Now it's Obon season in Japan, a holiday where everyone returns home and has various ceremonies for their deceased family members. Its not quite a national holiday though, so schools, post offices, etc. are still nominally open. So that means into work for me, with only the vice principal and maybe one or two other teachers showing up. Everyone else is at home though, meaning that shops, restaurants, and barbers are all closed. So its a bit of an inconvenience, never mind the colossal traffic jams that happen when everyone returns to city residences. Fortunately, there was one lady at the grocery store today, so I could grab lunch.
It's not so bad, you have the whole day at school to do pretty much whatever in a well air-conditioned room, so I just studied Japanese and read Wikipedia all day. You can come in a little late and leave a little early, so thats not too bad either.
Also the big national high school baseball tournament is ongoing now, called Koshien after the stadium it is played in, and it is no exaggeration to say that it is the biggest sporting event of the year. Every region in Japan is represented on National TV, in a single-elimination tournament, so the stakes could not be higher. Heroes can be made (most famously Dice-K Matsuzaka) and pro contracts all but guaranteed over the course of a few games. The Oita team won a game for the first time in six years this week and it was literally front-page news. I'd really like to go next year to see all the craziness for myself, but I have no idea about getting tickets, accomodation, etc.
Twice in the past two weeks I've gone swimming in some of the pristine local rivers here in the countryside, and afterwards a bunch of people had yakiniku on the river banks. Its a great way to spend the hot summer days, just as long as you watch out for the rocks and the sunburn.
Finally, I went to an English seminar camp for high school kids in Yufuin last week. Now normally I'm a junior high school teacher, so I think they only called for me in a pinch when they were running low on instructors, but I had a good time. The kids were all really good at English and fun to be around. Now Yufuin is probably one of the most picturesque areas in Japan, but unfortunately we spent almost all of our times indoors doing various English-related activities, with Yufuin's great mountains only serving as window dressing. You can't have everything. But like I said everyone was really sharp, the students and instructors all had a good attitude, and there were some fierce Othello games to boot. So even though I was exhausted and sick of eating Japanese-style breakfast, overall it was fun.