Tuesday July 13th
Tsurumine High School – Day 2
Today was fantastic! I got up about 7.00am, had breakfast (a couple of rolls with sausage, noodles and miso soup) and then okaasan took Takahito and me to school for 8.25am. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see otoosan at all today, although he phoned in the evening asking if I could come and see his koban (police box) in Tokyo. I would have liked to, but I had to stay with the group. Perhaps if I return to Japan for the 6 month GAP placement I might be able to…
The school is huge! – Bigger than Chatham Grammar or Fort Pitt. Takahito led me to his ‘Home Room’ where I met a few of his fellow students, or rather, they met me! One of the girls, Haruka, came up to talk to me first (I was really getting used to trying to think in Japanese by this point). Every minute or so after that, another one of their friends would come over until I was faced with about five girls and minimal Japanese language and social skills o.O; Arrggh. It all went fairly well though, because they asked most of the questions and the teacher never turned up for the first lesson, so it was good just to have some time talking to the students. In the picture: Haruka, Natsuki, Ton-chan and Yone.
Again, the Japanese proved to be very accommodating. The group in the picture showed me where the vending machine was after the first class, but Takahito came rushing down soon after to remind me the ceremony was about to start. D’oh! So I was bundled off to another room to meet up with the GCSE class again before we went to the main hall for the performances.
The ceremony was very good. It was overwhelming walking into the hall; everybody clapping for us. We had to introduce ourselves on stage first, which was a little nerve-racking. I don’t remember hearing any noise at all when I went on, because I was so focussed on what I had to say, although I’m assured there was. All the Japanese acts were superb and put ours to shame (gymnastics, cheerleaders, singing and a brass band). The French University students put on a performance before ours as well. We sang ‘Sakura, Sakura’, which went quite well. Heather managed to make the song still sound great even being played on the keyboard they provided, instead of a proper piano. The second act, ‘We Will Rock You’ was a laughing disaster. We messed it up three times due to problems with the sound, lyrics and start of the song, and by the time we finally got it right, everyone was too entertained to care, so Chris, Simon and I just sang our hearts out carelessly ^_^;. The whole school joined in the clapping though, so I think they enjoyed it. They replicated the main beat of it stamping on the floor and clapping to it as we exited the hall afterwards, which was cool ^^.After the ceremony, we were picked up by our host brother or sister and taken back to our Home Rooms to have lunch. I had a conversation with some of the boys in my class this time, which was especially good after they discovered that I’d heard of WWF (or WWE as it’s now known) – they had some plastic model of Shaun Michaels as well o.O;. They then tried to tell me something about the guy who sat at the desk next to me. All I gathered was the word ‘Smacku-downu’ and a hitting motion towards the girl that sat in front of this guy ^^;. Hmm…
After lunch, I attended an English class, and then onto another, only the second one was a ‘treasure hunt’ paired up with another Japanese student. We were each given out name cards (mine was Wendy o.O;) and then told to go and meet our partner, who had a name card of their own. Like Harry Potter and Hermione. Any guesses for the paired name for Wendy..? You should get this Chris… Peter Pan. Yep, so anyway, my friend’s name for this class was Natsuki.
I seem to have met a lot of Natsukis during my time in Japan; must be a common name… We went around the school looking for hidden questions (which were really difficult to answer!) and had to be the first ones back to the room with all the correct answers to win. This was good fun, even if we did only get 4/10 correct in the end! :PAt the end of school, we went to our club activities. I had originally put down to do Judo, but since the Kendo club was in the same hall, I decided to do that, with Chris, Simon, Dave and Joe.
This was yet another uniquely Japanese experience, especially when we got to see a demonstration match performed afterwards ^_^.
Okaasan, Takahito and myself watched Ayaka play volleyball for a while before we returned home. We ate dinner (which included ‘unagi’ – an apparently very expensive fish) and then had hanabi (fireworks). There were more of the sparkler variety, and we wrote our names on the tarmac in ash and a few kanji characters.
There were also these strange little fireworks. You light what seems to be a string and hold it as still as possible (quite difficult, considering the breeze) while it burns upwards. As it does so, a little orange ball of hot ash forms, growing bigger and bigger, until it falls off. The game is to see who can keep their miniature molten ball on the string the longest – cool ^_^.
The rest of the evening was more relaxed. I showed Takahito some of the pictures on my camera and then talked with okaasan for a while about religion and the things I’d written in my personal statement. This was very difficult, as I didn’t know most of the words, but I managed to understand at one point that we were discussing that every object or being has a spirit within itself. Okaasan also gave me some presents, which turned out to be some great chopsticks – a pair for each member of my family, a fan and two books, which I think are Japanese poetry, but I’m not sure. I need to get Kushida-sensei to tell me :P. I felt horribly cheap for giving them Boggle as a gift, so I plan to send something else out soon – possibly a book on Kent.I exchanged addresses with Takahito later that night and he also explained the meaning of the school’s emblem to me, which I found very interesting. It kinda puts ours to shame I think :P ‘Tsuru’ means ‘crane’ and ‘mine’ means ‘summit’. The crane is a symbol of long life and good fortune in Japan, so, possibly it means: the peak of prosperity/long life? The logo also consists of 3 cranes, which denote scholastic ability, health and humanity.