It's the start of teh new school year in Japan, with all of the accompanying cermonies, meetings, parties, gifts, and whatnot. There's plenty of ceremony, lots of coming and goings with the other teachers, but without classes, things can be a bit dull. But with all the farwell parties for the old teachers who left, the welcoming parties for all the new teachers that are coming in, year-end parties with the PTA, along with getting ready for the new junior high schoolers, it can stay busy. One thing is the teachers are moved around to different schools quite regularly. I know that growing up in the States, there would always be some teachers who had been at your school for decades (you all can remember a few I'm sure). But here, the longest that I have heard of is a six year stay, and most seem to be for three years or less. This is all decided by the board of education, and the teachers themselves do not appear to have much say in the matter. And for the "Part-time" teachers, they can pretty much expect to be moved about every year (if they are lucky enough to retain employment, that is).
I know it has been awhile since I have written anything. A lot of it has to do with the cold. I just don't feel like typing when my fingers are all numb. Well, now it's April, but things still seem to be a bit cool, and there have been several rainy days recently that haven't helped with the temperature. Now I know very soon I will be complaining non-stop about the bugs and humidity, but I don't remember it staying this cool for this long last year.
So, what have I been doing? A lot, but maybe not as much as you would think. February brought one of my bigger trips of late, as I went to see The Police play their reunion tour at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka. This was actually my first time in Osaka, and while I didn't spend enough time there to get a real feel for the place, it seems alright. I took the overnight ferry from Beppu, which was actually quite reasonable, and after a long, long day of walking around Osaka, I went to the concert with some other Oita folks. Now, I thought possibly this would just be a cash-in tour for the Police (and the tickets certainly weren't cheap), but they did a great show, and 60-something guitarist Andy Summers ripped it on guitar. It had all the bells and whistles that you'd expect in such a major concert, but that said, the Kyocera Dome is just too big for any concert, in my opinion. That, and the "No Jumping" signs posted everywhere, detracted from the experience just a little bit.
So that was all well and good, and then late in March, I went to Kagoshima with some of the other teachers at school. Kagoshima is way down in the south of Japan, and I had never been there before so it was pretty cool to go. We enjoyed some of the various geological features of the area, first by going to see a big, semi-active volcano, and then trying hot sand baths on the beach. We also ate way more food than anyone in their right mind should, thanks to the hotel buffet dinner and breakfast.
Also on the food front, my birthday came and went in March. Another year gone by already. Again this year, Mishiro sensei was nice enough to take me and a few teachers out for a birthday dinner, this time a nice yakiniku joint in town. And Zack and Ryan, two other ALTs in the area, got me gift cards that can be used at one of my favorite places in Japan, convenience stores. Lawsons, Family Mart, Everyone… it’s all good.
But things aren’t always so great having a bunch of teachers around all of the time. One night, after a PTA party in Ono, I offered to put up a few teachers in my apartment for the night. This was after I warned them repeatedly about the sorry conditions of my room mind you, but still they were surprised by just how filthy it was. I didn’t expect guests that night, and my room is never that clean to begin with, thanks to the wonderful bachelor lifestyle I am living in, but it was still particularly bad that night. Well anyway, word got around school about how messed up my room is, and I really heard about it for a while. Guess I’m Mr. Messy Room foreigner. I did throw a bunch of stuff out, trying to clean and organize, and while things are better than that particular nadir, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
And I had been thinking about this for awhile, but I finally decided to man up and buy an LCD TV, a Toshiba Regza. It’s not very big at all, only 19 inches, but I don’t need anything bigger than that really. Having high definition is a real step up in my view, and it’s been great for the Xbox 360 and for watching movies, but I haven’t bothered to move up my TV signal yet… not sure if I want to spend the money that way. But if I can get NHK and some of the basic channels inexpensively, I might go that way.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I’ve been playing Halo 3 online with my good buddy Chris who is back in America. Due to the time difference, game sessions are pretty much limited to Saturdays or Sundays, but it’s fun to get together and shoot the bull over voice chat as much as actually playing the game. Win or lose, it’s a good time (seems like more lose than win recently, but that’s how it is sometimes). And here in Japan, Raiden Fighters Aces was just released. It’s a compilation of the three Raiden Fighers arcade shooting games, released for the first time on home consoles. I used to play Raiden Fighters Jet during class breaks at RCCC, so it’s cool to be able to enjoy it again. Plus, the game comes with a Super Play DVD showing all of the game’s secrets, which is a nice bonus..
Also, although my car starts just fine now and has stopped making loud, annoying noises, at some point it has started to leak antifreeze/coolant at a pretty decent rate. I know this because I can smell it just about any time I drive the car for longer than 15 minutes. I’ve been to the mechanic twice, and he can’t seem to figure it out, although we tried replacing the radiator cap to no great effect. My theory is that the coolant is leaking only when the car is in motion, if the car is just sitting idle, the fluid won’t leak out in the same way. Just a hypothesis. For now, all I can do is keep a jug of antifreeze in the car with me and top it off from time to time. Not so great, but better than ending up with a junked engine.
Well, that’s all for now, if I can think of anything else I will be sure to post it up!