I’m currently enjoying a four day weekend because tomorrow (Monday) is National Sports Day. Can I just say I love it that Japan has a day for sports? It’s no wonder that they don’t have an obesity problem here (it also helps that they don’t eat really greasy foods and they walk everywhere).
Even though I normally don’t go to school on Tuesdays, I went to pick up my draft for a paper in Gender and print out my pictures. I got home right after Ayumi left for Mai’s English class so I was locked out for about two hours. At first I tried doing homework but the mosquitoes kept eating me so I decided to go for a walk. I walked around the area for about an hour and a half. Whenever I came to an intersection, I just went in whatever direction looked interesting to me. I passed a lot of factories and stopped at a McDonald on the way back (don’t worry, I got something healthy, the berry yogurt). It was nice to just walk and see different parts of Koshigaya that I hadn’t seen before. (I also took pictures, some of which I’ve uploaded.)
Wednesday was our second critique in Photography but it took so long to get through four people’s pictures that they didn’t get to mine. I also had a presentation in Art History though I wasn’t nervous at all, in fact I was looking forward to it. My presentation was on the Greek goddess Athena and I basically just showed six pictures, explained them and Athena’s importance and it took about three minutes. Our presentations were only supposed to be about that long since we have so many people in class and our midterm is next Wednesday. Everyone took longer than they were supposed to so we weren’t able to get to our midterm review.
In Gender we’re talking about the Middle Ages and Christianity since it was the main religion of the time. We first discussed Genesis 1 and 3 when God created Eve and she fell under the temptation of the serpent. The teacher then said that from this came the idea that “women is the root of evil, that she represents temptation, she is the victim of her appetite, and she is the mother of the dead.” I asked her who came up with this idea, if it was from the Bible or from people in the Middle Ages. She had mentioned the Apostle Paul and I was unsure if she was saying he came up with the idea and I wanted to make sure that’s not what she was saying. She told me that clergy of the Middle Ages used this to dissuade any relationships with women since they were expected to practice celibacy. On Friday we talked about Deborah the judge and Samson and Delilah. It’s been frustrating at times talking about the Bible, especially when people talk about the “Creation myth” or when they say that man wrote the Bible to justify his ideas. But it’s also been a good opportunity to tell people about my beliefs and maybe get them thinking in a different direction (I hope). I also learned something new about Samson through a discussion we had about why he finally told Delilah the secret of his strength. It’s definitely been a growing time.
Thursday I went with Ayumi and the girls to a crepe party at Ayumi’s friend’s house. I thought we were all going to make them but it turned out that Yuba-san made them and we just ate them. We had the strangest things to put in them: avocado, orange wedges, peanut butter, whipped cream, soy sauce, chocolate sauce. The first one I made was normal (in retrospect), sliced ham, cheese, mayo and peanut butter. I made another one with peanut butter, whipped cream, orange wedges and chocolate sauce. They were all really good but I was full very quickly from all the sugar. I’d have to say it was the strangest dinner I’ve had (later we had normal Japanese soup but the crepes were the main course). After I played a few games with all the girls (Yuba-san has two daughters as well) including musical chairs. We had a good time and didn’t get home until about 9 pm.
Friday I finally turned in my paper for Gender. It’s such a relief to not worry about it any more. I was super nervous about my critique because he had been pretty harsh with some of the people and I was afraid that since I have no real theme with my pictures I was going to get pounded. He ended up being really nice to me and suggested that I focus on Ayumi for my next critique. It’s exciting to finally have a focus instead of just shooting whatever I think looks good and hoping that it’ll cut it. And I’m anxious to see what comes of it. I also decided to go on the Sapporo (in Hokkaido, the northern most main island) trip with my Photography class and I was able to pay Shinya on Friday with the money left over from my loan. We’ll leave Friday, November 10 after my Gender class and we come back Saturday, November 11 at 9pm. There’s supposed to be a film festival going on while we’re there and I guess there’s really good sushi there as well. I’m really excited about being able to see more of Japan.
Also on Friday we had rain all day. A typhoon has been moving close to Japan and the weather has been quite screwy lately. Fortunately Ayumi drove me to the station so I didn’t have to walk in the rain. She forgot to tell me to call her when I got back so she could pick me up. I ended up walking the ten minutes from the station to my house and almost lost my umbrella several times because of the wind. I actually had to stop at one point because walking against the wind was just too much. When I finally got home my pants were soaked and my hair was wild. I loved it (and I’ve uploaded pictures of my soaked pants).
Today (Sunday) Mai’s school had their Field day (or Sports day) where children from different kindergartens do relay races and dances for their parents and relatives. There were several races that the parents do with their children and Ayumi signed me up because she said she’s not athletic at all. She figured I would be able to keep up with Mai better (she’s probably right). We got to the school at 9 and didn’t leave until 3. I participated in three events the first and last being adults only, the second one I did with Mai. It was a lot of fun but it was also a very windy day and the sand got everywhere.
Ayumi and I went to another chatting meeting and this time there were people from Germany (though I didn’t talk with any of them), Malaysia, England and the Netherlands. I started out at the table with two men from Malaysia and both of them spoke English really well. One man was a teacher for martial arts and he was very energetic when he spoke, it was kind of overwhelming. The leader of the meeting asked me to move since there were other people who wanted to practice their English. I ended up at a table with Ayumi and a man from England. A man from China joined us and we laughed at the diversity represented. It was so amazing to talk about our different cultures and languages. After a little while the Chinese man had to leave but the English man Bryn, Ayumi and I talked about the difficulties of learning a new language and the two of us explained to Ayumi the strange parts of the English language. We were interrupted when the leader of the meeting shushed everyone because one of the men from Malaysia was going to sing for us. After he sang some of the Japanese men and women sang a Japanese song for us. They wanted an English song as well so eventually Bryn decided on “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” They turned it into a contest by splitting the room up and singing in rounds. Each group tried to sing louder than the other and surprisingly it went over quite well. It’s a bummer that the meetings don’t happen every week (only once a month depending on how many foreigners there are at the international guest house).
Since we have a four day weekend at school Steph and I decided we would go to the movies on Tuesday night. Candice told me last Sunday that most theaters have “Ladies Night Out” on Tuesday nights and the tickets are half price (which basically means they’re about $10). I don’t know what we’re going to see or even if we’ll be able to see anything. I stayed up until midnight last night trying to find a good English website for movies in Japan.
Anyway, it’s been another eventful week and we’re about half way through the semester. My family’s still wonderful, probably even more so as I get to know them more. Obviously there’s been rough days but then another day comes and it’s a new start. I know every day is a blessing but it’s been easier to see since I’ve been here.