So last week I introduced my seven adorable schools to you. As I've made the rounds this week I've been taking pictures of the places. Have some visual!
Nita Middle School 仁多中学校
I wish you could see for yourselves the grandeur of this place. A road from the main thoroughway breaks off into two sweeping roads that go up a hill and encircle this huge bushy area. A gate and walkway seperate the main building from the outside world. I go here three times a week. My two Japanese Teachers of English, henceforth known as JTE's are Mr. Itohara and Mr. Fujimoto. They both speak fairly good English. I play volleyball after school with the girls on Monday and Wednesday and I plan to join Kendo on Friday (Although this Friday I was picking grapes with the Superintendent- eep!). Like most middleschoolers, the kids are pretty taciturn. Something happens to kids after middle school, and I think we can blame puberty. However, outside of class the girls especially like to come talk to me and ask every question they can think of -- in Japanese. Sigh. Yesterday I was so tired after lunch that I fell asleep for fifteen minutes with my head on my arms on my desk. When I woke up there was a note from the principal (Fukuda's husband- a great guy) that says "Please rest for 45 minutes each day firmly". I guess they were concerned I wasn't taking my lunch break properly. At least I didn't drool on the papers.
Kamedake Elementary School
This is one of my schools that is the farthest away. It certainly is the least pretty building. There is a lot of construction going on at the grounds. Most of the elementary schools don't really have JTE's, like I said before, they are homeroom teachers that also teach English. The staff at this school is almost all women which is fun for me but I'm sure terrible for the lone male (heh heh heh). When I first came to visit the principal, a cute tiny lady, said "If you have the chance, please take it!" and I was extremely confused until I remembered that the word for chance, kikai, also means opportunities. She was trying to say "Please take advantage of your opportunities". Isn't language fun?
Takao Elementary School 高尾小学校
This is another school that is quite far, and it's also one of two elementaries that only have sixteen students. I like it a lot though- feels like a family. As I was driving up the dangerous, narrow mountain path to this school, the students spotted me and started shouting Natalie Sensei! It's Natalie Sensei! Then literally the whole school walked me inside. I talked for a while with the Principal, who apparently had lived in Mexico city for three years (although he still doesn't speak a lick of Spanish as far as I can tell). My JTE here actually also majored in art. Kanetsuki (Bell Ringer) Sensei is a funny guy. He said he can never go home because his wife is terrible- she has two horns, he says. The kids here drew me a gian poster that is now hanging on my wall. Adorable.
AiElementary School 阿井小学校
Ai is my closest elementary school- it's literally a 10 minute bike ride away. The staff here include the infamous "cherry blossom girls" and two English supervisors who are very kind. The students at this school are the best. When I was doing my self-introduction they ooohed and aaaahed and gasped and laughed at all the right moments. They hold my hand in the hallway and ask me questions after class. The Bon-Odori was held at the grounds in this school.
Minari Elementary School 三成小学校
Minari is the closest district to Shimoai, it's only about ten minutes away by car. I got to play with the students at this school during recess and we played an epic game of 鬼ごっこonigokko where oni means demon and gokko means a game of make believe). Most of the game was spent hiding in the jungle gym where the kids asked "who is the demon? who is the demon?" They were a bit quiet at first but I think from now on they will open up a bit more that I have chased them screaming around a playground.
Fuse Elementary School 布勢小学校
Fuse elementary definitely has the most reserved children and staff. It is kind of a hard school to go to. I'm trying to reserve judgement until I visit again though.
Takata Elementary School 高田小学校
Takata is one of the farthest and smallest schools, also boasting only sixteen students. I like it except that one day Ian and I went for a conference and Ian totally stole the show. Ian is very tall, from Seattle (which has the Mariners and Ichiro- Japan's Hero), and knows a lot about movies- three things that really impress people around here. So he totally stole the show. Now they have a special place reserved for his shoes in the shoe cupboard even though IT'S MY SCHOOL! Curse you, Ian ;) Just kidding. I played dodgeball with the kids and it was fun- even though the seven year old boys wiped the floor with me. This week they were on a feild trip so English was canceled and I didn't get a picture. But it is probably also the prettiest school.
On a side note, I went to the post office on Thursday to buy some envelopes to mail a letter.letter. In the midst of the hubbub I forgot to take with me the two envelopes I didn't use. Today I arrived home to find out that the post office had mailed me home the forgotten envelopes. The value of these envelopes totalled about forty cents, and they spent ninety cents to ship them to me. Maybe I'm just pessimistic but I'm pretty sure in America the postal workers would either 1. throw away the unused envelopes or 2. put them back on the shelves with a slightly marked down price. Japan's communal society means that everyone is obliged to take care of each other, even to this kind of degree some would consider silly.
I thought it was ridiculous and awesome at the same time.