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My One Big Mistake November 20, 2007

Posted by Mitch in General, Life in Japan.

My house has been invaded. I woke up this morning and went about my morning business: shower, brushing my teeth, checking my emails. I was oblivious to the fact that I had, in a way, been robbed. Burgled whilst asleep by a creature of the night. It was only upon leaving my humble abode that I discovered the intrusion.

I opened my door and was met with the sight of torn open bin bags, scattered rubbish and upset dreams. Having missed the non-burnable rubbish that went out on Friday (Japan separates their rubbish into things that can be burnt and those that can’t), I had stacked the bags outside my front door so as not to make my apartment smell anymore than it does already. That, my friends was my one big mistake.

Even though I never saw the culprit, I know in my heart of hearts who it was that attacked my home. It wasn’t a dog or a cat. It wasn’t even a rat or a fox. No; the thing that scattered my refuse around my front porch was the infamous tanuki.

The translation of tanuki into English is a little misleading, if I’m honest. Apparently, this rather cute (but annoying and rubbish-consuming) critter is a known as a raccoon dog. This is a misnomer just because it looks nothing like a dog and probably shares very little common ground with our faithful friends. Raccoon, I’ll allow, but dog? No. It’s sort of like a cat and a raccoon with a bit of rat thrown in there. It’s Nature’s hodgepodge – an experiment in gene-splicing gone wrong, if you ask me. The Japanese, however, have a tendency to revere them. They’re known for being quite Tanuki - Cute But Deadlyvirile and having rather large testicles. Therefore, there are numerous statues available in the form of a tanuki, complete with oversized balls. I’ve heard tell that these statues have something to do with fertility, but I reckon the Japanese people just want big-bollocked raccoon dogs adorning their homes. A Pottery Statue of a Tanuki

Having cleaned up the rubbish as best I could, I rushed off down to my elementary school. Luckily, this is the one I like and I had a really good day there yesterday. My lessons all worked perfectly as planned and the kids actually learnt something that they could put into practice. Today, however, has turned out to be a little less successful.

I wandered into my 4th grade class today, fully prepared to impart to them the days of the week and the names of the months. When I started off with “In Japanese you say Nichiyōbi and in English we say…” I was cut off by the class saying in chorus “Sunday!” My stomach felt like it dropped out my arse. They knew it all. I went through all 7 days and they knew every single one. No Japanese accent on the words (well, maybe a little, but that’s beside the point). They knew it. I had conversation exercises planned and everything and with one word this class had taken my lesson plan, shat on it, screwed it up and set fire to it in front of me. They didn’t know the names of the months, so I got to teach them that, but my lesson was seriously lacking, if I’m honest. Luckily, I’d anticipated that something may have gone wrong, so I just recapped on the names of some fruit and we played a game that I’ve been playing with the younger ones. So now I’ve got to plan an entire new lesson for the older kids as I have two more classes with them tomorrow. Not really what I wanted to do, but I can’t go in there with nothing. Back to the drawing board it is!

Now all I’m doing is sitting around the staffroom (the warmest place in the school) and wasting time until lunch. After that, I get to go out and play with the kids on the swings and roundabouts etc. and then I’m free till tomorrow! However, when I get in, I do have to plan a new lesson, so I’m not that free. Yes, the staffroom is the warmest place because, ladies and gentlemen, winter is here in Japan. Walking home the other evening, I was shocked at how cold it was, but put it down to it being night and me not wearing a substantial jacket. That night was the first night I’ve slept with a quilt since I got to Kuga. I even went so far as to put another futon on my pile, so I’m further from the floor. When I got in from school yesterday, I slipped on a jumper and slippers. Even this didn’t warm me up, so I dragged out the halogen heater that has been sitting in a cupboard, collecting dust since I got here. I’ve got to say, this is one of the best inventions. It’s like an electric fan. It even spins around, dispelling warmth to all areas of the room. You can set the temperature and sit back and warm up. It’s great! I’m yet to see its impact on my electricity bill, but to be honest I could see me perishing in my apartment without it. I survived the air-conditioning electricity bills, I’m sure I can survive these ones as well! It seems I’m destined to always be paying a lot for electricity here, as I’ve either got my heater or my air-con on!

This weekend I’m off to Osaka and Kyoto, which will be a lot of fun. I’ll also get to see the whale shark that they have at Osaka aquarium. I’ve heard that it’s very impressive, but the enclosure it’s in is way too small for what it contains. But altogether, this weekend will be a lot of fun. I’ll get to meet up with people I haven’t seen for a bit, people I first met at Tokyo Orientation and even new people that I’ve never come into contact with before. It’ll be expensive, but I get paid tomorrow, so what the hell?

Anyway – I’ll leave you all to your own devices now and sign off. Till next time!



1. Tom Lee - November 23, 2007

The Osaka Aquarium is excellent, and well worth a visit. Try the big Ferris wheel, which is next door and Osaka Castle is beautiful and easy to get to by train.
Have a great weekend

2. Wendy Wilson - November 29, 2007

So what about the lesson – at least you had a few hours to prepare new info for them! And keep warm, sod the heating bills!!


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