(Originally written: Friday, September 27, 2013)
What a busy week it’s been!
Last weekend was a three-day weekend, but it was also the city-wide sports tournament; so, on Saturday, I took the train to watch my school’s soccer team play in their first round game. Funny enough, my brother is a soccer player (and a good one at that!), but when I was home, I never went to see any of his games. I guess being away from home is making me reach out to any and all connections that I have with home – including watching a soccer game! It actually turned out to be a great afternoon – my school’s team won with a goal scored in the last 5 minutes of play! I sat with some of the parents from my school and we enjoyed the beautiful weather and exciting soccer together. When I leave Japan and go home, I want to start going to my brother’s soccer games.
One interesting fact about soccer in Japan: I don’t know if this applies to all levels of soccer, but the JHS teams bow before starting the game and bow again at the end of the game. They even bow and say “thank you” to the other team’s coach! That’s Japanese culture for you.
I got my first hair cut in Japan on Saturday, too, which you can read about HERE. I had a wonderful experience!
I spent Saturday night with other ALTs as we celebrated C’s birthday with a sushi dinner and karaoke party. It was so much fun!
Sunday was a real day off, so B and I took the afternoon to visit a park in my city. The views were gorgeous and we took our time wandering around and taking pictures. We even visited a museum within the park and ended up staying there for over two hours as the curator spoke English pretty well and wanted to talk with us.
We had a delicious supper at a katsudon restaurant and then I went home to Skype with my family. I haven’t talked to them as often as I like – the twelve hour time difference is proving to be more troublesome than I first anticipated. I made tea biscuits and listened to some radio from home, then called it an early night.
Monday was Shuubun no Hi (Autumnal Equinox Day) and thus was a holiday from school! C and S picked me up and together we drove to a mall in Akita City. We had a quick lunch (real pizza!) and then shopped for a few hours. We found a stationary store and an import store – the import store even had microwave popcorn and orange pekoe tea! I was so excited. After a quick stop at Starbucks, we headed back home.
Because it was early and it was such a beautiful day, I wanted to explore my neighbourhood. I knew there was a set of steep, stone stairs near my house and, knowing that these usually lead to a shrine, I wanted to check it out. 200 steps later, I didn’t find a shrine, but I did find this amazing view:
Being brave, I wandered off the main path and walked along a narrow ridge. My heart was pounding (it is REALLY HIGH!), but wow, did it ever pay off!
I even got to hear the 5 o’clock city chimes!
I then climbed back down from the ledge and proceeded to watch the sun set over the Sea of Japan. What a great day. <3
On Tuesday (a day off school for “working” at the sports competition on Saturday), I took the train back to Akita City by myself to do some shopping at a furniture store called Nitori. For those who don’t know, Nitori is Japan’s answer to Ikea (from what I’ve heard, anyway – Newfoundland doesn’t have an Ikea, so I’ve never been to one!). Armed with my cell phone and my rudimentary, not-to-scale, drawing of my apartment, I shopped for furniture for over three hours. I texted Mom the entire time, sending her pictures of different items of furniture. I don’t know how I would have done it without her help! We picked out all of the items that I needed to buy – new bedding, a couch, a kitchen table, chairs, night stand, mirror… Unfortunately, because I had to get the train back to my city, I couldn’t carry very much, but I plan on ordering the large pieces online soon. I can’t wait until my apartment really feels like a home and not like a bare rectangle!
Wednesday, Thursday, and today have all brought long days at school. A combination of changed schedules (shorter 45 minute classes instead of 50, the cancellation of classes, and the elimination of all the 6th periods) and PMS have made the days drag on, as I have always finished classes at lunchtime and have then had 3.5 hours of time to kill. Usually I wouldn’t mind the free time – I’m always up for relaxing at my desk! – but I’m so tired and so filled with PMS that I just want to go home and sleep. I actually brought in some of my precious orange pekoe tea and part of my emergency chocolate stash to keep me awake throughout the afternoons. Unfortunately, it’s not really working… Blah. I need energyyyy.
My after school activities have been great, though. Wednesday, I had my first kyudo (Japanese archery) lesson! It was amazing, and I will definitely have a full blog entry on it later. Thursday was Mexican movie night with other ALTs. I brought fajitas (“The only thing weird would be if someone didn’t like Mexican food because I’m making FAJITAS!”) and we pigged out on chocolate while watching She’s All That, a cheesy, amazing 90’s movie. Such a great night! I’m glad we’ve decided to make it a weekly thing!
Tonight, I have my Japanese language course, for which I haven’t studied – oops. I was trying to study this afternoon, but I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to get through any of it. Not good! (Especially because it’s only 2:10pm and I still have two more hours of school left before I can go home.) I have school again tomorrow and Sunday as we prepare for and then host our school festival, but I will have Monday and Tuesday off next week to make up for working the weekend. I’m soooo looking forward to Monday and Tuesday! Sleeeepppp.
Anyway. That’s enough from me for now. I should really get back to trying to study Japanese. Hopefully I don’t fall asleep…!