In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone to a couple of elementary schools to assist in teaching classes. Last week I went to a rural mining town carved into the side of a mountain. There was a fresh dusting of snow, and from our elevated perch, we could look down upon the noisy mining operations below on the opposite side of the river as we were having snowball fights with these four, five and six year old kids in the schoolyard. It’s limestone: they carve it from the hills, but they don’t seem to do do in an environmentally destructive way. The “scarring” on the mountainsides seems minimal. The sun was glistening on the snow: It was a sublime morning. When you visit a school other than the one’s you teach at, you are greeted at the door and then go to the Kochi’s (principal’s) office and relax while they serve a very good cup of coffee: you treated as an honored guest and there is the prerequisite chat before meeting the students. You teach the class , come back down to the office and are thanked at length for your efforts. I had a great time and the kids were adorably cute.
Nescafe is an acceptable morning drink in lieu of anything better, but I’d hardly call it a great cup of coffee. It’s what I’ve been drinking at home since arriving in Japan last August. Good coffee is readily available in Japanese cafes but it isn’t cheap. A small china-sized cup might cost about $3.50 cdn. There are no mugs and there are no refills. The accompanying thimble-sized pitcher of cream seems impossibly small but, the cream is so rich, it is more than adequate to “whiten” the java. On impulse one evening last week, I ordered a “bodum” coffee-maker from Amazon Japan. It arrived at about 7:00pm (free of shipping charges) less than 48 hours later. I’m enjoying a “real” cup of coffee as I write this, hoping Andrew remembers the pound of Starbucks he promised to bring back, all the way from Port Dalhousie, Ontario.
I’m quite taken with the “hoodie” I recently picked up at the local mall. In various fonts and font sizes, including roman, gothic and script, it reads:
“If one itself can’t be controlled, it lives, and improper in the city. RampanT heart. SHARPEN A TUSK EVEN WHAT TIME”
Well; far be it from me to “gild the lily” but I think it’s fair to say that not even the most jaded and cynical heart could fail to be moved by such an assertion. Until next time, “dear friends”, I’ll leave those inspiring words with you.
PS: Still collecting my thoughts & notes on my trip to Okayama. Will post again within a day or two.
PPS: I mentioned the enkai (staff party and free pass to drink and behave like an idiot), in my last post. How do I wake up knowing I’ve had too much to drink the night before? I dimly recall croaking out a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at a karaoke bar. In my defense though, I can only say, “they MADE me do it!”