OK, so it's been quite a long time since I blogged. All I can say is, sorry about that. In a weird way that totally snuck up on me, I've actually been really busy recently. I guess that is a familiar refrain by now but I haven't had enough time to just sit and type on the computer for awhile. In fact it's been so long since I've blogged I needed to check my previous entry to know when to start.
It's been over two months here and I'm starting to get more and more adjusted to life in Oita. Teaching isn't too much of a problem normally, I'm just trying to make sure that the classes stay interesting. I've made a couple of more trips to the elementary school, which again is quite challenging at times. But again, over the students are great fun to be with and makes the work worthwhile. The sports schedules are winding down, so I've got a little more free time, but not a lot more. I've also met a few more of the other local JETs, which is nice. My foreigner contact is still pretty limited though out here in the country. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Anyways, on to what I've been doing. Last weekend ended up being pretty crazy without it being planned that way. Saturday at 9 am I get a phone call from Mishiro-sensei inviting me to go fishing. Well, it was a nice day so I said sure. First, though, was a "peace" march of sorts, protesting against new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's proposals to reform the education system. OK so I was kind of conned into this one, but if you know about Japan's history, a more "patriotic" (ie nationalist) education system only led the country down a dark path, so I didn't mind participating at all. Then we stopped by a cool limestone cave, and went fishing. Unfortunately conditions weren't ideal, and I didn't have much of a clue what I was doing, but I did manage to catch one decent sized fish. So hooray for me.
The next day, I went to see TAO, which is a fairly famous Taiko drumming group. It's not your traditional drumming performance, it's definitely more "modernized" and the speed of precision of the drummers is impressive. There was fireworks too which is always nice, although it was bitterly cold in the evening, and I didn't dress very warmly at all.
Well that wasn't too bad compared to what the students were doing. Some one thought it would be a great idea for the students to walk 42 kilometers (marathon distance) from Oita City to Ono Town. I guess it is tradition but I can't say I approve of that, just seems a little too dangerous to me. Now exercise is good, and there was constant teacher and parent support, but still. I have to give it to the students, almost all of them that started made it. It took the last group about 11 hours though. Every one who finished received a certificate and a hot bowl of udon soup. I'm sure if I stay, I will end up participating next year. Hope I have some good walking shoes.
Also, a couple of weeks back I saw Honda's humaniod robot ASIMO in Beppu. It's an impressive machine, although I was surprised by how small it is (4 feet or so). It can walk on two legs, stand on one, dance, has five movable fingers, talk, recoginize objects, kick, run (to a limited extent), lift stuff, etc. Like I said, very impressive, but also kind of creepy. ASIMO's movements were so smooth, it was really weird to see it coming from a robot. Having a bunch of those around will definitely take some getting used to.
It is starting to get cooler here, but still pretty warm during the day. October is a very nice time to be in this part of Japan, the weather is pretty much always perfect, but you can definitely tell that fall is on the way. Yesterday I dropped some pretty good money on fall clothes, but it's really important to dress warmly since Japanese homes can get really, really, cold.
Also on the docket, it's about time that I put up some pictures. I promise that will happen soon, and everyone will love the pictures. I should have some mountain hiking pictures, sports festival pictures, Asimo pictures, and some other random stuff up as well.