That's right, we had classes yesterday, Sunday July the 8th. Why? It was PTA day, so a lot of the parents came to school to observe classes and have meetings. There was also a guest speaker, another foreigner who lives in Oita, and his Japanese was really, really good so I was pretty jealous. Then I learned he has lived in Japan for the past 18 years, and I didn't feel so bad. But the meeting just dragged on and on, and coupled with the fact that it was supposed to be a weekend day, it didn't put me in the best mood. In the evening though, the 3rd year students and their parents had a yakiniku BBQ and fireworks, so that was nice. But because Japan really doesn't have that Judeo-Christian tradition, there is no rule about resting on a Sunday, or going to church on Sunday, so that opened up the chance for school. Monday, today, is a makeup weekend day, so we still get our two weekend days, but for the first time in my life, I went to school on Sunday.
The weekend before that, I finally made it over to Fukuoka to watch a baseball game, something that I had wanted to do since I arrived here 11 months ago. While I am glad that I got to go, I'm not sure what it is with me and Japanese baseball games, as this one ran over 4 hours and 30 minutes (compared to the marathon 5 hour, 40 minute Yokohama Baystars game I attended). Despite a couple of exciting rallies by the Hawks in the 8th and 9th innings, the game still ended up a tie after 12. Try seeing that in Major League Baseball. Afterwards, we hit up a couple of spots around town, at one tiny bar, the bartender played some magic and card tricks for us, which was pretty neat. Ended up that we stayed out all night and just caught the first train back on Sunday morning. Needless to say I was pretty exhausted.
This week has been non-stop, torrential rain. We got a bunch of Flood Warnings on the TV, and some of the train lines breifly shut down as well. Elsewhere in Kyushu, there have been mudslides, fatalities, and all of that. In Kumamoto, the JSDF had to be called in to rescue residents of a small town whose bridges had washed out. As I type this it is raining pretty hard even now. All the playing fields have turned into mush, which rules soccer and baseball out of the question. Even though I want to complain about the everyday gloom, I am glad that it is keeping temperatures down.
In another purely slef-referential moment, I started growing out a beard again. It's an "Abe Lincoln" (just like ol' Honest Abe) and I got it because I became tired of shaving over a couple of days, looked in the mirror, and decided, "Hey well I'll give it a shot".
It's been interesting to see everyone's reactions. Some of the students like it, some of them don't, but they all say 'Hige'(beard, mustache) when they notice it for the first time. Most of the boy students tend to like it, seeing as how they are about 13 years old, and to them facial hair is the coolest thing. Some of the students try to touch it as well, but when you're a foreign teacher in rural Japan, you're used to kids touching your hair and stuff like that, so it's no big deal. As for the other teachers, most of them have been complimentary, but as it is with workplace relations here, you can never really tell if they are just being polite when they say it. So this little decision to grow out some facial hair has proven to be quite the socialogical experiment in Japanese schools.