Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maybe it is because his name sounds Japanese?

I know that Japanese people love Obama--a lot. I often use this knowledge to my advantage when lesson planning.

Is Obama scary or handsome?

Think of a great person. For example, Obama.

Me: “You can do it!”
Students: “eeeh?.”
Me: “Yes we can!”
Students: “YES WE CAN!”

Today over lunch with first graders, a little boy asked me if I was a foreigner. I told him that I was. He then asked where I was from. I told him that I was from America. He seemed confused, as if he had never heard of the country. I then said, “Obama.” Immediately his face lit up to show his recognition. I asked the boy who Obama was. He answered "daitoriyo" (president). On a whim, I asked a follow up question. "Who is the Prime Minister of Japan?" Neither he nor the crowd of on-lookers knew the answer.

I suppose with his approval rate lingering around 13%, Taro Aso does not really enter the radar of a seven-year-old.

Obama, however, has somehow achieved Pokemon status.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tabesugimashita: I Ate too Much

This is my friend Naohiro and his lovely fiancee. Following four years of dating, they are getting married this April and then heading off to Italy for their honeymoon. I am sure they had a lovely Valentine's day filled with romance and admiration for each other.

All that is left of my original plan for the weekend is the whited out marking in my agenda book.
In this country where Western men are generally on the prowl for Japanese women, and Japanese men are generally too shy to merely make small talk with exotic women such as myself, us American ladies find ourselves leading very single, celibate lives. On Friday night, my friend had a few girls over for a clothing swap and sleepover. Two girls who came have lived in Japan for four and five years respectively, and both of them have remained completely unattached throughout the duration of their stay. We indulged in cupcakes, wine, and their fantasies of entering the dating pool come July when they finally leave Japan.

Last night on Valentine's day, my friend Marty and I went to her teacher's house where we played with her three girls, who are all my students, and ate delicious food over good conversation. Following a game of Uno, dinner, singing, dancing and playing the piano, we finally sat down to dig into the delicious dessert that Marty brought over.
In Japan on Valentine's day girls are supposed to give chocolate to boys, not the other way around. Marty and I, over chocolate cake, asked the three little girls if they bought any chocolate for boys. They all answered that they had, for their father--their first love.
An hour or so later Marty's teacher drove us home and dropped me off in front of the video store near my apartment. It was around 9:00, so the night was still young and I considered going inside to rent a movie. I asked Marty if she thought my students would think I was pathetic if they ran into me at the video store at 9 pm on Valentine's day. She reminded me that Valentine's day does not hold the same significance in this country, and that renting a movie on a Saturday night is a perfectly acceptable activity. So, I concluded the holiday with a romantic comedy followed by a long talk with Mallory, my friend teaching in Costa Rica.

Today I have a blind date with a Japanese woman who apparently wants to be my friend. We are going to my favorite cafe where we will sip on coffee and eat cake in an effort to get to know each other.

Although I will most likely remain single throughout my stay in Japan, I can always count on blossoming friendships, DVD rentals, and delicious cake. Seriously, who needs to be doted on by a man when I have hundreds of blushing students who want to hold my hand?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Adorenorin: Endorphins

They say that February is the coldest month in Kagawa. This past week has been the most gorgeous weather since November.

They say that you do not know what you have until it is gone. I think you cannot understand the importance of what you have until you realize you will not have it forever.

Today I took advantage of the clear sky and crisp air. With my newfound appreciation for Japan, stemming from my decision to leave this country within a matter of months, I did something I have not done since those temperate days of November. I went for a run.

The sounds coming from my headphones, paired with friendly nods from farmers encouraging my exploration, allowed me to step out of my winter slump a month earlier than expected.

Japan, maybe I had to make the decision to leave you to begin to appreciate you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I must decide by Friday.

I could have been doing this:

But instead I was doing this:

Should I stay another year?