18th Had a sore calf but foolishly went to kendo, believing it just needed warming up. I forced my way through the exercises, even though after the very first hop I couldn’t feel it and kept hitting the ladder. (Not a metaphysical one, a real one laid on the ground for us to hop backwards and forwards over). We then did basic attack running back and forth across the dojo, which is actually exhausting and lucid-making for how casual it looks. I left a half hour early, after my sensei called me over for a quick session of pain. My leg was faltering on my way out the door.
19th Can not walk. However, today is Hyaku-Nisshu day (hundred card game) day, so I must be there as I am the guest of honour. At 12pm I am bustled, bullied and bound into a kimono. It takes an hour. Then I am escorted secretly by two students, Chihiro and Michi, to the back of the gymnasium where the students are waiting to begin the ceremony. At 1pm I walk up onto the stage and read the opening lines in Japanese off by heart. The game begins. All the students sit with 100 cards in front of them. A reader begins an ancient poem, and the students snatch up the card which has the rest of the poem written on it. The student with the most cards wins. This is played en masse, until a homeroom wins enough games. It’s an exciting game, and I enjoyed walking around chatting with the students, posing for photos, and laughing at their win/lose reactions. One of them shouts “NAI!!” at me, whenever I see him lose. (meaning, I don’t HAVE!) Realized while I was limping around that I recognise about half the school now. I don’t know all their names but I have favourites and it’s a great feeling. My supervisor sees me in a kimono and gestures grandly, “you are so BEAUTIFUL!!” – you sortof have to know him and his voice for it to be funny. One of my students, Moeko, got him to translate this: “She says she loves you from the bottom of her heart.” Dear GOD. Heart explosion. All the other kids had something to say about my reading or the way I looked, which was really nice. I’m glad I’m so starved for company because it means I value the tiniest words, smallest connections, above anything. Particularly this gem – “In Nichinan, you are most famous.” I love my job. These kids, my god it’s so great just knowing they like me. They never try to pull me down, like so many people do to each other. And even if they did, I would still love them, because I’ve been a student and I understand. I love them really just for being what they are. All people, really, if I feel like extending the understanding. Went to Devon’s, ate two roll cakes.
20th Still cannot walk. Left calf is swollen to double its normal size. I can feel it like a brick when I try to ride my bike. Every time I stand up it has gone stiff again, which means torture and embarrassing staggering every time I need to go to the toilet. After sitting in bed for a bit I tried to get up. Wept. Got up. Tripped on my own sheet and fell over by myself in my apartment. Laughed. Could have been worse. Could have been born without a sense of humour.
21 Still in huge amounts of pain and disability. My leg sits under my desk like its own entity, a thick block of flesh that sometimes flicks in gross pain like someone is routinely tugging on the veins. I have been doing a lot of marking at my desk for the 3rd year students, which is great until I have to get up to take it downstairs. I am loathe to get up from my desk and I plan my days so that I only have to do it once or twice. Anyway, I get down to Kimiyo Sensei’s office, to put the marking on her desk. I am stopped by Totogawa Sensei, who notices my limp. We use Kimiyo’s dictionary to converse, and I explain that the muscle is damaged. He says, “wait a moment” and makes a call in Japanese. Then a menthol heat pack is placed on my desk. He’s the best. 22 Up early, off to Miyakonojo for the World festival. Basically a room with country stalls. It was nice to wander around (slowly, in a grass skirt) and see a bit about where everyone comes from and what they’re about. I got to do an Irish jig to real Irish music but alas my fat black (yes, now bruised from ankle to knee) leg would not agree. There was also a show, with the cutest kids I have ever seen in my entire life ever. They are so small it seems to defy physics that they work at all. Of course we made the usual Foreigner Loud Corner, exclaiming loudly, whistling, yelling at our friends on stage. A few JETs did songs and dances, and I learnt that Sam can sing and play guitar beautifully. I try not to let things like this influence my perceptions of people but I am generally biased in his favour forevermore. When Devon went on stage I heard someone yell “Nichinan!” from across the room. Of course I took up the call. We were the only ones. We are the only ones who live there. While we were packing up, we surrounded Jono and started chanting “haka”. He was bent over talking to a little kid, so I didn’t think he’d do it, then he suddenly whipped around and launched right in while the kid backed away in terror behind him. It was amazing and slightly disconcerting, which is the way it’s supposed to be. Everyone was astounded and it went down fantastically.
After this I went and ate tomato ramen with the girls (noodles with tomato soup, how have we never thought of this). It tasted really nostalgic, and I just realized now as I type this a few months later that it’s because it’s the SAME CONCEPT AS SPAGHETTI WOAH. We then went for a chillaxed wine and girl conversation that cannot be repeated on a blog but was highly entertaining. Then everyone else arrived and we danced and went out, where I drank all the banana milk that the bar had to offer because it was delicious. Jackie and I snuck upstairs to another bar to have a drink (even though we were participating in a nomikai – all you can drink downstairs) and talk to the bartenders who were lovely and gave us cigarettes that I did not particularly want but the thought was nice. We had great dictionary fun with them, to the point where we considered getting two nomi deals, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. We eventually saw the folly of our ways and went back downstairs. The toilet was so gross that it was somewhat reassuring, to know that even Japanese bar bathrooms are cesspits by the end of a night. We met some new foreigners which was wildly exciting because I wasn’t sure there was such a thing, some giant basketball players from Chicago wearing White Sox caps. Of course I had to know them. It was cool to hangout and they laughed at me when I said “bro” because it’s so different from a small white girl and in a NZ accent. Their car made me laugh my ass off (lmao, I guess) because it was tiny and they had to fold into it to take us “back to the mansion” which turned out to be a Japanese food place that is open at ridiculous hours of the morning for “breakfast” which is meat on rice.
23 Off to a see a beautiful waterfall with Sam and the others. I still couldn’t walk well so I had assistance getting up and down stairs like a little old lady. We explored some giant potholes formed naturally of stone by the river running underneath them, which was cool. Then we ate potato flavoured ice cream, which was delicious.