Monday, October 03, 2005

Trees and Bad Shoes

Last week was one of those weeks that you just want to be over. Not because you are having a bad time of it (I had a good week at work, actually), but because you have some stonking activities planned for the weekend. But my plans bit the dust on Thursday night (we were supposed to go and play Frisbee on another part of the island, but we cancelled because of time contraints), and I spent the evening in a blue funk, because I'd been waiting ages for it to happen.

However, the weekend was still one to remember! It started late on Friday afternoon, by teaching my 2-nenseis (2nd graders). I always dread these classes, as they are the last classes of the week for both kids and teachers, but the students are always great, and I love teaching them. They set me up. Anyway, Friday there, I taught them the phrase 'Happy Friday'. And during cleaning time after class, two or three of them passed me in the hall and wished me a Happy Friday. All right!

After that, it was time to head over to Julie's place in Mikamo. The rough plan was chat, films, erm poker. D'oh! Nate is a total poker monkey, and so once again, I found myself staring two cards in the face. But THIS TIME I WON! I tripled my buy in (so more or less recouping my losses over the previous two weekends). Happy! But still aiming for no poker next weekend. We had a really great night, everyone was on good form, and it was a good substitute for Frisbee. Joe and Nate came back to mine to watch a film called 'Saw', which I think may have been scary if I had been by myself, and the mood of the group wasn't as happy. It was an ok film I guess, but I was sort of tipsy, and we were all wired so I didn't watch it like I should have. Then a pillow fight ensued, then a half-serious argument about the distribution of blankets and pillows and things, and then 3.30am we finally crashed.

On Saturday, we got on the road about midday. We picked Julie up, and headed for the nearby city of Kawanoe (paper milling capital of Japan, hence smelliest city in Japan) to do some shopping. Nate is still kitting his house out to make it feel like home, and on his list was a tree. He wanted a tree for his kitchen. So we got one. But we had to get it back to Higashiiya. Hilarity. We were in Nate's car. Nate's car is tiny. It was crammed with four people, and their stuff for nights away at people's houses. And now we wanted to fit a tree in aswell. A six foot tree. This will go down as one of my classic JET memories. Nate putting this tree in through the back window, me having to recline the seat all the way back, thus pegging Joe in place, then sitting with the tree trunk on top of me. The foliage of the tree was in Joe's face. So he was breathing leaves. It is one of the funniest situations I have ever found myself if. A giggling Nate ran round the car taking pictures, so when I get copies, I will post them.

It was a long drive back to Iya, what with a tree lying on top of me, but we got there, tree and all! Quick stop at Nate's to dump gear, and then we drove up the mountain to an old samurai house for the annual jazz concert. This is one of the coolest events ever: all these people sit round an old iryori (open fire used for cooking), and listen to these cool cats go mad on vibraphones, double bases and pianos. Jazz in the mountains. Sweet. The concert is made all the better for the great home-made Japanese food laid on (food with a distinctive Iya twist).

After the concert, we went back down to Nate's to par-tay. There was our Kawanoe crew, plus Jordan, Dave, and a few other JETs who had been rafting that day. It was a really great night: I was in an ass-slapping sort of mood, we played some mad games, Dave and Amber showed people how to swing dance, and there was swimming in the river outside Nate's house. Some people were more dressed than others. :) Again, it was 3.30am by the time we finally crashed out: drunk, tired, but happy.

I wish I could have slept in longer on Sunday, but I was due back in Miyoshi by 12.30 to dance. So I left my nice futon, said my goodbyes, and drove back towards civilisation with some of the other revellers. I hadn't danced for a while. Things have been busy. And Minoda-ren is having something of a membershiop crisis. However, tired as I was, I always like to dance.

Yesterday, though, was the worst I have dance for a very long time. Maybe cause I was so beat, but I think it had more to do with the poor shape my shoes were in. I always carry two pairs of geta with me (wooden thongs on wedges that you dance in) in case one pair breaks. My first performance was horrible because the rope of the thong was about to snap, and I could feel it getting weaker and weaker with each step. it made me lose all concentration, and I guffed up dances I've been doing with my eyes closed for two years. And Dave was watching! So sad! I always like to dance well if Dave is seeing me: he's my Awa Odori mentor, and I always want to impress him, but alas, not yesterday. Quick shoe change, no worries. But the second and third performances were no better! The wedges kept dropping out the bottom of my shoes, making me stumble and forget my timing! Then a blister formed and popped right between my big and second toe, where all my weight rests when I'm dancing. As you can imagine, that's excurciating!

So all in all, a pretty grim day onstage, but good to see the ren and hang out. There are only a couple of shows left before our winter break, sadly. It's been a quick season! I hope that next season (from about March time) will see a newly revived Minoda-ren dance up a storm. I'm sure it will.

So back at school today, Monday is when I have no classes. That can be a blessing and a curse. A pretty average looking week lies ahead, and then next weekend is another long one, with the 10th being Japanese Health and Sports day (which is so important, it warrants a National Holiday!). I'm going to do lots of studying this week, maybe see Hanna and Kunihiro for dinner, and try to catch up on some sleep. No plans for the long weekend as yet, but I hope it'll be good. Sure it will. :) The pictures are of Joe on Saturday (VERY late on!), and Joe, Nate and new JET Sara looking philisophical on Friday night.


Josef said...

Nice pictures. That juice-drinking ninja guy is pretty hot.

Ellie said...

I don't think that's juice, though.... 10 minutes later, that ninja guy was butt naked (save for the head gear) and swimming in the river... :)