Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?

The weather was crazy today. When I first woke up, the light coming in through my curtains was kind of grey, but just before I left, I noticed that it’d become a really pleasant-looking golden color. When I went out there were a lot of puffy clouds, but there was a lot of beautiful blue sky as well (and some really strong wind). Cue three hours later, when one of the kouminkan staffers looks up and suddenly lets out an exclamation; we turn around (my back’s to the window), and it had started snowing like crazy! It cleared up, and the afternoon was a mix of clouds and blue sky again, but with some really ominous grey clouds piling over the mountains. I decided to introduce, “How’s the weather?” to my kids, and of the five choices (sunny, cloudy, rainy, windy, snowing), they answered all five–and then realized that it actually hadn’t been raining. Geez.

I think I’ve finally figured out how to teach phonics and make it fun and interesting! It’s all about the games…I’ll hopefully come back to this in a future post, since it’s long enough to warrant its own post. It’s just a shame I didn’t discover this earlier, so that the 6th-graders in my classes had a stronger foundation in it to prep them for April.

And…Louise and I have been talking, and we discovered a really good roundtrip airfare deal to Sydney, Australia, leaving on April 27th (¥62,000/$525 out of Osaka, ¥67,000/$570 out of Tokyo). This is the Thursday before Golden Week. Our flights would both arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, and we’d catch the same connecting flight from there to Sydney, where we’d spend a little over a week.

I think we’re going to do it. We both want to…we’re just waiting to see if anyone else we know is interested in joining us, but we can’t wait for too long, or we’ll risk missing out on the deal. I almost feel like this is an impulsive decision, except that Golden Week is a huge vacationing time in Japan and this is the time to start making reservations, and we’ve been talking idly about doing something for a while. I also got an e-mail via the TravelingJETs mailing list about a Gunma-ken JET Habitat For Humanity house-building project in Mongolia during that time, but we don’t have enough vacation time; otherwise, we would have both jumped on it. How many opportunities does anyone have to go somewhere like Mongolia?

Oh, completely switching tracks, I forgot to mention that I got yet another gaikokujin comment on Friday. I went to find the restroom at my Friday afternoon elementary school, and as I was walking in and slipping on a pair of bathroom slippers, a girl came out of one of the stalls, saw me, and froze stock-still, staring at me for a second, until I smiled and moved out of the way and excused myself for being in her way. She excused herself as well and passed me, still staring at me the whole time, and washed her hands as I finished sliding into the slippers and stepped forward. I turned and saw her backing away, still staring at me with wide eyes and drawing in a big breath, and as soon as she made it out into the hallway, she dashed away, blurting, “Gaikokujin! Gaikokujin!” in a breathless voice at (I’d presume) friends who were further down the hall.

And another unrelated story…in Monday’s junior high 1st-year classes, my JTE asked me to give a speech on “strange things” in Japan, as compared to the US and maybe India. One of the things I came up with was the almost complete lack of vegetarian food in such a Buddhist-heavy country, and though I’d just quickly jotted it down, when I got up to talk about it before both classes of first-years, I started really getting into it…if not for the fact that I was limited to using really basic English, I could have gone on for a while, I’m sure. It’s just so contradictory–they’re very Buddhist, but they eat so many different kinds of meat and fish…doesn’t that completely contradict a major aspect of their faith? Buddhism and Hinduism share, among other things, the “respect for all life” doctrine, and Buddhist priests ascribe to an almost vegan diet, even in Japan–how is it that eating meat/fish has somehow evolved to become such a widely-held exception to that?

Okay, I’m going to go make dinner and watch Tonari No Totoro to prepare myself for the Ghibli Museum next week. Rock on!

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