Random notes


I have today (Monday), off work in lieu of having worked on Saturday; parents day. It was an interesting day. I awoke at 6:30am, the usual time and it was cold. Compared with Sidney it’s not particularly cold but, in Japan there is no real central heating or insulation so there is a pervasive and pernicious dampness that always reminds you that it is winter. Even in the schools, although the classes are heated, the hallways are not and you are well-advised to wear a sweater. Many students, and adults for that matter, wear surgical masks at this time of year to curtail the transmission of flu and colds. It’s interesting to consider that something North Americans would not even consider for a moment, probably saves the Japanese health care system the equivalent of millions of dollars a year. But that’s Japan: It’s about the common good.  But I digress: Saturday!

It was cold. By noon though, the temperature had risen to 18 degrees. It was like summer. There was only one English class scheduled and I attended with Andrew (who is in his fourth year as an ALT)  and of course, the sensei.  Sensei is a great teacher, knowledgeable and with a great sense of humor that engages her students. She drew upon Andrew to assist the lesson and I pretty much stood there for 50 minutes with a rictus-like grin on my face doing nothing. I cannot fault sensei though, she and Andrew  have worked together for at least a year and clearly have a very comfortable working relationship. With parents lining the back of the room, she had to bring her “best game” to the classroom and Andrew “works the room” like Sinatra in Las Vegas. The students adore him.

On Andrew’s  recommendation we went to a curry restaurant for lunch. The food was great. Prior to moving to  Japan I’d eaten in dozens of Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto,  but have never seen  curry on any menu. In  Japanese supermarkets, curry dishes generally  assume more space than the cheese, bread and breakfast cereals sections combined.

I arrived in Niimi on August 20th and to date, have not really left the town. Naomi has actually sent me an email that included various train schedules and destinations. I could defend my un-peripatetic lifestyle by saying that I had to wait for a wi-fi connection,  acclimate to schools, and learn how to pay bills. Truth is though, I’ve already done those things and I really should be doing some travelling. I’ ll be going to Kyoto in December. Kyoto, the original capital of Japan, is noted for having more than 1,700 Buddhist temples, 300 Shinto shrines, gardens, palaces, museums and galleries. I’m looking forward to visiting.

Rather than stay at a hotel,  I’m hoping to book a room at a Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional  Japanese Inn. Royokans , at their best , preserve the history of traditional Japanese Inns. Owners take pride in preserving a building that reflects a traditional atmospheric history.  Preservation of a true Ryokan is traditionally considered to be more important than the comfort of the guests.


Ta for now.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *