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I’ll Show You A Thing Or Two March 18, 2008

Posted by Mitch in Life in Japan.

I’ve eaten weird things since I got here. I mean, not that weird. There are horror stories about drinking blood in some places in Japan and I’ve not done anything like that. But I have eaten whale. I’ve eaten poisonous blowfish. And today I ate hijiki. This is a type of seaweed that apparently contains an incredible amount of inorganic arsenic and the British government has warned its citizens not to eat it too regularly. This was my first time with the offending item and so I’m probably not going to die or develop cancer any time soon, but I think I’ll avoid it if presented a plate of it at a later date. That said, when I told my teachers they told me not to worry and that it was, in fact, very nutritious. And will kill you, but I shouldn’t focus on that too much.

My kids are getting more confident talking to me in English. I asked one of them how he was today and he looked at me and said “I’m sleepy. I want to die”. Then, as I left the lunch room and kid cornered me and whispered in my ear “Do you like sex?” I refused to answer and asked him the same question to which he replied an indignant “No!” Given that he’s about 14, I suppose he’s probably just getting over the whole I-hate-girls thing. He also asked me if I liked “bus”. When I looked at him, confused, he pointed about nipple height and said “Bus. Bus.” I left, shaking my head. Later on he asked me if I wanted sex to which I replied “Not now, thanks”. This is the first instance of this, and something tells me that this kind of questioning is going to continue. Oh well – bring it on. I’m sure I have stories that could make their hair curl…

I’ve just got back from playing in the class match. Every so often, towards the end of a term, the boys and girls of each class go head to head at a certain sport. Today, the boys were playing softball. I was told I would be playing too. Having never played softball or baseball or the like ever (I’m not sure that rounders is entirely the same) I was more than a little apprehensive. Some of the kids threw a ball around for me to practise catching with the glove and then I was on my way. On the teachers’ team. With all the sporty, athletic PE teachers whom I used to despise when I was at school. One thing I should just add in now. It was kind of overcast, but sunny enough that the sand that covered the pitch was really bright and I couldn’t stop squinting and because I couldn’t stop squinting, my eyes kept watering. Luckily, I had anticipated this and brought along my sunglasses. When I put these on they were met with laughs, but mainly exclamations of “カッコイイ” (kakkoi), which means cool. There were also comments on the hairlessness of my arms. Not that I understood them, but I know for a fact that one of the PE teachers joined in the speculation. Luckily, he was the first up and was bowled out. Ha! Look at me using cricket terms. Basically, he had one too many strikes and was expelled. Then, some arsehole decided it would be great fun to put Mitchi-sensei up next. So I grabbed the rather heavy metal bat and headed over and stood on the white thing on the floor. Wrong! That’s the base and you’re not supposed to stand on that. I sheepishly edged off it and raised my bat in preparation. I knew I wasn’t going to last long against these kids, baseball being one of the new national sports of Japan. The kid who was pitching (almost wrote bowling!) is a little shit in my classes and so I expected trouble. I glared at him, knowing that he couldn’t see my eyes through my sunglasses. He threw. I swung. I hit! The first hit of the game was the tubby foreigner who was new to the game. I ran for first base. I reached first base. There were a couple of laughs, probably at my ungainly, girlish run, but I made it. There was a moment of silence where I worried that I had done something wrong and actually now my team would be forced to commit seppuku, but no. It was fine! The next teacher up hit it, so I legged it to the next base. This malarkey is easy, I thought. The next teacher got caught out (it’s called a fly ball) and so we swapped with the other team. This was where I was going to have to prove my mettle. Fielding, pitching, whatever, is not really my strong point, me having the upper body strength of a paraplegic. Also, it was at that time that I noticed that my left shoulder had completely seized up, the bat being kind of heavy and me not being used to strenuous activity round about there. I ran into the outfield and hoped that the ball would miss me. It did and so everything was fine.

The rest of the game passed relatively easily. I got to bat twice and managed to hit it both times, but the second time, I was beaten to first base, thus being the first person out. The next teacher got caught out and so we ended up losing, but all in all it was quite fun. The teachers and students seemed really pleased that I had joined in (I missed the last ones because I was at elementary school). That said, the next ones will be in July and they won’t be pretty, if I have to take part. There’ll be sweating. There’ll be swearing. There’ll be a red faced gaijin running around the school. But it’ll be a nice way to say goodbye to the kids.

Till next time!



1. Lucy - March 28, 2008

… ‘nice way to say goodbye’…

I can’t believe how quickly the time’s gone, Mitch – not long ’til we get you back in Blighty… woo! x

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