*Continued warning - Still March, so still slightly shit
Got up early to show Tristan around Obi. Did the actual tourist tour, which I hadn’t realised was available (it being all in Japanese.) There is some amazing stuff hidden away in Obi that I did not even know was here. I had often wondered why, for a Samurai town, they had so little regard for the history (people actually live in the old Samurai housing with their kids and pets and washing lines). Turns out I had walked right past about 3 historical buildings, museums, and even the Shogun’s old house. So we managed to explore all of these, and I slavered over the old uniforms and armour. There were some incredible swords, and even a couple hideous weapons with hooks that made my nerves bundle.
We had a go at the archery, which was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. It was traditional, but not Kyudo, as it wasn’t the full body sized bow. For this one you kneel side-on from the target, and the bow is the same size as you kneeling. It took a bit to get the hang of, the feathers whip past your fingers with incredible speed and nip the skin off of them if you aren’t careful. But I managed to get two bulls eyes! Stoked. The man gave us a piece of Obi cedar each and we continued on.
The tourist tour also included food tokens, which you take to numbered shops and they give you little treaties. It was like a treasure hunt of deliciousness and I managed to find out about a bunch of cool little food-holes in Obi that I didn’t previously know of. All of it was incredibly traditional, rice paste and bean soup, sweet egg roll eaten in Samurai times, bean paste lumps, and sweet tofu sushi rolls. Can’t help but feel like Samurai had sweet tooth. Everywhere we went the TV was on, going over the tsunami disaster and we all chatted about it quietly. It was sobering to see how sad it was making everyone around us.
Tristan headed for home at midday, (he biked down from Saito which is like 50 million kilometres) and I fell asleep. When I woke up I got picked up by Julian, who took me to the city for a fundraiser for NZ (and now
Karaoke, late night (as in, 6am late.) Fell asleep on the floor at Jesses for two hours and then dragged myself back up at 8 to meet my Jodo Sensei at the station for a day of training.
13 - Sunday
Jodo training day. I was so unbelievably tired but it was actually really good just to have to suck it up and go at it. Good for the endurance. During the lunch break I had a sleep in Sensei’s car, and the rest of the day just generally zombied around striking things with my staff.
At the risk of boring my readers with emotional blather I will shorten this entry to the only part of importance, which is that I am going home for a holiday.
16 - Wed
Kimiyo Sensei who I joke with about our “high calorie diet”, Hidaka Sensei who I spend hours looking at postcards with, a favourite gym teacher I booze with, a tall funny teacher who I was going to go fishing with, the nicest art teacher who I love Tohoshinki with, and others are leaving. Every year, teachers are moved around to different schools by the government. Later I find out my principal who I sit with in bars picking my teeth, using superior Japanese, elbowing and cackling with, is also leaving. I am not one to complain about governments, but this news is bad. I struggle.
St Patty’s. Jealous of everyone in NZ who is having beer for breakfast while I am getting ready for a day of work.
After school today, two students were following me at a distance and giggling with each other. I assumed it was something along the lines of “zomg look how foreigners walk” but then they finally cornered me. One of them handed me a white box with my name on it in katakana and cutout silhouettes of sheep. I couldn’t believe it. They were so shy they just smiled and pointed at the sheep. I opened it and inside purple tissue paper was a gorgeous handmade white cup and a handmade inkan (stamp) with an “A” (for Allan) carved into it. One of my students had made it himself. As I examined the cup I had to bite back a smile, because hidden right on the inside was a little carved heart. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and gave them both a hug, which now brings my student hugs up to a total of three. He tittered, said “warm” and they left. It was one of those perfectly timed gestures for which you feel like you can never show enough gratitude, and to keep trying would take away from it (+ weird them out.) I don’t think my students could ever know just how much they do for me.