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And I Am Telling You I’m Not Running September 9, 2007

Posted by Mitch in General, Life in Japan.
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Today heralded the Kuga Olympics. The day started badly before Sunday even rolled round – the fact that I had to work on the weekend just before doing an entire week of teaching at primary schools put me in a bit of a mood. Especially as the rest of my base school get the next two days off as compensation, but I am afforded no such luxury. The day itself also started less than auspiciously when I was woken at 6am by four fireworks being set off in quick succession. Needless to say I wasn’t all that happy. However, I dragged myself along to the school for 8am and was ushered to my place in the teacher’s tent. I wandered around a bit and took some photos and then the ceremony started at 9am. There were far too many processions and speeches, but this is Japan. There’s a lot of tradition and so after being greeted by the Principal, some of the students, the Principal’s mum, her best friend and the man who lives down the street, some races actually took place. It was pretty much bog-standard sports day fare. There were relays. There were 100m sprints. Then there were other rather off-the-wall additions such as the girls’ tyre drag where the two teams ran at each other screaming, grabbed a tyre and then tried to drag said tyre back to their side, with the girls from the other team. The guys then had a game that looked like it could only end in tears and perhaps a broken nose or three. There were two 8 foot poles held up at either end of the field (when I say field I mean gravelly, sandy pitch) with flags in the top. Basically, the red team had to rush at the white team’s pole and get their flag out of the top and vice versa. Getting to the top of these poles consisted of running with such velocity, that you could easily spring onto one of the guardian’s of the pole’s heads and shoulders in order to shimmy up and grab the flag. Surprisingly, no one died and I didn’t see anyone with blood flowing profusely from any orifice, so I’m thinking it was a success. Then there were some gymnastic displays and a rather bizarre thing where some of the teachers were dressed up as famous Japanese characters and then forced to perform pre-prepared skits. I was told that last year it took 40 minutes and so everyone was hoping that it would be a bit more of a success this time round. Well, it didn’t take that long, but it was just a little odd, to tell you the truth.

All in all, I had a really enjoyable day. For most of it was sat under a tent, but without liquid it got a little hard at times. However, it was nice to see all the kids in one place and think “I’m going to be teaching you at some point soon”. Also, half of Kuga turned out to watch the kids and loads of other tents were set up so parents and other family members could sit round and watch their kids race. Everyone brought a picnic and all sat together with some members of the PTA selling shaved ice and other things in order to raise a ridiculous amount of money to fix the school clock (I think they should be putting it towards an air conditioner fund, but hey; what do I know?).

The title refers to my reaction when asked if I wanted to compete. Now, I was told that the other teachers were going to be racing with the kids and that I should join in, but I never actually saw any other teachers involved, so am glad that I declined. Let’s face it; I don’t run when I’m in England and the temperature is tolerable. I’m not about to run in this heat! They also tried to cajole me into taking part in the communal game of trying to throw balls into nets. I think they were kind of upset that I didn’t take part, but to be honest, I don’t want them thinking that they can suggest something and I’ll do it. So far, I’ve done everything they’ve wanted of me that hasn’t been work related (of course, when they ask me to do stuff for school, I do it, seeing as I’m being paid and everything) so I’m not too bothered. I suppose it wouldn’t have hurt me to take part, but then again it might have. There were no less than 4 children who collapsed, one of whom had to be stretchered off. Someone also hit the deck during one of the gymnastic displays but none of the teachers really seemed to care. Someone went and helped him, but none of the others even raised an eyebrow!

In other news, I am now the proud owner of a sexy new external hard drive. I was going to go wild and get the 120GB one, but when I got to the shop, they only had the 250GB one, so I had to ‘settle’ for that. Am slowly trying to fill it up and am downloading pretty much 24/7.

I’ve been invited out to a teacher’s drinking party tonight. I think that it’s going to take the place of my enkai (welcome party). Seeing as I thought I wasn’t going to get one, I’ve decided to tag along and spend an evening talking English to the English teachers and nodding at incomprehensible Japanese. Fun! Then I’m up early for my first day of proper teaching where I have to run the class, I’ve had to plan the class, and from the sounds of it, will have little to no help from the actual teacher. Be prepared for some more updates regarding that!

Till next time!

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