Alright…lots to catch up on and not a lot of time to do so. Last Friday was a pretty fun day at school. I ate lunch with the second graders at the JHS. I started off not really liking my second graders, but as the year (especially this semester) has progressed, I have really started to like them. There’s one boy in the class who tells me “oh, sleepy sleepy” every time he sees me. Another kid calls me “crazy boy,” and I call him “crazy girl.” There’s another boy who is “crazy kangaroo” and another is “koala punch.” Anyway, I try to talk to my students at lunch, but I often get blank looks in return. I can always tell when they don’t understand me. They have this empty look in their eyes, slightly glance at their neighbor to see if he or she understands, and nod as if they completely understand me. I can’t blame them. I do the same thing. If I don’t understand something, generally a smile and a nod gets me out of whatever…..even if it’s not the response the speaker wanted.
A really sad thing happened at lunch that day. Students here are forced to finish their lunch. They eat EVERY grain of rice, and there is NO such thing as wasting food. If they don’t like something, ie the cucumbers in the salad, they pawn them off to their friends, but ABSOLUTELY NO FOOD GOES IN THE TRASH. I’ve seen them choke down some horribly looking things. When I ask what some of the mysterious/questionable food is, I’m not sure if it’s that they don’t know the word in English or that they honestly have no idea what they’re eating, but they’ll shrug their shoulders and continue to eat. I felt really bad for one of the girls on Friday. I could tell that she was having a hard time getting down whatever it was for lunch. It didn’t look terribly offensive, but I don’t know. She was seriously gagging on it. Her eyes were watering, and she even left to use the bathroom. I’m pretty sure she threw up, but when she returned, she HAD to finish her plate, so she continued to slowly but surely eat away. It was like watching an episode of Fear Factor. I wanted to offer to take the food from her and put it in my lunch box to throw away later. Who cares if I get in trouble? I’m the foreigner!
Friday night, we went to Justine’s for okonomiyaki and spent the night. She has a big flat grill that she’s been wanting to use for okonomiyaki, so we took her up on her offer. We made one HUGE one that required all three of us to flip it. It was delicious. In addition to the mix, we put cabbage, bean spouts, ham, kimchi, onions, and cheese in it and topped that off with mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed, and fish flakes. I get it. Believe me, I know that sounds weird, but it was fabulous! Her dad had sent her some hot fudge in a package, so we had ice cream and hot fudge for dessert. We also watched Puss and Boots. If you haven’t seen that movie, you should. It’s adorable! Since we’ve been watching the zombie show Walking Dead, we decided to watch Zombieland as well. We’ve all seen it before, but it was interesting to watch and compare the humor of Zombieland to the more serious tone of Walking Dead. Justine was tired, so she went to bed, but Ian and I watched one more movie, Tristan and Isolde before going to bed. Triple feature….it was a good night!
We woke up around 9AM and ate breakfast. Justine made a toasted peanut butter and jelly bread for us. I’m not sure what it is about peanut butter, but it’s like now that we don’t have it, it’s a delicacy. Before Saturday, I haven’t had a peanut butter and jelly since…….
We had big plans for Saturday. There’s a cave on the other side of Hitoyoshi. I don’t remember the name of it, but it had a big picture of a bat beside it, so we nicknamed it the “bat cave.” We met up with David and his girlfriend, Ikumi. Once we figured out where the actual entrance was, we paid for our tickets, and they gave us rubber boots and those miner’s helmets with the lights on them to wear. That alone made it worth it! Instead of having normal light bulbs lining the tunnel into the cave, it was lined with blinking and flashing colored Christmas lights. Ha! Ha! The cave was really pretty inside. It was no Mammoth Cave, mind you, but the stalactites and stalagmites were really pretty, and they even had some of then lit up. The normal course was so-so. It was basically a concrete pathway that wound around a very small section of the cave. We were glad that we bought admission to the “adventure” course part of the maze. That allowed us to go to another section, but we had to have a guide with us. We had to climb down steep ladders/stairs, and in some points we were ducking or squeezing through narrow rock walls. At the very bottom our guide took us to a waterfall that fed into a river. It was beautiful! We walked along the river until we got to the end of the course and an amazing stalagmite/stalactite formation.
Once we left the cave, we went to an onsen just down the road. I wasn’t very impressed with this onsen because it was a little more expensive than other ones I’ve been to, and it only had two pools. In both the water temperature was scaling hot! Justine, Ikumi, and I didn’t stay in the onsen for nearly as long as we would have. It’s not as much fun when your legs are boiling off. While we were waiting for the guys to finish up, I french braided my hair. Justine asked if I could do other people’s hair or just my own. I say I could braid other’s as well, so I did hers and then Ikumi’s. It was such a magical moment. I miss playing with hair! After that, we drove back into Hitoyoshi, met up with Melissa B, and grabbed dinner.
To end our night, we sang karaoke. Ian and I are living in the land of karaoke, yet we haven’t done it once since being here! We keep saying that we will, but one thing leads to another, and we never really do it. I’ve never done karaoke before, so I was a little intimidated at the thought of singing in front of my friends, but we had the best time! There are two types of karaoke places—one that is more of a bar setting, and you sing in front of EVERYONE present, and one in which you rent a little karaoke room and sing to just the people in your room. That’s what we did. There were Disney, Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Britney Spears, and many, many other songs sung that night. The good thing about karaoke is that you don’t have to be good to do it! All you have to have is the will to grab the mic and sing along to your favorite famous (or infamous) song. Shoot, it’s even fun to make fun of yourself!
That’s all for now. I still have much to write, but it’ll be on another blog.