate I played with Mai. She has blocks with Hiragana (one of the types of Japanese characters) on them that she loves to play with. She stacks them up like Jenga pieces and sees how high she can make them. We stacked them carefully, making different patterns each time. When we were done we would take it apart block by block. After we grew tired of that game she started stacking them haphazardly. Every time the stack would fall, she would laugh with pure delight. If we were able to stack all the pieces and they didn’t fall, we would toss a ball over the stack until the blocks were knocked over. We played that game for a half hour. When we were done, Ayumi showed me a page that Yui had written for her summer “diary.” On the top she had drawn a picture of Ayumi, her, Mai and me. She had written how happy she was that I am here.
These kinds of memories are ones I’m going to keep with me for the rest of my life. I might forget the funny thing someone said in a class or the lecture a teacher gave. But I will not forget the joy I shared with two precious little girls and their wonderful family.