Meeting the Munchkins....
I woke up early enough to catch the buffet breakfast (yesterday I didn`t and had to subsist on a great meal of Mentos and Diet Coke- yes, I did hunt down the Diet Coke here. It wasn`t easy, either b/c in the resturants it cost six dollars for a glass!). The breakfast was Japanese style which meant lots of fish. I don`t know about you, but that`s not what I want to wake up to in the morning. What is it with all this fish here???? Luckily, they had white rice so I had a HUGE bowl of it. I could like this country and their love of rice!
Today I finally stepped foot into a Japanese school (well, one that was not a college). The verdict is... it really is not any different from a school in the United States!
We started the day bright and early at the elementary school so we could see the children arrive. They do not take buses, everyone walks. We watched everyone arrive at the school and you could point out all the trouble makers! They were being wild and running around outside the school. The interesting thing was, though, that no teachers were in sight! No one was watching these hoodlums! The kids all wear different color hats to distinguish what grades they were in (for example...red hats for first grade, yellow hats for second grade...).
We met with the principal and assistant principal and took a tour of the school. The children were very excited to see us and practiced their English on me. They kept asking me, "What is your favorite color?" I have a feeling that is what they learned for us since I told about fifty of them how much I love blue! We got to go into the classrooms and observe the students and hang out with them. They are very very well behaved and I was surprised again to see that they teacher was often missing from the classroom? Hmm...where do they go? Maybe to the secret teacher`s lounge like the one I have in the hollow floor next to my desk! Right, tenth graders???!!!
I got to eat with a first grade class from lunch and that was an adventure. First of all, they prepare the lunch! They all have specific tasks such as setting the desks, serving the food (they put on white aprons, hats and masks) and passing out the trays. It is crazy! They all know exactly what they do and get to work. I think the craziest part is what they eat, though.
We dined on a delicious meal of miso soup, rice and silver fish! THE WHOLE FISH!!!!! Each child got two long silver fish. Now they didn`t just eat the middle of it, no, they the whole dang thing! Bones, tales, insides, head and all! I just sat in awe (I am trying to be polite here!). The kids were chowing down like there was no tomorrow. The one girl next to me started pulling her`s apart and smacking her lips. Then another boy came over to talk and sprayed it on me. NASTY! The worse was the poor girl who did not eat her fish spine, and her teacher made her eat it! I felt bad, but I did not touch any of them. I would have covered them if I could have! Blah!
The rest of the day was spent exploring the school and getting to know the students. We talked with the teachers at the end of the day and again, I found the school was not much different from my own school. Who knew!?!
We returned around four so I put on my running shoes, grabbed my i-pod and went running. It was amazing! The town is nothing but mountains and green land. I ran past shrines, castles and structures that were thousands of years old. I did not want to stop because it was all so incredible. I found a shrine in the woods with buddhas all around it and stopped to rest and just reflect for a bit. It really is an incredible feeling and thought to know that I am a part of so much, and my world in Cleveland is just a little tiny speck of what is out there. I really am loving this trip and how it is opening my eyes to the vastness of the world.