Today was Entrance ceremony for the new first-years. I would write it up a nice little play-by-play of the event, but truth be told, it was exactly the same as the last 4 or 5 ceremonies I have already blogged. Lots of speeches from the same people. Many a name called, many a bow exchanged, and so on for about an hour and a half. The interesting thing is that I got to check out the freshman class for the first time. These will be MY students. They looked so grave as the marched into the gymnasium/auditorium today. Grave as hell, poor things.
One poor, unfortunate class consists entirely of boys. 40 of em. Ah, they must've been seething as they discovered their homeroom assignment today, and looked around at the other classes which are evenly divided between testosterone and estrogen. I'd've been pissed (like that double contraction?). the best part is that this all-boys class seems to have all of the bigger guys in it who look like they practice judo. There is also one boy who, i'd estimate, is about 6'2". No joke. All that nonsense about Japanese being small is hogwash. These kids come in LARGE, even at 15.
The second-year homerooms were also shuffled and wound up with one all-boys class too. I dont understand why they are doing this, as it seems like a recipe for disaster, but hey, it's not mine to judge. Well it is, but I will do so quietly and on the internet. Vice Principal tried to explain this restructuring to me, but I didn't really get it, other than that it has something to do with the gender-divided gym classes and or the electives (Art, Music, Calligraphy). I will report back if i figure this out.
One interesting thing about today's ceremony that differed was that the parents and guests were asked to put away their own folding chairs, then the new students were instructed to put them on dollys and cart them into storage by themselves. this struck me as rude, but I guess it is intended to set a serious/strict attitude about our school. I was chatting with one of the new English teachers as the chairs were being sorted and she asked me how years I have been living in Japan. Later, in the break room as we fixed our respective coffee and tea, she asked me if I had studied Japanese in college. Apparently the basic Japanese I have accrued so far was enough to make her assume that I had been here several years already. She was surprised that I was only 8 months in. That made me all happy and proud inside. One advantage of living where out here in the rice-paddy wilderness is I do get a lot of practice. But unlike many assume, this is not sufficient to absorb Japanese skill. Many inaka ALTs spend years in the countryside and still can't order food. I think the advantage lies in the fact that... what litle studying i DO accomplish pays off immediately and is quickly cemented by high volume practice. After learning a new grammar point I frequently hear things my Japanese friends have said to me over and over again replaying in my head, with a new cloud of understanding. Suddenly there is a feeling of having reached a tiny, incrementally wider threshold of ability. And that is a nice feeling.
One more thing I want you to know about: Daikon Legs. Daikon legs are basically the Japanese equivalant of American "cankles," except that the meat aggregates not around the ankles, but the at calves, and the phenomenon seems to be naturally/genetic opposed to McDonalds-induced.
To clarify, these are daikon:
...a kind of white, arm-sized, Japanese radish
...are Daikon Legs. Get it? (creepy escalator photo courtesy of google images). Perhaps surprisingly, Japan is full of these legs, proudly bulging within thin layers of nylon. Not to say that these legs belong to chunky ladies. No, no, quite contrary, they are typically found at the bases otherwise petit women. What do you make of it, dear reader?