On Monday after classes, I hosted an Episode of “English Paradise” a local cable TV show. The film crew showed up at the school at 4:00pm. I’d studied the script over the weekend and by Sunday evening I was swanning around my apartment like Laurence Olivier honing every inflection and nuance. I had it down pat: I nailed it. I owned it!
I went to bed not worrying too much about having taken my last painkiller the night before. I didn’t sleep a “wink”. Every time I moved my knee was on fire. By the time the camera crew showed up I’d been awake for nearly 32 hours. I was near delirious. Using his fingers the cameraman counted down three, two, one and I froze like a deer in the headlights. Nothing: Not a word. I honestly believed at that moment that, humiliated I’d be on a plane home within a few days.
Fortunately the crew was great. They joked & laughed and told me not to worry. We went into the school and, with a “second wind”, the interviews with the teachers and students in the school brass band all went well. We filmed the second half of the show in the studio later the same evening and it also seemed to go well. I hope so, it’ll probably be aired in a couple of weeks. Tough day!
I recently visited Kokura with some of my fellow teachers at Daiichu Junior High. The best day that Kokura has ever had, or ever likely will for that matter, was on August 9th, 1945. It was cloudy that day and the American bomber that had been tasked with annihilating much of the city could not pinpoint its’ primary target. They went on to devastate Nagasaki instead. By coincidence, we also visited Hiroshima on the same day.
Kokura is an attractive city on the southern island of Kyushu that is linked by a bridge that traverses the Straits of Shimonoseki and connects with the main island of Honshu. It has a beautiful tourist-oriented waterfront and we spent the afternoon shopping and sightseeing, visiting a beautiful old Shinto temple and a massive indoor fish market that even sold the potentially fatal and expensive fugu fish. We went to a great restaurant afterwards that served a delicious traditional Japanese soup/stew called nabe. This particular variation of nabe is a local specialty and is made using offal. Awful though that may sound, it was delicious. Although I am reluctant to admit to it, I also tried whale sashimi. Even though I abhor whale hunting, it was presented to me as a special dish and I felt it would be ungracious to decline. I am after all, a guest in this country and rationalized the decision knowing that Canada continues to allow the killing of grizzly bears and wolves. I’m still a little conflicted about it though.
On our trip back to Niimi we spent a great afternoon on Miyajimi Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s considered a sacred island and has the magnificent Itsukushima “floating (seemingly at high tide) gate”. It also has many old shrines and temples. It is an enchantingly beautiful forested island and I would not have missed it for anything! Google it!