Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Rainy Season (II)

It has been a long time since I wrote the last blog. I have been weak and haven't felt like writing. Why? It is because of the rainy season.

The rainy season in Japan is unpleasant not only because it rains a lot, but because it is humid. The other day I saw the hygrometer in the teachers' room. It was 90 per cent. We sweat a lot every day. And the sweat is different than the pleasant perspiration from the hot and dry weather in summer. The humidity is so nasty that it deprives you of all the energy to do anything. My students can hardly endure a 50-minute class. The teachers' room has air-conditioners, but it is a rule that we cannot use them until mid-July. Our local government isn't very generous.

When I stayed at a hotel in Alberquerque, New Mexico, several years ago, one of the clerks said, "Are you from Japan? I've been there once." The other clerk asked her what Japan was like. She just said, "It was like the Philippines. The weather." I asked her when she had been in Japan, and she answered, "In June."

So don't visit my country in the rainy season. You would come to dislike Japan.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Rainy Season (I)

15 years ago, my wife and I had our wedding in June. Why in June? One reason is that we followed the Western superstition of "June Bride." But there was a bigger reason.

June is the month when we have a lot of rain. It is called "tsuyu" in japanese, meaning "rainy season." People do not want their wedding on a rainy day, so most people avoid June as a wedding month. In Japan, you usually have weddings at hotels or special halls for weddings. Those facilities give you a discount in June. We took advantage of it.

Fortunately enough, it did not rain on the day of our wedding.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

"Thank you" in Japanese (II)

I've found another explanation about this.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

School Excursion (III)

After visiting Hiroshima Peace Park, we went downtown to have lunch. Most students ate what is the most famous food in Hiroshima: okonomiyaki. Hiroshima is just as famous for okonomiyaki as Osaka. Hiroshima and Osaka have different ways of cooking it, and I like both. The biggest difference is that okonomiyaki in Hiroshima has some noodle in it.

In the afternoon, we traveled to Kobe. After the check-in at our hotel, we went to the harbor to get on a ship. All the 320 and 15 teachers were on the ship to have dinner. On getting on the ship, students began shouting, "It's swaying! I'm getting sick." Girls were almost crying, "I can't eat anything here!" I tried to calm them, but it didn't work. But at the next moment, the things completely changed. When I announced them that the food was served in a buffet style and I would allow girls to get the food first, all the girls in the room rushed to the food like so many ants around a sugar cube! I said to myself, "Hey, girls, didn't you all say you couldn't eat a thing?" They were spending so much time picking their food that boys were getting irritated.

Before getting on the ship, students complained to me, "Who planned this? Why dinner on the ship?" But they all enjoyed the meal (though I found it just so-so) and the sunset from the deck.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

School Excursion (II)

On the first day, we visited "Miyajima" in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is one of the top 3 scenic places in Japan, the other two being "Matsushima" in Miyagi and "Amanohashidate" in Kyoto. In "Miyajima" is a famous shrine called "Itsukushima-jinja." The shrine is built on the seashore, and when the tide is high, it looks as if it were floating on the ocean. And its "torii," the red shrine gate, is in the ocean. I have been there 4 times and I like this place very much. But my students complained that they are a bit too young to enjoy its value.

At the hotel on the first night, our students had an opportunity to listen to a 76-year-old man who had survived the A-bombing on Hiroshima. He told us that he had been 1.5 kilometers away from the hypocenter on August 6, 1945. His school building was collapsed and he was under it. He went back to the center of Hiroshima to find his hometown had become a hell. All he could see was dead bodies awfully burned. He lost all his family and relatives.

My students were earnestly listening to him. It was a precious opportunity for them to learn about what happened under the mashroom cloud, especially from a person who had actually experienced it.

This increased their motivation for their visit to Hiroshima Peace museum the next day. Most students spend enough time looking at the exhibited items and explanations.

(A glass bottle transformed by the heat of the A-bomb. It was discovered one kilometer away from the hypocenter.)